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Your Journey as a Major

Timeline of Key Points for Our Majors

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The AMST and IDS majors have a series of key compontents on the journey to completing the requirements. You can find more detail about all stages of the timeline in our ILA Handbook. We've also included an overview of the stages in this timeline for you below.

The process of declaring the AMST/IDS major is outlined on our Prospective Majors page. You are officially declared into the AMST/IDS major when your Proposal of Courses has been approved by the ILA undergraduate committee. After it is approve, it becomes your Checklist of Courses and serves as a blueprint for registering for classes each semester. You should revisit it each semester with the DUS or ILA major advisor.

Is the proposed plan still leading the student towards a focused senior thesis? Are there new possible course options that may have arisen since the proposal was first submitted? Study abroad often opens unforseen options, for example.

Make changes to your checklist Note: Changes to your Checklist of Courses require written petition (by email to the DUS), and are subject to reapproval by the ILA undergraduate committee.

All majors in the ILA work closely with the DUS and faculty advisors throughout their academic career. Our majors are advised by faculty both in and outside the ILA.

Intensive faculty advising begins when a student is interested in declaring the AMST/IDS major. Students are encouraged to approach and enlist the help of faculty advisors at two distinct stages of their career as interdisciplinary majors: as they declare the AMST/IDS major and as they enter spring of their junior year.

Review details on advising

All AMST and IDS majors are required to take this course in spring of their junior year. This is a permission-only course so the undergraduate program coordinator will send our juniors a permission number to enroll before pre-registration begins.

In IDS 390, students develop a plan for their senior thesis in the spring of their junior year while enrolled in IDS 390 Interdisciplinary Research Design. They are asked to prepare an outline, a bibliography, and other staged pieces of their emerging project, culminating in a proposal. During this course, majors are encouraged to consult with their advisors on the question they are researching. Their advisors give final approval of their project.

All juniors are required to present their research proposal at the annual ILA Undergraduate Spring Research Symposium. It typically takes places the day after the last day of classes. Details are provided to all majors via e-mail.

Seniors may be required to present a 3-minute thesis at the annual ILA Undergraduate Spring Research Symposium.

The senior seminar is not a continuation of IDS 390. Rather, students study the history and theory of interdisciplinary studies. They will also work closely with their faculty advisors. The final paper for this course is a portion of their senior thesis.

Capstone seniors must take IDS 499R/AMST 499R Senior Research (1-3 credits, graded) in the spring of their senior year, earning credit for work on the senior thesis. Students must obtain approval from their thesis advisor, who will meet with the student and grade work.

Honors candidates must take IDS 495RW/AMST 495RW Honors Research (1-8 credits, 4 credits per semester max, graded). At least one credit is required in the student's final semester (generally spring) but it may be taken both fall and spring. Students must obtain approval from their thesis advisor, who will meet with the student and grade work.

As part of this research credit, both capstone and honors students must submit a one-page outline of their research to the DUS. The outline should include:

  • frequency of meetings with advisors
  • writing to be submitted as part of the semester’s grade
  • deadlines for writing submissions

Review details and submit your prospectus

Independent Study

Independent interdisciplinary study can be conducted under AMST 498/IDS 490 Supervised Reading and Study, if a student’s proposed research and study is interdisciplinary in nature, and if the student is able to find a faculty member willing to supervise and grade the proposed work and research. AMST 498/IDS 490 generally carries 3 credits and is taken for a letter grade.

Students interested in setting up independent study should begin by meeting with the DUS of the ILA. The meeting with the DUS is generally followed by subsequent meetings with the proposed faculty supervisor. Advance planning is necessary so that all these discussions can happen in time to make the needed arrangements for the class in OPUS.

The following guidelines should be followed as far as possible:

  • The student and faculty supervisor should discuss contact hours and the role of the faculty supervisor before the student prepares a one- to two-page prospectus of the independent study
  • A prospectus of the independent study must be submitted to the DUS in the ILA, with approval from the faculty supervisor, before a section can be created on OPUS for the research credit.
  • The prospectus should explicitly describe the following:
    • The general research questions to be addressed across the semester of independent study
    • The authors and works to be read across the semester of independent study
    • The general amount and number of hours of reading per week
    • The general plan for meetings between the student and the faculty supervisor –e.g. bi-weekly, every three weeks, etc. (Note: meetings and time devoted to readings should roughly reflect the number of credits earned for the independent study)
    • The written work to be produced by the student during the semester—number of written assignments, number of pages of each assignment, due dates, etc.

All AMST and IDS majors are required to complete a senior project in the form of a capstone or honors thesis.

The thesis synthesizes a student's course of study. It demonstrates a student's ability to:

  • organize complex ideas
  • carry out sustained research with close faculty consultation
  • use the skills and research launched in their course of study

The default is Chicago style, unless indicated by advisor.

The student is responsible for scheduling draft due-dates with their thesis advisor.


In the spring of their senior year, students submit their capstone for review and final grading by their ILA advisor. The length of the capstone is variable, between 30-50 pages. Capstone theses do not require an oral defense.

All non-honors AMST/IDS seniors submit their capstone thesis online using the webform. It is routed to their advisors for review.

Submit your capstone

Honors Thesis

If a student meets the requirements set by the College Honors Program (CHP), the AMST/IDS senior thesis can count as an honors thesis. The length of the honors thesis is variable but must meet the 50-page minimum.

Honors candidates must orally defend their thesis in the spring of their senior year. The final draft of their honors thesis is due to their committee at least 10 days before their oral defense.

Review details and timeline for honors