Customized Major

male student writing on white board with text "Can I design a major that works for me?"

Design a major that fits your interests and career goals.
50 Credit Hours (Minimum)

Overview

Westminster’s dedicated faculty members are here to ensure you pursue a course of study that is the right fit for you and your ambitions. Your education should support your passion and drive, encourage your curiosity, and allow you to use your agency to explore your interests. You don’t have to fit into a conventional major. With a customized major, you’ll create the perfect personalized academic experience. Faculty will help you craft a plan of study made up of courses that explore your interests, answer your questions, and align with your professional and educational goals.

Who It's For

All students (including transfer and returning) are encouraged to explore creating a customized major. This is a great option if:

  • Your multiple interests, ideal career path, and/or plans for graduate studies don’t fall into a pre-defined major
  • You’re passionate about an issue
  • You’re looking for answers to pressing problems
  • You want to create a major that is unique to you
  • You're focused, highly motivated, creative, or curious
  • You want to explore connections between disciplines

Key Benefits

  • Individualized faculty advising
  • Fully customized plan of study
  • Ability to explore multiple disciplines
  • Opportunities to complete internships and study abroad
  • Encouragement to explore unique questions and pressing problems
  • Gives you a unique story that helps you stand out to employers and graduate schools
Obaid headshot

As a first-generation student and person of color, the program brought me a new sense of inclusion, a sense of having an inclusive educational experience where I am not afraid to take a variety of challenging classes in several academic disciplines to become a well-rounded and educated global citizen and leader.

Obaid Barakzai ('22)
 

About the Program

What You'll Learn

The learning goals you identify with your faculty members will shape what you learn. However, all students in a customized major will deepen their capacities in the following areas:

  • Agency: Act independently and make your own free choices.
  • Critical Thinking: Comprehensively explore issues, ideas, artifacts, events, and other positions.
  • Creativity: Combine or synthesize new ideas, practices, or expertise in original ways characterized by innovation, divergent thinking, and risk-taking.
  • Collaboration: Demonstrate self-awareness, understanding of effective group dynamics, and project management skills.
  • Communication: Communicate ideas to audiences in verbal, visual, and written forms to establish knowledge, increase understanding, or advocate for a particular position.
  • Global Responsibility: Employ practices informed by social responsibility across the spectrum of differences and demonstrate knowledge of and evaluate solutions for challenges affecting local, regional, and global communities.

Plan of Study

Design Process

Designing a customized major can take several months. You should start the process as early as possible. However, you cannot submit your customized major application until you have completed the equivalent of 1 full-time semester of academic work at Westminster and earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher in all courses completed.

Current Students: Contact Julie Stewart, customized major program director.

Future Griffins: Talk to your admissions counselor about pursuing a customized major or request more information about the program and Westminster to be assigned a counselor. The Office of Admissions will assist you in your admissions process and connect you with Julie Stewart, customized major program director.

The director will schedule an interview to discuss your academic history and interests, explain the process of designing and proposing a customized major, and refer you to 2 faculty members who will:

  • Provide field-specific advice
  • Support you throughout your academic experience
  • Identify campus clubs/organizations, internships, and community service opportunities that help you stand out in a competitive world
Application

With help from your faculty members, you will fill out a customized major application, identifying:

  • Major title
  • Sequenced courses from relevant disciplines (plan of study)
  • Learning goals
  • Career and/or educational objectives supported
  • How the major compares to existing programs in the same field at other institutions

A complete customized major application should be submitted to the customized major program director for approval at least 3 semesters before your planned graduation date.

2021–22 Program Requirements

You will be held to the program requirements in the academic catalog for the academic year you begin your customized major. Academic catalogs for the next academic year are published towards the end of the spring semester of the current academic year.

