Students who discover they have a highly specific career plan that requires a specific degree or a unique combination of courses may benefit from the self-directed major. The self-directed major is designed to maximize opportunities for students to tailor their education to better achieve their post-graduate outcomes.

Requirements for admission to the Self-Directed Major program:

  • A B or higher in ASL and English courses required for the Core Curriculum, or equivalent for transfer students.
  • A GPA of 3.0 or better
  • A copy of your Gallaudet and relevant unofficial transcripts;
  • No fewer than three semesters from planned graduation;
  • Must adhere to the Senior Year Residency policy; and
  • A proposed course plan.
    • The course plan should include a sequence of 36-45 credit hours that includes at least 24 credits from upper level courses, possibly including a capstone course and internship course. The course plan with upper-level courses must be distinct from an existing degree program. Self-Directed Major students, with support of their academic advisor(s), may determine a capstone course possibly housed in the academic program where a majority of SDM courses are housed. They have the option of taking two capstone courses from two different academic programs. They should also pursue an internship opportunity.
    • The proposed degree name must not replicate an existing name of a degree program.
    • A maximum of two courses may be independent study. Students should provide the course topics and descriptions and identify possible instructors.
    • A maximum of two courses may be completed through the consortium or external institutions. In special circumstances a third course is needed, please include an explanation for it and how it meets the SDM goals. Students should provide a menu of acceptable consortium courses in case the first choice course is not available.
    • Each student is expected to complete at least one internship relevant to their SDM studies. Students should provide a detailed description of the kind of internship they will seek. This description can include desired organization/companies, skills they would want to develop, or a specific sub-area of their major they are interested in.
    • A maximum of 15 upper level credits in a proposed major may be courses they have already completed prior to applying for a SDM.
  • A carefully composed essay in ASL or English outlining the applicant’s educational goals, and why traditional majors or double majors will not meet these goals along with a justification of the selection of courses, internships, and other components used for the Self-Directed Major. Make sure to include information about whether a vocational rehabilitation counselor would approve the SDM and whether the graduate school or prospective employer would accept the SDM.
  • Approval of chosen self-directed major advisor(s).
  • Approval of the self-directed major committee.

Self-Directed Majors must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in the program. Faculty advisors will monitor the academic direction and quality of work and effort with the major.

Any changes to the student’s course plan (including internships and consortium courses) must be approved by the self-directed major committee in advance. (If last-minute changes are necessary, the committee will rush decisions during add/drop week.) Changes independently undertaken by the student or their faculty advisor(s) without prior approval may not count towards graduation.

Students who are not approved by the Self-Directed Committee may appeal to the Dean of the Faculty. A one-page letter in ASL or English should be submitted to the Dean of the Faculty within ten academic days (excluding weekends and holidays). The Dean of the Faculty shall respond with a decision within ten academic days.



Academia Questions

Students who decide to make changes in their Self-Directed Major will need to have those changes approved before they will be counted toward the major. Students who wish to drop the Self-Directed Major would face the same situation as those who wish to drop traditional majors.
Yes, and also switch from a Self-Directed Major to a traditional major. The consequences would be the same as switching between traditional majors.
Yes, but not necessarily more likely to do so than traditional majors.
Some major research project, paper, or thesis would be expected as a final project. This would serve as a way for the student to integrate the major’s various components.
Students may attempt to take a maximum of two courses through the consortium for the Self-Directed Major. Consortium courses are often difficult to get into, and students cannot depend on these for the major. This is why we require that the majority of planned courses be taken at Gallaudet.
Self-Directed Majors allow and encourage creativity for both students and departments. They provide more flexibility for both students and departments and enhance the intellectual environment on campus.
Self-Directed Majors are for those students who have educational goals that cannot be satisfactorily fulfilled by traditional majors, majors and minors, or double majors. In selecting a Self-directed Major, students accept the responsibility of designing and adhering to their individual program of study toward their major. Participation requires students to take a high degree of initiative and seek significant challenges.
Students would more or less follow the same timeline as those students declaring a traditional major. They would be expected to complete the same general required foundation courses as those pursuing a traditional major. Students would not declare their Self-Directed Major before the second semester of their sophomore year, nor later than the first semester of their junior year. Since their proposed study plan must be approved before they can declare their Self-Directed Major, students will need to have their proposal ready for review a semester before declaring a major.
The number would be similar to the number required for traditional majors. At least 30 credit hours would be expected, but a student may propose as many as 45 credit hours. 100-level courses do not usually count for the major. At least half of the credit hours toward the Self-Directed Major must be from 300- or 400-level courses taken at Gallaudet, with no more than six credit hours being independent study. The remaining credits would most likely be taken through the consortium, but we are not ruling out other options the student may be able to justify.
The application consists of two parts. The first part is an essay. This is the applicant’s chance to communicate her or his educational goals, explain why traditional majors, majors with minors, or double majors will not meet these educational goals and justify the selection of courses, internships, and other components used to fulfill them. The essay should demonstrate how these courses from various departments are integrated into a cohesive program. The second part of the application would be a course plan. This lists the courses and establishes the sequence of the applicant’s self-directed major. In proposing a sequence of courses, the necessary prerequisites must be taken into account.
Self-Directed Majors are designed for students who wish to construct their major programs of study in accordance with their needs, capabilities, and interests. Self-Directed Majors provide an alternative for students with unusual interests or talents in a single field or a unique combination of interests or talents in several fields.

Get the Details

Fill out our inquiry form for an Admissions Counselor to contact you.

Inquiry Form

Apply Today

Create an account to start Your Applications.

Create an Account

Contact the Admissions Office?

Undergraduate Admissions

Contact Us

Self-Directed Major

9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm

Select what best describes your relationship to Gallaudet University so we can efficiently route your email.
By submitting this form, I opt in to receive select information and deaf resources from Gallaudet University via email.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.