Calvin Durand

Self-Designed Major

Some of our strongest students find that no one traditional major fully meets what they want to study.

A student interested in linguistics, for instance, could major in a modern language and sociology-anthropology but still might find her needs aren’t entirely met with those two departments alone. Or a student wanting to pursue advertising might need to combine marketing courses with courses in design and communication.

The mission of the Self-Designed Major is to provide an avenue by which Lake Forest College students can achieve a level of competence similar to that of students in any of our regularly-offered undergraduate majors, in an academic area of their own design. Working with a faculty advisor, a student accepted into the Self-Designed Major can pursue his or her own course of study deeply, culminating in a senior thesis, creative project, or research project. 

The Self-Designed Major emphasizes self-determination for its students, while offering guidance and assistance in developing their individualized plans.

The responsibility for design and execution of the major lies with students, beginning with presentation of their cases for admission to the program. Students contemplating designing their own majors are encouraged to schedule an appointment with any member of the Self-Designed Major Committee to discuss application procedures, to brainstorm appropriate foci for their studies, or to solicit recommendations for faculty advisors. This major is compatible with the pursuit of a second major as well. 

Ideally, one should apply for a self-designed major as a second-semester sophomores or first-semester junior: but all applications will be considered. The application consists of a detailed proposal, the details of which can be found on the requirements page. Admission to the program is determined by the Self-Designed Major Program Committee, on the basis of the quality of students’ proposals.

Below, you’ll see a broad variety of self-designed majors that our students have completed in recent years. These majors have led to some fascinating senior theses, such as “Dr. No Time To Die: How the James Bond Franchise Balances Tradition and Modernization,” “Onboarding: Lessons from the Pandemic,” "The Roots of the Forest” (Documentary Film), “International Hospitality and Experience Management,”Arts Administration,” “European Federalism and the Social Welfare States: How Free Movement, Subsidiarity, and the ECB Affect Safety New Spending in the E.U.,” “Do Androids Joke of Electric Sheep? An Examination of the Theoretical and Technical Future of Figurative Language Computation,” “The Success of Mama Grizzlies: An Examination of the Intersection of Gender and Partisan Stereotyping at the Gubernatorial Level,” and “‘Amped About Hell’: Representations of the Suburban Gothic in Serial Television.”

Some Recent Self-Designed Majors:

  • Theater and Cultural Justice (2023)
  • Scientific Illustration (2021, 2023)
  • International Space Law (2023)
  • Journalism (2018; 2023)
  • Film Production/ Cinema Studies/Video Production (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Architectural Studies (2021)
  • Human Resource Management (2021)
  • Legal Studies (2018)
  • International Hospitality and Experience Management (2018)
  • International Human Rights (2018)
  • Print and Digital Publishing (2018)
  • Marketing and Entrepreneurship (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Film and Television Studies (2017)
  • Digital Marketing (2017, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Performance Studies (2016)
  • Fashion History/Fashion (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Sustainable Urban Development (2015, 2016)
  • Linguistics (2013, 2014)
  • Arts Administration (2012, 2019)
  • Women and Gender Studies (2012, 2019)
Some Recent Self-Designed Majors
  • International Hospitality and Experience Management (2018)
  • International Human Rights (2018)
  • Print and Digital Publishing (2018)
  • Immigration and Human Rights: Crossing the Border (2018)
  • Marketing and Entrepreneurship (2017, 2018)
  • Film and Television Studies (2017)
  • Italian (2017)
  • Digital Marketing (2017)
  • International Advertising and Design (2017)
  • Performance Studies (2016)
  • Fashion History (2016)
  • Sustainable Urban Development (2015, 2016)
  • Anthropological Linguistics (2014)
  • Aesthetics in Television (2014)
  • Linguistics (2013)
  • Sustainable Enterprise Management (2013)
  • Arts Administration (2012, 2019)
  • Women and Gender Studies (2012, 2019)
  • Intercultural Aesthetics (2012)
  • European Union Studies (2012)
Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation

The self-designed major can be tailored to create a major in Entrepreneurship or Social Innovation. Several students have done so already. In order to use the self-designed major to do so, however, you must have a specific problem you are trying to solve that will lead to the creation of a new social or business venture, and work with your advisor to design a set of courses that include the core entrepreneurship and innovation curriculum, digital media design and marketing, and a subset of courses with a specific area of focus. The area of focus supports the problem you are solving related to a specific topic like clean technology, food, poverty, social justice or consumer products. See the Requirements page for further information.

If I don’t like something, I’m not going to do it,” says Paris. “My intention is to be well rounded.” She can see herself “running a theater or some type of business or event. I just want whatever I choose to do to make me happy and that I enjoy my job.
Every college student is on a different journey, and I think that Lake Forest College does a really nice job of letting students—especially self-designed majors—be self-sufficient with their studies, yet a part of the school’s beautiful community.

Contact Us

Dawn Abt-Perkins
Associate Dean of Faculty for Student Success
Co-Chair of Self-Designed Major
Hotchkiss Hall 104

Janet McCracken
Professor of Philosophy
Co-Chair of Self-Designed Major
Durand Art Institute 101

Donald Meyer
Professor of Music
Co-Chair of Self-Designed Major
Reid Hall 207

Contact Us

Marilén Loyola
Assistant Professor of Spanish
Carnegie Hall 106

Kimberly Hazlett
Library Director
Donnelley and Lee Library 104