How do I become an IMP?



While the needs of most students are well served by existing majors, some have academic interests that just don’t fit into existing programs or traditional disciplines. The Individualized Major Program (IMP) in the School of Liberal Arts was created for this reason. It serves disciplined and self-motivated students who are looking for a major not offered at IUPUI or those who want to create original majors that reflect their unique interests. The IMP is often a great option for transfer students who wish to continue work started elsewhere in areas where IUPUI has faculty expertise but no organized majors.

Unlike other programs, which prescribe fixed areas of study, the individualized major provides a structure that allows students, in consultation with faculty members, to design their own majors on various topics and fields of study. From Japanese Studies to Ethnobotany to International Health, Individualized Major students create exceptional plans geared toward their interests while meeting the academic rigor and intellectual integrity IUPUI demands. Still interested?


The first step to becoming an Individualized Major is figuring out what makes you tick. If you don’t know, we don’t know! Once you have some basics about how you’d like to frame your IMP, you’ll need to identify a Supervisor. This person must be a faculty member in the School of Liberal Arts and sign on to oversee your IMP. He or she will help you identify courses for your major and give you feedback on your progress. If you’re new to IUPUI or just aren’t sure how to approach someone, we’ll work with you to figure out who might be a good fit for your major. However, like anything else, it works best when you’ve had experience with a faculty member and vice versa. 


Once you have a Supervisor, have them fill out the IMP Advisor Agreement form and bring it to Cavanaugh 540B. We’ll then create a section of SLA I-360 for you. The purpose of this independent study 1-credit course is for you to complete the IMP Proposal Form. You’ll use the semester to work with your Advisor and our office to outline your School of Liberal Arts (SLA) general education classes as well as courses that will apply to your individualized major. In addition, you will complete a 3-4 page Rationale.

Each rationale, like each IMP, will be unique but normally students outline the disciplines that comprise their major, including a discussion of the different methodologies used in the various areas, and the underlying ideas that prove its academic integrity . Though we encourage students to use the IMP to tie together majors from across the University, your IMP must have some foundation in a Liberal Arts discipline. Similarly, if your areas of interest are housed only in SLA (e.g., History and Anthropology), you must explain how an IMP will differ from a traditional major and how your IMP will allow you to create something a double major or major/minor combination cannot. You can find a few example Rationales from past IMP majors linked below.

Near the middle of your SLA I-360 semester, you will submit the completed proposal to your Advisor, the program director and the IMP secretary. A committee of 3-4 faculty members will be formed (including Advisor and director) to review and approve your proposal. This is your opportunity to bring in faculty from across campus and disciplines to help flesh out your ideas and ensure that your IMP is rigorous and thoughtfully designed. If you cannot identify additional members of the committee, the program director will do so for you. In the meeting, you will present and defend your IMP to the group and they will offer feedback that may or may not require a revision. Once your proposal is approved, you will be officially admitted into the Individualized Major Program.


Once you’ve officially declared your major and now that your proposal is finalized, you’ll go through the program like any other student. Our office is happy to advise you each semester to create the best schedule and make sure you’re on track with both general education and major requirements. You’ll stay in contact with your Advisor and keep him or her informed of your progress. Should you decide to change the courses included on your approved proposal, you need to receive authorization from your Advisor, program director and committee. These changes will be noted in your file. As you complete your courses, you should be on the lookout for faculty with whom you’d like to work on your IMP Capstone project. This could be your Advisor or another professor you meet along the way. When you’re toward the end of your junior year, you’ll want to have a rough idea of a capstone project that will incorporate all facets of your major.


The Individualized Major capstone, SLA I-460, is an independent study course meant to integrate and provide a culminating cohesion to your degree. A 3-6 credit course, your capstone project could be as straightforward as a major research paper, as practical as an internship, or as creative as a full-scale art exhibition complete with tickets, catering and balloon animals! The capstone is in your hands, but must be approved by a committee before you can enroll. After working with your superviser, you will submit a 1-2 page capstone proposal the semester before you intend to enroll. A secnd committee meeting will be convened to look over your capstone proposal. The members may or may not be the same as your proposal committee, and we again encourage you to include faculty with whom you have worked throughout your career. Upon approval, an SLA I-460 section will be created with a project title that will appear on your transcript. The capstone may be taken for one or two semesters depending on the size of the project.

(Click here to see capstone proposal guidelines)

Near the end of the semester, you will once again go before a your capstone committee (we love committees!) to discuss and defend your completed project. This group will review your project and agree upon a final grade, which your Advisor will then submit.

Congratulations, you’re now an IMP alumn!


We’re excited you found us! We welcome the chance to talk with anyone who has questions about the Individualized Major process so please contact us if you don’t find the answer to your questions here.

You can find a more lengthy description of the process here and the whole thing in a handy checklist here.

Pertinent Links:

Sample Proposal Rationales: