The Independent Scholars major is housed academically in University Programs. The Independent Scholars web page is accessible through the Honors College site.

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Overviews site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Do you want to chart your own path? The Independent Scholars major is for you. This major provides students with a learning environment in which they develop their own academic goals and design their own major. Each student works with faculty to devise a curriculum and research plans.  Acceptance into IS is competitive and open to all JMU students with a GPA of 3.25 or higher, or by permission. Interested students optimally will meet with one of the IS coordinators during their first year. 

Characteristics of Successful Students

Students who are self-motivated, interested in research, and unable to address their interests sufficiently within any of the existing majors or minors may want to explore this major. Traits beneficial to success in this major include exceptional motivation, curiosity, writing ability, communication skills, and the ability to work both independently and collaboratively. 


Because the Independent Scholars major is entirely individualized to each student’s unique areas of interest, the potential career pathways are unlimited and specific to each individual. 

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Students pursuing the Independent Scholars major will not only design their own major based on areas of inquiry, but they will plan and participate actively in research and field study within those areas. Additionally, field experiences, internships, and/or study abroad experiences are encouraged. 

Each student will work closely with Independent Scholars faculty and a faculty mentor from another academic unit to design the curriculum, research and field study- including experiential education.

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to career@jmu.edu

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