VIEW program IN THE ACADEMIC CATALOG

Curriculum Requirements
  • Curriculum consists of courses from 2 or more academic programs
  • Curriculum is unified by a solid conceptual framework that reflects breadth and depth of inquiry
  • 50 credit hours minimum (must take 80% at Westminster)
  • At least 1 course is in research methods from one of the primary disciplines
  • Selected courses reflect a reasonable balance and sequence of introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses
  • Completion of a senior capstone project or thesis that integrates insights, information, and methods from the relevant disciplines into a focused inquiry or experience
    • Must be proposed to the advisory committee.
    • Project results should be presented in a public forum at Westminster (such as the Westminster Student Showcase) or elsewhere.

It is strongly recommended that you complete a minimum of 8 credit hours of world language classes, though introductory language classes are not applicable toward the major.

Up to 8 credit hours may be satisfied by independent study, internships, community work, and supervised work experience.

Only classes passed with a C or higher are applicable towards the major.

General Requirements
  • Approval from 2 faculty members and the customized major program director
  • A clear relation to career or educational objectives

Liberal Education Courses

You must complete the WCore program or join the Honors College (and complete requirements) to fulfill your liberal education credits.

Cambri Fox headshot

While at Westminster, I was able to study and learn about my exact interests and passions, and I believe that propelled me to be able to get where I want to be in my post-graduate life.

Cambri Fox (’21)
 

Sample Customized Majors

There are endless possibilities for a customized major. Students have crafted majors such as:

  • Adventure tourism
  • Behavioral economics
  • Business management and video production
  • Disability justice
  • Diversity studies
  • Environmental entrepreneurship
  • Global affairs
  • Healthcare justice
  • Kinesiology
  • Medicine, health, and society
  • Music therapy
  • Neuroscience of dance
  • Recreation management
  • Scientific illustration
  • Sustainable development
  • Web design for marketing
  • Exercise and wellness

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Want to learn more about the Customized Major program?

Current Students: Contact Julie Stewart, customized major program director.

Future Griffins: Talk to your admissions counselor about pursuing a customized major or request more information about the program and Westminster to be assigned a counselor. The Office of Admissions will assist you in your admissions process and connect you with Julie Stewart, customized major program director.

Career Opportunities

Whether you choose to continue your education through graduate studies or start your professional career, your abilities in cross-disciplinary thinking, active problem solving, and more that you improve through your customized major will allow you to approach issues uniquely and stand out among your peers. You will also have a personal story about your education that demonstrates your motivation, creativity, curiosity, and ability to use your agency. Additionally, you will enter the professional world with a résumé and portfolio that show your field-related experience from the experiential learning, internships, and volunteer opportunities you pursued at Westminster, allowing you to talk in interviews with employers and graduate schools about the professional experience you have, not just the courses you took.

Student Success

Customizing your plan of study based on your professional and educational goals helps you succeed anywhere life takes you. Alumni have pursued graduate studies at a variety of institutions (including law and medical school) and secured careers as entrepreneurs, artists, lawyers, leaders of non-profit organizations, physicians, public servants, global diplomats, and more.

Katie Boutwell

Katie Boutwell (’21) 

Customized major: Global affairs 

Post-graduation plans: Obtaining a master of arts degree in strategic intelligence studies at The Institute of World Politics 

Accomplishments: 

  • Completed advanced coursework in Mandarin Chinese and Formal Standard Arabic 
  • Research intern at Mali Rising Foundation 
  • Volunteer with the Robert G. Sanderson Center Community Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Road Home 

If there is anything Katie Boutwell is sure of, they always had a knack for languages. Acknowledging this pushed Katie toward finding ways to support the international community and, eventually, to Westminster’s Customized Major program focusing on global affairs.

During their educational experience at Westminster, Katie discovered a passion for research and policymaking. The program helped Katie develop the skills necessary to analyze intelligence and assist in security and development policy, preparing for a future in helping protect communities against growing and imminent threats. 

Looking forward, Katie hopes to work in the intelligence community (CIA, DIA, or FBI) as an intelligence analyst focusing on China or the Middle East. 

