Self-Designed Studies

A self-designed interdisciplinary major allows students to map out their own education at Central. The major is intended for students whose academic interests and goals can be best met by combining and integrating the work of two or more academic departments.

By nature, the self-designed interdisciplinary major is flexible while also having a central theme or interest. Interested in public policy and healthcare? Data science and environmental sustainability? Or art and business management? This major allows students to connect disciplines to create a major uniquely personalized to their interests. Go ahead and pursue cultural studies, data science, gender studies or American studies. The sky’s the limit.

Students selecting this major work with their faculty advisors to prepare for a variety of graduate school programs and professional careers.

of self-designed interdisciplinary majors are involved in post-graduate service
The number of semester hours students in the self-designed interdisciplinary major complete as part of their major
Prepare a proposal and work with a faculty advisor to work across the college’s curriculum

The Central Difference

Research Opportunities

Self-designed interdisciplinary majors can be actively engaged in research projects—some during the summer, others as independent senior honors projects or assisting with faculty research. Students often present the results of their research at conferences or in a campus presentation.

Fine Arts at Central

Find your fit in the fine arts at Central College. The opportunities to express and fine-tune your creative side are endless here at Central.

Off-Campus Experiences

Central students can study off-campus — both internationally or domestically in the United States. These opportunities give students the chance to prepare to be global citizens, equipped to compete in the global job market. Students can check out experiences led by Central faculty or attend select academic programs across the world that provide opportunities for study, service, internships and other types of experiential learning. Options include experiences in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Central America, Ghana, England, the Scottish Highlands and more.


Central College is one of the most beautiful college campuses you'll find. A perfect mix of old and new, our buildings reflect our history and our future. Central's distinctive library is a spacious and popular haven with more than 230,000 volumes, computer stations, a multimedia collection and extensive online catalog.

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

The self-designed interdisciplinary program is designed to create endless opportunities for students as they tailor their degree to their academic needs and interests. Popular areas of emphasis include allied health, American studies, arts management, food systems, gender studies, international and global studies and not-for-profit management.

Recent careers include:

  • Registered nurse, St. John Hospital & Medical Center
  • Director of student life, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
  • Pricing analyst, Brownells Inc., Urbandale
  • Human resources coordinator, Children and Families of Iowa
Central College student


No matter what your interests are, Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

Graduate Placement

Self-designed interdisciplinary majors are accepted to top graduate schools, often using their senior project as an example of the research they wish to pursue. Overall, 90 percent of Central students are admitted into the graduate school of their choice.


Self-designed interdisciplinary students intern with a variety of businesses and organizations, both locally and abroad. Depending on areas of emphasis, sites can include hospitals and health care settings, not-for-profits and educational institutions, as well as research opportunities.

Central College student

Courses & Faculty

Every self-designed interdisciplinary student experiences the major a little differently — students can explore a variety of courses to find what fits them best.

Students are encouraged to include an experiential component to their major including internships, practicum or directed research. In their senior year, students complete a three- to six-credit hour integrated capstone thesis or project to round out their education and bring closure to their narrative.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Central College student

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • Exploratory areas of interest
  • Core electives

Sophomore Year

  • Refine your study to three or four disciplines
  • Core electives

Junior Year

  • Identify focus areas
  • Begin final project design
  • Experiential component

Senior Year

  • Senior project


Learn More

Want to find out more about Self-Designed Studies at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.


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