Student-Proposed Interdepartmental Major

An interdepartmental major (IDM) is a single major designed using courses from two Trinity College departments or programs that each offer a major. This option give you significant flexibility in crafting your educational experience, allowing you to integrate the disciplines of two different fields. Please note, though, that this is not designed to allow students to complete half of two majors - an IDM should be a unified interdisciplinary program of study.

The Inner Workings of a Student-Proposed Interdepartmental Major

  • The major must consist of a minimum of 14 courses, split evenly between the two departments (e.g. seven course credits in each).
  • At least ten of the courses must be at the 200-level or above.
  • At least four of the seven courses required by each department must be taught within the department.
  • All courses must be among those normally accepted for a major in the two departments.
  • Only two courses taught outside Duke may count toward an IDM (either institutional transfers or from non-Duke study abroad programs). There are no restrictions regarding which departments these two courses can count towards.
  • Students and departments should keep in mind that the IDM requirements as stated above and in the Bulletin of Undergraduate Instruction are considered a minimum set of requirements.  At the discretion of the director of undergraduate studies, departments may set more stringent and/or more specific requirements.
  • An IDM must be planned early in your undergraduate career; an IDM will not be approved in your senior year.

How Advising Works for an IDM

  • You will have an advisor in each department.  However, one of the departments must be identified as your primary department.  Your advisor in this department will be responsible for advising in your major program and will make you eligible to enroll each semester. 
  • Both directors of undergraduate studies must agree to an initial list of courses that you will take in the two departments, and both advisors and both directors must jointly approve any subsequent changes to the course of study.
  • An IDM functions as a single major and as such, can be combined with a second major; whether such a decision is appropriate or feasible should be carefully evaluated.

Getting Started

If you would like to explore the idea of an IDM, talk with your advisor and/or a Director of Academic Engagement about the merits of an IDM compared to traditional major/minor combinations or Program II.  Then identify advisors in the two departments and work with them and the directors of undergraduate studies to generate a list of courses that will satisfy department requirements and meet the educational goals of your IDM. 

How to Declare a Student-Proposed Interdepartmental Major

To declare an IDM, you should complete the IDM application form and worksheet below and meet with the appropriate directors of undergraduate study for advice and their approval of your courses.  Both DUSs and advisors must sign the application form.  Note that a DUS may set more stringent and/or more specific requirements.  When the application form is complete and signed, you should submit the application form to Dean Karen Murphy in 011 Allen Building for final approval and processing.  

FORM:  IDM Application    

If you are a sophomore declaring your major for the first time, you will also need to complete the standard declaration steps outlined below:

  1. Begin on the Planning Tab, in DukeHub. This is where you’ll find your Advisement Report, Long Range Plan, What If report, and your Planner, to select future courses. The Planner and What If report are planning tools in which you identify the courses you expect to take during your remaining time at Duke.
  2. Complete the Long Range Plan. You’ll answer four questions about your future plans, reflect on your choice of major in a brief essay, and complete a brief survey about your pre-major advising experience.
  3. Run a What If report. Create a new report, run it for Trinity requirements only, and view it as a pdf. This will show you how your past and current courses are meeting requirements, and what general education requirements remain. You can also add additional majors, minor, or certificates if you like.
  4. Add courses to your Planner. Select the courses you plan to take to satisfy all remaining general education and major requirements and place them in your Planner. You will then assign these courses to the semesters you expect to take them, so you'll have 4-5 classes a semester for your remaining semesters. You’re probably not going to follow this plan exactly and that's okay. If you plan to study abroad in a Duke-in program, you can add the courses you expect to take. If you don’t know where you will be studying, or what will be offered, just enter courses for that semester as if you would be at Duke. Delete any courses you didn't assign to a particular semester.
  5. Run a new What If report. All requirements should show as satisfied, and you shouldn’t have any courses that are dated past your graduation semester. If you do, go back into your Planner and delete them. If some requirements aren't satisfied, go back into your Planner and find courses that will satisfy them. If you have trouble completing your What If report, the AAC peer advisors are happy to help.
  6. Schedule an appointment with your  college advisor to review your What If report and essay. Bring a printed copy of your essay and What If report. Your advisor will confirm that both are accurate and complete and sign your essay.
  7. Submit your application, worksheet and general studies portion of the What if Report to Dean Karen Murphy in 011 Allen Building  for final approval and processing.