Kate Blair

Kate Blair ('21)

Customized major: Dance pedagogy for multilingual learners

Post-graduation plans: Entering Westminster College’s Master of Arts in Teaching program 

Accomplishments: 

  • Honors Summer Research funding​ recipient
  • Resident with the ArtsBridge Institute​
  • Presented research at multiple national conferences​
  • Honors College student
  • “Sacred In-Between” (capstone dance) 

The gift of studying in a self-directed format allows Kate Blair to focus on dance pedagogy for multilingual learners. Blair’s passion for artistic expression and creating equitable educational spaces for language learners informed their academic goals and Honors research in “Sustaining Belonging in the In-Between through Physical Storytelling.” 

Kate plans to continue interweaving passion into their education by entering the Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education program to develop a capacity to serve diverse learners through arts and language integration. Kate also plans to pursue a Sorenson Arts Scholarship and complete an endorsement in Teaching English as a Second Language. 

Obaid Barakzai

Obaid Barakzai ('22)

Customized major: International political economy​  

Post-graduation plans: Attend graduate school at George Washington or American University, Washington D.C., and begin career as a global diplomat

Accomplishments: 

  • 2020–21 ASW President
  • Collaborated with 350 student body presidents across the country on a climate justice initiative
  • Global Citizens Initiative-invited speaker at Harvard and the United Nations (2017 and 2018)
  • Honors College student
  • Currently working with the Office for Global Peace and Spirituality, and International Student Association 

Obaid Barakzai believes the Customized Major program embodies an interdisciplinary approach, allowing students to find a sense of purpose and meaning behind every class they take. Barakzai acknowledges the programs’ flexibility and support enables them to take courses in various academic fields, sparking curiosity and intellectual fearlessness as a student and leader. The program gives Obaid the ability to study for their dream major, international political economy, while pushing them to explore the limitlessness of academia. Obaid feels the program is preparing them for graduate school, where they plan to study international relations and public policy.

Ashley Greenwood

Ashley Greenwood (’23) 

Customized major: Exercise and wellness

Post-graduation plans: Become a certified personal trainer

Accomplishments: 

  • Holds record for the Desert Hills High School girls’ basketball team’s single-game score (40 points)
  • Completed coursework at Brigham Young University and Dixie State University 

Ashley Greenwood's passion for overall health and physical activity led them to choose the Customized Major program, focusing on exercise and wellness. The program's flexibility allows Greenwood to add psychology classes to their degree plan, combining health's physical and mental aspects. Ashley hopes to help people reach their exercise and wellness goals as a personal trainer by integrating mental and emotional health components in their physical training philosophy. 

“I think it’s so important to learn more about how to make our bodies healthier and more efficient. However, being a student-athlete, I have realized that the mental game is just as important, if not more important than, the physical game. That’s why I have added some psychology classes to my degree plan.” —Ashley Greenwood (’23)

Stacy Stanford

Alumni

Stacy Stanford (’16) 

Customized major: Disability justice 

Post-graduation plans: Works as a health policy analyst at Utah Health Policy Project

Accomplishments: 

As a health policy analyst for the Utah Health Policy Project, Stacy Stanford works on state and federal health care solutions for underserved Utahns. Stacy’s custom major degree in disability justice provided opportunities to study subjects aligned with their interests, goals, and post-graduate careers. 

Stanford’s experiences in the Customized Major program provided them the essential knowledge necessary for working in the non-profit sector—from statistics and research methods to community building, critical theory, intersectionality, and even constitutional law. As a custom major, Stacy gained independence and flexibility, shaping them into a leader for their community and workplace.

