Mar 05, 2024  
2013-2015 Catalog 
2013-2015 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The Special Design Major

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The Special Design Major allows students whose particular interests, background, or professional objectives are not served by a traditional bachelors degree programs offered at Saint Augustine’s University. The purpose of the Special Design Major is to make available to students who satisfy the prerequisites for the program the opportunity to design, with faculty approval, a flexible interdisciplinary curriculum. Admission to the Special Design Major is limited to students whose individualized programs can be organized around a special topic or a cross-disciplinary inquiry that is original and involves work in more than one department.

The Special Design Major is not intended to bypass normal graduation requirements and may not be used to duplicate formally structured degree programs at Saint Augustine’s University. It is reserved for students who cannot find an established degree program that meets their special interests and career goals that cross disciplinary lines. Students will be able to take courses in disciplines not offered at Saint Augustine’s University through the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges Consortium (CRC).

Prerequisites to Application

A grade point average of 3.0 or higher upon completion of at least half of your GE requirements during the freshmen year.

Criteria for Special Design Major

For a course of study to be considered appropriate for a Special Design Major, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. It must consist of a minimum of 60 credits of course work in two or more disciplines. A Special Design Major must be truly interdisciplinary. It may not be an individually fashioned degree in any single existing discipline.
  2. It must be integrated-meaning the course work must be coherent with respect to the program’s topic.
  3. The course work should consist of an adequate and appropriate distribution of courses in the disciplines involved in the program.

The guidelines that appear below have been developed to assure that these criteria are met and to assist you through the regulations and procedures that pertain to the Special Design Major housed within the Department of Liberal Studies.

Regulations and Procedures in Brief

In order to be accepted as a Special Design Major, students must do the following:

Step 1. Consult with the Department Chair of Liberal Studies who will serve as coordinator and assist -students with the formation of an Interdisciplinary Academic Advisory Committee (IAAC).

Step 2. In consultation with the student’s IAAC, one should complete the application for Special Design Major Liberal Studies Program.

Step 3. Submit the application for review.

Step 4. If the application is approved, the student may register as a Special Design Major.

Regulations and Procedures in Full

STEP 1. Consult with the Department Chair/ Special Design Major Coordinator

  1. Before developing an application, a student must consult with the Chair of Liberal Studies who serves as coordinator of special design majors to explore individual ideas for a course of study. At this meeting, the chair will discuss with the student the feasibility of carrying out the individualized program and explain the application process. The Chair will also help the student identify a faculty advisor from each of the two departments in the special program to serve on the student’s Interdisciplinary Academic Advisory Committee.
  2. Very early in the advising process, it must be determined if Saint Augustine’s University and/or Cooperating Raleigh College Consortium (CRC) have the courses necessary to constitute a program in the subjects the student wishes to pursue. By the second meeting with the Chair, the student should have become familiar with the current SAU Catalog as well as CRC catalogs for courses not offered at Saint Augustine’s University and compiled a list of courses from which a coherent course of study might be fashioned.

If the Chair has determined that the student’s idea for a Special Design Major is appropriate for the degree program and the student meets the Program’s academic criteria, then he/she is position to take the next steps:

STEP 2. Form an Academic Advisory Committee

  1. Depending on the student’s areas of study, two or three faculty members, one from each discipline in which the student wishes to take courses, must agree to constitute your Interdisciplinary Academic Advisory Committee (hereafter: The Student’s Committee) and act as advisors for the individualized program of study. The members of your Committee must be from disciplines found on your course list. The Committee has three main functions:
    1. To recommend courses appropriate to the program;
    2. To advise the student on any other matters pertaining to the program, such as College regulations or the career or academic potential for such a program;
    3. To evaluate the Senior Project.

Once the student has formed a committee, it is his/her responsibility to plan with its members a coherent, original, and feasible course of study.

  1. CHAIRPERSON OF THE INTERDISCIPLINARY ACADEMIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE. One of the members of the committee must agree to be the Committee - and to advise the student on his/her major course of study, TEP, CRC enrollment and all other graduation requirements. In addition to the responsibilities mentioned above, the Chair has several special duties:
    1. To advise the student on his/her course of study as a whole;
    2. To advise the student in the writing of the proposal and application;
    3. Once the proposal is accepted, to act as the regular advisor concerning the student’s course of study and all other graduation requirements.
    4. To oversee and assist you with the Senior Project.
  2. The Chair of the committee must be a full-time, tenured or tenure-track member of the Saint Augustine’s University faculty. The student should ascertain from a potential Chair whether he or she will be available during the period in which he/she will be working on the degree. If the Chair plans to be away for part of this time, as for instance on a Sabbatical, the student is to plan with the Chair well in advance for someone to take his or her place, or consider another faculty member to fill this important role.
  3. CONSULTATION OF THE CHAIR OF LIBERAL STUDIES WITH THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON. Early in the student’s application process, the Liberal Studies Chair will contact the Chair of the student’s Committee to discuss his or her responsibilities and answer any questions he or she may have concerning procedures.

