BDIC provides students the opportunity to design their own interdisiplinary courses of study. The tabs on this page provide a full description of the BDIC major. This information can also be downloaded as a 4-page PDF brochure.
The Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) program at the UMass Amherst offers highly motivated and self-directed students the opportunity to design their own major. As an alternative to traditional majors, the BDIC Program allows students to pursue their educational goals in areas not available within existing departmental curricula. With the help of a faculty Sponsor, students focus their major and select courses on the basis of a unifying issue, topic, theme, culture, period, or question called an area of concentration.
BDIC concentrations must be interdisciplinary, drawing from at least three fields or disciplines, and may not duplicate an existing major. Courses may be chosen from any of the departments within the University, and from the other campuses in the Five College Consortium. Internships and Independent Studies are strongly recommended for most majors. Students are also encouraged to participate in the Domestic and International exchange programs when relevant.
Each student's program of study is developed with the advice and approval of both the student's chosen faculty Sponsor and a BDIC faculty Supervisor. Each student is assigned to one of six academic clusters in BDIC - Arts and Cultural Studies; Business and Law; Civic Engagement and Public Health; Education and Human Services; Natural Science and Sustainability; Social Science. Each cluster has its own Supervisor. These areas are construed broadly and are not intended to limit the range of concentration areas available to BDIC majors.
If you are interested in BDIC, the first step is to visit program office in Goodell 607 and meet with a Peer Advisor. These are current BDIC majors, who can answer questions about the program and help you figure out whether BDIC is the right choice for you.
Once you've decided that you want to pursue BDIC, the next step is to apply for enrollment in BDIC's Proposal Writing Class (BDIC 396P). In order to apply you must have already completed, or currently be registered for, at least 15 credits of coursework and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. In addition to the application form, you must submit a transcript and a brief essay describing your intended area of concentration.
Admission is competitive and is decided by a faculty committee based on your academic qualifications and the suitability of your intended area of concentration for BDIC.
The 1-credit Proposal Writing Class is taught by BDIC staff and is offered each semester. This is where you will focus your educational goals, choose a faculty Sponsor and formulate the list of classes that will become your major. These elements form the core of your BDIC Proposal, which must then be approved by your Peer Advisor, Sponsor and BDIC Faculty Supervisor.
This may sound like an overly elaborate process. However, keep in mind that it results in an agreement that, if you carry out your proposed coursework, you will receive a UMass Bachelors Degree. The overlapping engagement of Peer Advisors, Sponsors and Faculty Supervisors in both helping you formulate your proposal and reviewing it ensures the academic integrity of the process.
The Application form may be picked up from the BDIC office in Goodell 607 or downloaded here.
The BDIC Proposal is a multi-part document that presents the content, motivation and background for your BDIC concentration as well as your choice for a faculty Sponsor. You write the proposal, with assistance from a Peer Advisor and BDIC Faculty Supervisor, during the Proposal Writing Class (BDIC 396P). In order to be accepted into the BDIC major, your proposal must be approved by your faculty Sponsor, Peer Advisor and BDIC Faculty Supervisor. A detailed description of the BDIC Proposal is available here.
You should expect that writing your proposal will take considerable time and effort, as well as imagination. The proposal is a rationale for your BDIC major and needs to address why your interests cannot be served by an existing major at the University. It will include a description of your academic background, career interests, academic goals, the courses you plan to take as a BDIC major, a rationale for the choice of courses, and justification for choice of a particular Sponsor.
Proposals usually go through many drafts. A Peer Advisor reads the proposal first and makes recommendations to the student for corrections, additions, or deletions. Once the Peer Advisor believes the proposal meets the minimal criteria, the student submits it to his or her faculty Sponsor. After the Faculty Sponsor has approved the proposal, it is read by a faculty Supervisor. The Supervisor may require further changes before giving it final approval.
The requirements for the BDIC major are as follows.
- Acceptance of a formal concentration proposal, consisting of a minimum of six pages. The proposal must be approved by a Peer Advisor, a facultyl Sponsor, and a BDIC Faculty Supervisor. The proposal is written during the course of the student's enrollment in the Proposal Writing Class (BDIC 396P), a one credit class.
- Completion of at least twelve related upper-division courses (numbered 300 or above) in the area of concentration, totaling a minimum of 36 credits over a period of at least four semesters. Each class must be completed with a minimum grade of C. Non-classroom experiences such as internships (up to a maximum of 6 and independent studies (up to a maximum of 6 credits) may be accepted as part of the interrelated curriculum, with approval from the Sponsor and the Supervisor. However, a student's BDIC Program may not consist of more than a total of 9 internship and independent study credits combined. Courses must be drawn from two or more departments each semester and should be at least three credits each. The student should be enrolled in three BDIC courses (a total of at least 9 credits) each semester except in the case of part-time students.
- Registration in BDIC 496C for three (3) graded credits. This course satisfies the University's Junior Year Writing Requirement for BDIC majors. Students may also complete the Junior Year Writing Requirement in another major. Commonwealth College students substitute the Honors project (Honors 499P), the thesis (Honors 499T), or one of the many other Honors courses that satisfy the writing requirement.
- Completion of a six-page Senior Summary and one-page Abstract during the final semester in BDIC.
- Completion of the foreign language requirement if the student's major concentration falls predominantly within the Colleges of Arts and Sciences (Colleges of Humanities and Fine Arts, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences). For further guidelines, see the Arts and Sciences section of the Undergraduate Catalog.
Note: Students should keep copies of all documentation submitted to the Program: Proposal and Senior Summary and Abstract.
All BDIC majors must pick a Faculty Sponsor to serve as their primary academic advisor. The Faculty Sponsor should be someone whose academic interests have a strong overlap with your educational and/or career goals. Often it is a professor who teaches a class or conducts research in your contration area. In addition to helping you select appropriate classes, your Faculty Sponsor is a potential supervisor for independent studies or research work and can offer guidance on graduate school and professional opportunities.
All BDIC Sponsors must be full time faculty with the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, or lecturer at the University of Massachusetts or one of the other Five Colleges. You choose your sponsor as part of preparing your BDIC Proposal, during the Proposal Writing Class (BDIC 396P). The class will include advice BDIC Peer Advisors on how to make a good choice and on how best to approach faculty members about acting as Sponsors. There is a list of current and recent Faculty Sponsors available as a resource at the BDIC office.
In addition to serving as an advisor, the Sponsor has certain formal responsibilities as well. They must read and approve your BDIC Proposal, as well as any changes that you make to it before graduation. They must sign-off on plans for any independent studies or practica you include in your concentration, and finally they must approve your BDIC Senior Summary.
The final graduation requirement for BDIC majors is to submit a Senior Summary for approval by their BDIC Faculty Supervisor. The core of the Senior Summary is a reflective essay that looks both back over your UMass career and forward towards your plans for the future.
- A full description of the Senior Summary requirement is available here.
- The template for the abstract and course list can be found here.
- The form for the Senior Summary cover page is available here.
Senior Summaries must be submitted by November 15th for February graduation, April 1st for May graduation and September 1st for October graduation.