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Pursue your unique combination of passions to design your own major as an Independent Scholar.

The Independent Scholars program provides motivated students with the flexibility to pursue academic pathways tailored to their interests. Each student in the Independent Scholars program identifies an area of inquiry, and creates a plan for course work that includes an independent research or creative project and experiential learning. The major is geared towards students whose interests cross-cut traditional disciplinary boundaries, and who are seeking control over their academic career.

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The mission of the Independent Scholars major is to provide students with a learning environment in which they develop and pursue self-designed curricular pathways and research goals, identifying unique domains of inquiry and interweaving multiple modes of thinking. Students are empowered to cultivate their own academic and professional interests in ways that foster the ability to comprehend and contribute uniquely and innovatively to a wide array of topics, questions and problems.

IS majors will develop topic-based interests and inquiry strategies to pursue those interests; enhance creativity, self-directedness and perseverance required for inquiry; learn research, technical and communication skills relevant to their inquiry; situate their inquiry in relation to contemporary notions of disciplinary thinking; enhance aptitude and confidence in working independently and collectively; and apply knowledge and skills in experiential-learning settings.

Independent Scholars
  • Degrees Offered: 
    • B.A. in Individualized Study
    • B.S. in Individualized Study
  • Concentrations: None
  • Minors: None

Declaring the Major

New Freshmen and Transfer Students
Do you feel like Independent Scholars may be for you? The next step is to contact the Independent Scholars faculty to discuss your academic goals. If a self-designed major is a good fit for you, you’ll receive permission to enroll in IND 200: Interdisciplinary Scholarship: Introduction to the Independent Scholars Major at JMU, the introductory course in which students complete a proposal that develops and justifies an individualized area of inquiry, designs the curriculum, and makes plans for experiential learning such as study abroad, internships, and other non-traditional work. The course is offered every semester.

Currently Enrolled Major Changers 
Currently enrolled majors who wish to declare Independent Scholars should follow the same guidelines for new students listed above. Where appropriate, coursework taken prior to declaring the major can be utilized in the self-designed curriculum. In addition, students are able to build their major around an existing minor at JMU.

Admission to the Major

Acceptance into Independent Scholars is based on successful completion of the introductory course (IND 200). Decisions about acceptance into IS will be made by the Independent Scholars faculty at the end of each IND 200 course. Students whose interests better align with existing JMU majors will be directed to those majors, and can use the three IND credits as electives.

Progressing in the Major

Students must maintain good academic standing with at least a GPA of 2.0.

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