(Photo credit source: Ella Zhang)
Compared to other universities, NYU Shanghai does not have many majors due to its volume. Students at NYU Shanghai have 18 choices of listed majors. To provide students with more choices, they are able to declare a self-designed honor major, SDHM, which enables them to pursue a plan of interdisciplinary study from more than one NYU department or program. (I intended to make a citation, it’s the same link as the one below)Traditional majors at NYU Shanghai cover enough fields for most students to pursue their interest areas of study. However, if the traditional major can not meet the requirements and interests of a student, they can apply for SDHMs.
Students pursuing this major must meet different standards compared to students who pursue one of the existing majors. To be eligible, a student must achieve a GPA of at least 3.75 in sophomore year and maintain it above 3.65, which is exacting. SDHM is meant to be offered to capable and highly motivated students. Students must also maintain a good academic status standing, meaning they are not on probation, suspension, or leave of absence.
Students can find the process of application on the NYU Shanghai Major page https://shanghai.nyu.edu/academics/majors. A research proposal of around eight pages, a biography, transcript, resume and a recommendation letter from a professor are required to apply. There are two types of proposals with precise guidelines for students to choose. Students wishing to work in the Arts and Creative Humanities, should follow the guidelines of Type II proposals. Type1 proposal is appropriate for the rest of the applicants. Students can get the guidelines from the Self-Designed Honor Major(SDHM) page under the NYUSH Major page of which the link is above. In the research proposal, students lay out their reasons for choosing self-designed majors, and research designs they will implement for their future study in order to graduate.
The self-designed major is flexible because students follow their research proposal instead of the traditional rubric. They present their own four year plan at the academic fair. For accountability, students reach out to faculty advisors for academic support in planning research and studies. Professors also serve as faculty advisors and students can follow their courses that meet the criteria, which varies depending on the specific requirements for graduation with SDHM, including advanced research courses and advanced elective courses. If students’ SDHM is interdisciplinary, they work with two professors in different fields, taking courses and conducting research with both. If the professors do not teach courses that fit the students, they can conduct independent research, discuss with the professors and faculties to find alternative courses, or take courses at other sites of the NYU network.
Students can also choose self-designed tracks or majors that were set up by previous students. The Social Science department has emphasized on developing a self-designed track of urban study and making it an official track.
Students of self-designed majors are encouraged to take independent studies more because students are able to design independent research to fit their areas of study more than taking regular courses. Studying in their field of interests, they are expected to apply knowledge and skills from one field to conduct research and studies in another.
Declaring a self-designed major is demanding yet flexible. It provides students with more opportunities to pursue a personal study preference with adequate support from school networks and facilities.