Self-Designed Studies

Integrated Studies

Self-Designed studies is intended for students whose academic interests and goals can be best met outside the structure of a single discipline or departmental major or combination of majors and minors. By nature, the self-designed studies major is interdisciplinary, while also having a central theme or interest. Self-Designed studies is a versatile major that can serve as excellent preparation for a variety of graduate school programs and professional careers.

of self-designed studies students are involved in post-graduate service
Design and apply the self-designed studies major in countless ways
Self-Designed studies students complete 45 semester hours as part of their major

The Central Difference

Research Opportunities

Self-Designed studies majors are 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.

Central College student

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with Central College to enhance their development as global citizens. Academic opportunities and internship programs also are available in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


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

Self-Designed studies 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, global health and not-for-profit management.

Recently, self-designed studies major Gregory Teets '13 accepted a Fulbright award to teach English in Malaysia. Teets designed a course of study titled "People and Cultural Perspectives." The major drew from the disciplines of Spanish, religion, psychology and communication studies to focus on understanding different people and cultures. Read more about Teets' research and future plans. Other 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 Announces New Self-Designed Studies Minor in Data Science

Central College is adding a self-designed studies minor in data science beginning Fall 2020.


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 studies 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 studies 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 studies 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 3-6 credit-hour integrated capstone thesis or project to round out their education and bring closure to their narrative.

Learn more about Self-Designed Studies in the course catalog.

Central College student

Sample Schedule

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 major and our other strong academic programs.

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