Chris Manfre

Chris Manfre (’19) 

Customized major: Biomedical illustration 

Post-graduation plans: Animator for Gantry Creative

Accomplishments: 

  • Presented “Education Remix: The Changing Role of Art in our Society” at TEDxSaltLakeCity
  • Previously worked for Intermountain Healthcare, as well as a DJ, artist, and filmmaker at Spy Hop​.
  • Completed coursework at The University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College
  • Completed degree as a working student-parent 

Chris Manfre was unsure of his ability to juggle fatherhood while earning a bachelor’s degree until he discovered Westminster’s Customized Major program. Chris was able to study subjects he authentically loved. Manfre credits the program for helping prepare for his position at Intermountain Healthcare as a designer and animator in patient education; the unique degree helped him stand out from other applicants and instilled a desire to evolve as a professional continuously. 

Currently, Chris uses his educational experience to identify insights in the healthcare industry and improve patient education through new visual technologies. Chris also credits his custom major degree sponsors for providing encouragement and pushing him to try something different. 


READ MORE ABOUT CHRIS

Maggie Regier

Maggie Regier (’20) 

Customized major: Community health 

Post-graduation plans: Manager of alumni engagement for Westminster’s Office of Institutional Advancement and student in Westminster’s Master of Arts in Community Leadership program 

Accomplishments: 

  • 2019–20 ASW President
  • Honors College alum
  • Involved with Feminist Club, Theatre Society, and VDay​
  • Volunteered for Stan Penfold's mayoral campaign​
  • Interned with the Democratic Party of Utah​
  • Presented “The Whole Damn Cake” at Westminster Thinks Big 

Maggie Regier acknowledges their custom major degree as the biggest key to their success. Regier constructed a course plan around their interests, gained tools and knowledge, and developed an interdisciplinary insight. As a student of the program, Maggie was able to simultaneously complete theatre and political internships, job shadow, and choose coursework focusing on reducing maternal mortality rates. 

Even after completing the program, Maggie utilizes the skills they developed and continuously looks for new approaches to problem-solving. Maggie credits the Customized Major program for giving them the space to think about the world through a lens aligning with their values and uses this perspective to navigate issues in the workplace. 

Cambri Fox

Cambri Fox (’21) 

Customized major: Neuroscience of dance

Post-graduation plans: Completing medical school and, during a gap year, working a variety of medical jobs

Accomplishments: 

  • Honors College alumni
  • Former Griffin Orientation leader
  • Served as vice president and president of Westminster's Dance Society

Cambri Fox’s custom major degree concerns the neuroscience of dance, with premedical, neuroscience, and movement courses. By combining these various courses, Cambri focused on their passion for movement-based therapy for neurodegenerative diseases.

Fox’s degree helped them reach a goal of gaining entrance into medical school, and was offered a job at The University of Utah as a researcher and study coordinator in the Parkinson Lab. While conducting interviews, Cambri successfully communicated how their custom major degree was directly related to their future goals, allowed them to explore their interests, and helped to stand out against competing applicants.

Alec Monson

Alec Monson (’21) 

Customized major: Applied ethics and entreprenuership

Post-graduation plans: JD candidate for The Universit of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law ('23)

Accomplishments: 

  • Shooting guard for Westminster Men's Basketball

Alec Monson was grateful for the Customized Major program’s widespread opportunities as a transfer student entering their junior year. Monson held many interests, but the Customized Major program gave them the option of combining philosophy and political science.

Having the ability to curate a program to their interests, Alec used their studies to understand the world better. Alec credits the program for helping them develop logic, communication, and writing skills. In addition, the faculty and advisors of the program were instrumental in pushing Alec to question, list, and get out of their narrative, a foundation that molded them into a future lawyer fit for acknowledging community needs.

 

Tuition and Aid

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With the highest percentage of students who complete one or more internships in the state, Westminster students hit the ground running with real-world experience. Plus, 90% of students were either employed or attending graduate school within 5 months of graduating. With a Westminster degree, you don't have to choose between a successful career and a fulfilling life.

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You’ll be automatically considered for scholarship and grant opportunities.

In addition to general merit scholarships, other scholarship programs are available to support you throughout your time at Westminster.

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All students should have the ability to explore their passions. Westminster College is proud to cover the cost of tuition for qualifying students through the Westminster Commitment.

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