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Self-Design: Frequently Asked Questions

What is self-design?

The self-design degree program is an interdisciplinary program at NC State that enables students to design a curriculum that crosses disciplinary boundaries and creates a unique educational experience. This major is for students who have a clear and unique theme for their education.

What kind of careers will a self-design major prepare me for?

Career possibilities are unique to each degree. Students explore the possibilities in the IDS 490 capstone course. In IDS 490, students participate in real world service experiences that enable them to envision and test possible career directions.

What additional requirements, such as study abroad, service learning or internships, are part of self-design?

Service learning is an integral part of the capstone experience and is required of all majors. Study abroad and internships are encouraged.

Can I combine two minors for the degree?

The degree requires students to gain knowledge in multiple academic disciplines. To achieve the necessary amount of interdisciplinary understanding, the degree is best designed with courses from at least three different academic areas. At least five of the courses defining the self-design degree must be from the humanities and social sciences.

Can I add courses from the Poole College of Management?

Courses in economics may be added. Inclusion of courses from the Poole College of Management is subject to “restrictions” imposed by the college of management. Students are advised to select courses from the college of management carefully.

How many courses can I transfer into the major?

A total of 12 hours defining the self-design degree may be transferred, completed or in-progress at the time the application for the degree is submitted. Consult your advisor to gain a complete understanding of the above three categories of course hours that may be recognized for the self-design degree.

 What is the capstone course?

IDS 490* is designed as the capstone (culminating) experience of the self-design program of study for each student.  Therefore, it should occur after the majority of the courses identified in the proposed concentration have been successfully completed (grades of C- or better). 

IDS 490 represents the ability of the student to conceptualize and conduct an independent service-based learning activity related to the approved concentration in the self-design program. It is important that the academic advisor be closely involved with the student in the development of the capstone project, in addition to the instructor of record in IDS 490.

The site of the service-based learning activity should be established prior to the semester in which the student is enrolled in IDS 490 through a written agreement that specifies the name of the community partner/agency where the project will be conducted, a clear statement of the goals and intended outcomes, how it reflects the individual program of approved study, time frame and the signatures of the student, agency representative, academic advisor and supervising faculty in IDS 490.

It is expected that in addition to the service-based learning activity, the student who is enrolled in IDS 490 will prepare a scholarly product related to the activity that will be presented in a public session attended by the academic advisor, peers, the partner service agency, members of the IDS Advisory Committee, and any other members of the NC State faculty and extended community.

*In rare circumstances, an equivalent 400-level independent course activity approved by advisory committee may be used to fulfill the IDS 490 requirement. For example, if a student is involved in a research activity with a professor and proposes to write a thesis paper reporting the research and social/cultural benefits and implications to a global societal issue, with the approval of the academic advisor, the proposal would be considered for final approval by the IDS Advisory Committee.

Who is my academic program advisor in the self-design major?

The academic program advisor for each student in the self-design program is the program coordinator. The coordinator will assist you at the beginning with answering questions about the program, guide you through the application process and meet with you periodically until the completion of your degree.

What is the role of the academic program advisor in self-design after I am admitted?

  • Serve as the advisor of record for each student in the self-design program. This person’s name will appear in all university records in MyPack Portal as the designated advisor, including on the automated degree audit. 
  • Release the hold on your registration. 
  • Respond to inquiries about the general degree requirements in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Consult with your faculty sponsor about course substitutions in your concentration should the need arise.
  • Approve with signature authority changes on your degree audit and requests for changes in your degree program, including course substitutions and adding, dropping or withdrawing from courses.
  • Provide general guidance about the B.A. or B.S. self-design program.
  • Act as the advocate and liaison for you within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Note: If your self-design program is a dual, second or third major, you might be enrolled in more than one college at NC State and have additional academic advisors for other degree programs. You will need to meet the requirements for each degree program in which you are enrolled.

How do I find an appropriate faculty sponsor?

The faculty sponsor must be someone who is a member of the full-time faculty at NC State who has expertise in one of the disciplinary areas of your proposed concentration. Ideally, this should be a faculty member who teaches upper-level courses in the proposed Concentration. You might know the faculty member prior to preparing your application, or you might wish to ask the program advisor for suggestions.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the faculty sponsor?

  • Agree to serve as the faculty sponsor and mentor for your individual degree program. 
  • Review your application and offer advice about the selection of courses in your concentration and your leaning outcomes.
  • Approve the concentration on the final application you submit. The signature of the faculty sponsor/mentor on your application indicates that the sponsor deems the proposed self-design concentration to be a coherent and rigorous program of interdisciplinary studies.
  • Approve course substitutions in your concentration should the need arise.
  • Serve as a general resource for information about opportunities related to your area of concentration (e.g. campus organizations, internships, undergraduate research, study abroad, careers, graduate school, etc.).
  • Offer suggestions for the service-learning component in your capstone course — IDS 490. Your faculty sponsor/mentor will be invited and encouraged to attend your final presentations in IDS 490.

Where can I find degree requirements for self-design majors?

How do I become an IDS Self-Design major?

All current NC State students wanting to become and/or add a self-design major must have completed at least 12 hours of coursework at NC State. Only current NC State students apply for admission to the major. Interested students should meet with the program coordinator to discuss application details.

If I choose the self-design major as a second major, what additional curriculum requirements are there?

  • If both majors are in CHASS, then you will just need to complete the “departmental requirements” for the self-design major indicated on your degree application.
  • If your two majors will be in different colleges, you will need to complete the additional requirements for the other college and the other department. The best way to find out is to test this out in MyPack Portal.
  • For your two majors the following restrictions apply:
    • No more than nine hours of overlap coursework may be counted in the two majors’ departmental requirements. (There is no restriction on the amount of overlap that is allowed in GER or free elective coursework)
  • Read degree requirements the B.A. and B.S. degrees.

Can I minor in the self-design degree?

No, self-design does not have a minor.

What makes a good fit as a minor or second major for self-design?

This is best determined in consultation with the director/academic advisor of the self-design major or your faculty sponsor.

Where can I find information about scholarships and financial aid?

Information on scholarships and financial aid can be found here.

Do you have an affiliated graduate program?

Yes, the Master of Arts in liberal studies (MALS) is available.

What are good graduate programs in the self-design degree or closely related fields?

Programs are best identified once the focus of the undergraduate degree is designed.

Who can I talk to if I have other questions about the self-design degree?

The self-design program coordinator, Alicia McGill (