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Custom-Designed Major FAQs

Do I have to be a member of the Honors Program to join the Custom-Designed Major?

No, you do not. While some Custom-Designed students are members of the Honors Program, others are not. Keep in mind that there are other fantastic opportunities non-Honors students can participate in within the Honors College as well, through various departments within the College: the Undergraduate Research and Enrichment Programs, Center for Civil Discourse, and Marketing & Media.

Can I join the Custom-Designed Major as an incoming Drexel student?

Yes, first-year students can enroll in the Custom-Designed Major. You will need to complete the Common App as well as submit additional application materials. You will find more information on our Apply page. If you're interested in learning more about enrolling into the Custom-Designed Major as a first year student, please reach out to Associate Director Dr. Katie Barak or Senior Academic Advisor Joe Santangelo.

What kind of opportunities exist for undergraduate research?

All CSDN seniors complete the capstone sequence (CSDN 304, CSDN 305, and CSDN 306), and work closely with a faculty mentor on a 3-term research project. Students present their research in a capstone presentation prior to graduation. Many students have gone on to publish their work after graduation.

Some CSDN students work closely with faculty to develop upper-division independent study courses. These nuanced courses allow students to develop deeper expertise and additional skills with an expert in their field.

Incoming first-year CSDN students are automatically invited to join the STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) Scholars Program. The STAR Scholars Program is an opportunity for highly motivated first-year students to engage in an early faculty-mentored undergraduate research, scholarship, or creative experience during the summer after their first year at Drexel. STAR Scholars is a highly competitive program that seeks to identify and encourage students to take a hands-on approach to their education through undergraduate research.

Is co-op harder for a Custom-Designed Major?

No, Custom-Designed have secured a variety of co-op positions. Many feel that their interdisciplinary background set them apart in the interview process and that the CSDN curriculum helped prepare them to discuss their individualized academic path with a variety of audiences. Whether it's an elevator pitch or a presentation about their studies, students pursuing CSDN have not felt hindered by their departure from a traditional academic path. Please see CSDN and Co-op for more information.

You mention a "faculty member" for the 3-term research project. Are CSDN students assigned mentors, or do students find mentors on their own?

As students delve into higher-level coursework within their chosen academic disciplines, it is inevitable that they begin developing relationships with faculty from each area. This is typically a very natural process, where students will have a feeling about whom they wish to work during their research project. Should students need guidance on finding a mentor, the CSDN Advisors are here to provide assistance as well.

Do Custom-Designed students still need to complete pre-requisite courses?

Yes, Custom-Designed students must complete all listed pre-requisite courses. Pre-requisite courses are determined by departments with the understanding that these courses instruct on skills and information required to be successful in the subsequent courses. We defer to their expertise.

Do Custom-Designed Majors complete their work in 4-years with 1 co-op or 5-years with 3 co-ops? If I switch into the major, will my co-op cycle change?

Both! Some Custom-Designed Majors prefer the 4-year plan while other students find the 5-year plan better suited for their individualized plan-of-study. Please review the Drexel University Co-op Education webpage.

If switching into the CSDN major, your co-op cycle will not change. However, if a student is interested in facilitating a change due to personal reasons, that is certainly possible as well.

How do electives work in the Custom-Designed Major?

Upon moving into the Custom-Designed major, CSDN staff will audit the student's coursework and update their account, including DegreeWorks, so that the student is aware of how past and current coursework applies to the new academic plan. Any courses that do not satisfy an individual requirement (General Education requirement, CSDN upper-level core course, etc.) will filter under elective coursework for the student. There is no limit to how many elective credits a student can carry, and if a student is interested in taking courses for leisure/elective coursework, they are encouraged to consult their assigned Academic Advisor.

Can Custom-Designed majors minor in other disciplines?

Yes! It is very common and often encouraged for CSDN students to minor in a discipline. The University allows up to 9 credits of overlap between a student's major and minor. Because of this, we encourage any student interested in declaring a minor to first consult their assigned Academic Advisor to ensure enough courses are available for a minor to be completed. At that point, students will need to consult the department in which the minor is housed to formally declare the minor.

How do we know which courses count for each general education requirement?

Please see the breakdown of acceptable general education courses in the CSDN Curriculum page.

Is anyone available to help with the vision statement and plan of study?

Certainly! We are here to assist students from inquiry of the major through the application process. We strongly suggest prospective students set personal timelines for drafts of materials and to periodically check in with CSDN staff throughout the application process.

My plan includes more than 180 credits, what does that mean?

180 credits is the minimum number of credits a student pursuing the Custom-Designed Major is required to take. This number can be impacted by AP credits, transfer credits, etc. When a student exceeds 180 credits, that is perfectly fine and there is no reason to panic or raise alar. When a student switches majors late in their academic career, brings in a high volume of AP or transfer credit, or pursues a large amount of elective credit for leisure, it is common to exceed this number. If receiving federal financial aid, it is important to ensure that the majority of coursework taken is applicable towards the student's academic plan, as there are federal guidelines for funding as it relates to a student's past and anticipated coursework. When in doubt, consult the Office of Financial Aid, as every student's situation is different.

Can CSDN students study abroad?

Yes! Studying abroad does require intentional academic planning with an Academic Advisor, as well as Drexel's Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad. Many prospective CSDN students build study abroad into their plan-of-study when applying to the Custom-Designed Major. If you are a current student newly interested in studying abroad, inform your Academic Advisor as soon as possible so that you both can begin building out tasks, deadlines, and a timeline to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

What does the application timeline look like for someone interested in pursuing the Custom-Designed major?

The CSDN core curriculum required for all CSDN students takes a minimum of two full academic years to complete. Because of this, any prospective student must complete the application process and be switched into the major with a minimum of eight full terms left in their academic tenure with Drexel.

The application timeline takes on average 4-6 weeks from start to finish for most students. Many factors can expedite or lengthen this process: Complexity of the student's proposed courses, collecting letters of support from recommenders, and the extent of revision required on the student's application materials (I.e. the vision statement and plan of study). Upon initial submission of the vision statement and plan of study to the CSDN Staff, we will provide extensive feedback — which on average takes 2-3 drafts — before forwarding the completed application to faculty for final feedback and review.

Upon final feedback and should the student be accepted into the major, the student attends a mandatory academic advising appointment to discuss any pressing deadlines or news regarding CSDN. Moving forward, students meet at minimum once a term with a CSDN Advisor to ensure they are making appropriate academic progress towards degree completion.

What will my diploma say?

Diplomas for graduates in the Custom-Designed Major say Bachelor of Science.