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Designer Degrees

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I would love to get some information about the recent trend to "design your own degree". I know one young lady who interviewed with Harvard who was told she could do that there. My ds#2 has been getting lots of college information packets and I've noticed several which offer that as well.


Son #3 is a different breed from my others. He would probably greatly benefit from a "designer" degree option. If we are looking to go that route, how does one evaluate a potential college based on that? What criteria should we look at? Also, what should we do during the high school years to make him "designer degree" competitive? Should he already know exactly what he wants to do?

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I would think you have to have some idea what you want to do to design a degree. I can see combining similar or complementary subjects (Spanish & Internat'l business, Screenwriting & English or Film, etc.), but you'd need to work really closely w/your adviser to make it work.


FYI: I had a friend in U in the early '80's who designed his own degree, so while it's a buzz word now, it had been around awhile.

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My son is considering this, with combining environmental science/studies and public policy analysis. He'd like to work in government or for an NGO or go into the Peace Corps/similar after graduation. By reading college and university websites, we've able to tell which schools either have a create-your-own major program or would be open to such an idea. Some websites are very clear, the create-your-own major is listed under "majors and courses of study" :lol: while other websites we could only find the information by reading suggested course selections and other information found on various "majors" pages.


Since my ds has narrowed down the two fields of study to combine, we are looking at schools which have strong programs in both. This takes a lot of time! I've been searching College Confidential and reading books from the library to complement the school website searches.

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I'm curious what people would consider to be the advantages of a "designer degree" vs. doing a double major, or traditional major & minor?




What I've read is that colleges are seeking to keep students enrolled. Some students, usually those who have a specific interest, aren't too interested in taking courses that don't really work toward their life-work interest. Many of these kids perform well in their special field, but do poorly in those courses which, to them, are irrelevant to their career. It would probably not be defined as a "well rounded" education, but rather a narrow focused course of study.


I think that many of these kids will be entrepreneurs. They know what they want to do in life, but can't really find a "patented" degree that fits. Hence, the designer degrees.

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