The Independent Program Committee consists of five faculty members: the director and a representative of each of the four curricular divisions of the college.
The Independent Program is available to students who wish to elect an interdisciplinary field of concentration that is not provided by one of the regular departments, interdepartmental concentrations, or multidisciplinary programs of the college.
Requirements for Concentration: A minimum of 12 units, with the following distribution: no more than 2 units at the 100-level and at least 4 units at the 300-level (which must include a senior thesis or project, work from at least two departments, and a minimum of 2 units taken for a letter grade). Of the 12 units, none may be elected NRO and a maximum of 3 units may be ungraded. Units in excess of the minimum 12 may be taken at any level and may be ungraded or NRO work. Appropriate courses taken away from Vassar, either in an approved study abroad program or at another college or university in the U.S., may be included in the major. The choice of program and courses should be made in consultation with the Independent Program Committee as a part of the proposal procedure.
Senior-Year Requirements: A senior thesis or project (Independent 300-301 or 302) for 1 unit. This thesis may be taken for a letter grade or as ungraded work, and may be elected for the first semester, the second semester, or the entire year.
Procedures for Admission to the Independent Program: After identifying the proposed field of concentration and, when possible, consulting appropriate faculty, the student meets with the director of the Independent Program to discuss general guidelines. The student then submits a written program proposal which defines the major, lists all proposed courses (both for the major and outside the major) and fully describes and justifies the courses for the major. This initial proposal should also include the names of potential advisers for the major. The Independent Program Committee then evaluates the contents of the proposal and the relevance of the proposed courses; the committee may also propose alternate advisers. In consultation with the approved advisers, the student revises the proposal for resubmission to the committee. Only upon final approval by the committee is the student admitted to the Independent Program.
As is evident from the above description of the procedures, the process of declaring an independent major generally involves several consultations and revisions. Consequently, students should expect to begin the process in advance of the normal deadlines for declaration of the major. Students may apply for admission to the Independent Program after their first semester at Vassar. Students who plan to include courses taken abroad at an approved JYA or exchange program should submit their initial proposal no later than the Friday following October break of their sophomore year. Students who plan to include courses taken at another U.S. institution should submit their initial proposals no later than the Friday of the first week of the spring semester of their sophomore year. All other students should submit their initial proposal by March 1 of their sophomore year.