STEP 3. Complete an Application

  1. In consultation with the Chair and the committee, the student must complete an application. The requirements for the application appear below in these guidelines.-When the application is completed and approved by the committee/advisers, it should be submit it to the Chair/SDM Coordinator by the application deadline.

STEP 4. Submit Your Application for Review

  1. APPLICATION DEADLINES. There are three deadlines each semester for filing an application for a Special Design Major. Each semester’s deadlines are posted outside the door to the Liberal Studies Office. Students are urged to submit the application by the first or second deadlines, so that if revisions are required, the application can still be acted on during the semester it was submitted.
  2. THE STUDENT’S FILE. Upon receipt of the completed application by the Liberal Studies Chair, a file is established in the Chair’s office and/or designated location. The file will contain, in addition to the application, a copy of all necessary documents, such as memos, petitions, letters, and grade reports, which are related to the individualized degree program.
  3. THE REVIEW PROCESS. Filing an application with the Liberal Studies Chair does not constitute or assure acceptance in the Special Design Major program. Each proposal must be reviewed by the Liberal Studies Committee. After a program is reviewed, the Committee conveys its recommendation to the student through the Liberal Studies Chair. The Committee may recommend approval or conditional approval of the application, may request that the application be reworked and resubmitted, or may reject the application. Applications approved by the Committee must then be approved by the Dean of Liberal Arts and Education, the Curriculum Council Committee and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. If the application is approved at all levels of review, the student may register as a Special Design Major.
  4. ATTENDING THE REVIEW. The Chair of the faculty committee may attend to the Liberal Studies Committee meeting at which the application is reviewed. Information regarding the date, time and place of the Committee meetings can be obtained from the Liberal Studies Office.

STEP 5. Register as a Special Design Major

  1. Immediately upon approval of the special program, the student should file a Change of Major Form with the Registrar’s Office. The petition must be signed by the Chair of Liberal Studies and by the department chair of the student’s former major/academic advisor.
  2. DISTRIBUTION OF THE APPROVED PROGRAM. Upon approval of the proposal for a Special Design Major, the Liberal Studies Chair provides the student and his/her advisors, the Dean of Liberal Arts and Education, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs with a copy of the approved program of study. A copy is also kept in the student’s file in the Liberal Studies office and/or designated location.

Other Regulations

  1. CHANGES IN THE MAJOR. Once the proposal is approved, any changes in the curriculum must be approved by the Liberal Studies Chair and the Chair of the student’s Advisory Committee. All changes are made through a letter of explanation that is signed by the Advisory Committee Chair and the Liberal Studies Chair and is placed in the file in the Liberal Studies Office. If the changes substantially alter the focus of the approved program, they must also be approved by the Liberal Studies Committee.
  2. ACADEMIC ADVISING. At the end of each semester, the student should be advised by the Chair of his/her Committee concerning the schedule for the next semester and - progress on TEP and other graduation requirements. The Liberal Studies Chair is also available for advising.

Expectations of the Interdisciplinary Academic Advisory Committee-

In its consideration of the students application for the Special Design Major, the IAAC will look for evidence of the students ability to pursue a self-designed program to completion and of the student’s awareness to his/her major and other graduation requirements. The Committee will look for such evidence, not only in the rationale, but in the following areas:

1. GPA- The GPA required for admission to the Special Design Major is 3.0. Exceptions to this requirement may be made at the discretion of the Liberal Studies Chair, and approval of the Dean of Liberal Arts and Education, and Provost. A student may be asked to submit a letter of recommendation and other supporting material, such as mid-semester evaluations, to support for the individualized proposal.

2. General Education or TEP- At the time the student applies for a Special Design Major, he/she should have completed at least half of the GE or TEP requirements.

3. TOTAL NUMBER OF UNITS COMPLETED TOWARD GRADUATION- Ideally, a student should begin the Special Design Major early enough in his/her academic career in order to graduate without an excess of credits, i.e., without more than the 124 units required for graduation. A higher number of credits completed at the time of application does not disqualify one from the Special Design Major but the inclusion into individual’s proposal of courses already completed will be examined closely to ensure the relevance of such courses to the focus of his/her Special Design Major.

4. NUMBER OF MAJOR CREDITS IN YOUR PROPOSAL- The total number of major credit hours may range from 60 to 72. The courses for the major are divided into Core Courses and Supporting Courses. At least twenty-four (24) credits in the Core Courses are to be Upper Division units (300 and above unless otherwise approved). The number of Upper Division units in the Supporting Courses must be sufficient to fulfill the goals of the proposal.

5. UNIQUENESS OF YOUR MAJOR- Students must make clear in their proposal why a Special Design Major is required, and why a Bachelor’s degree in an existing major, a double major, or a major and a minor would not fulfill one’s academic goals.

THE IDEAL TIME TO BEGIN A SPECIAL DESIGN MAJOR- Given the factors discussed above, the ideal time for you to start a Special Design Major is no later than the beginning of the second semester of the sophomore year. Students will have had the opportunity to prove himself or herself academically and to develop the study habits that will help one succeed with a Special Design Major.

Skills and Performance Courses in the Special Design Major

The Departments of Visual and Performing Arts, Film and Interactive Media, Theatre, Journalism and Mass Communication have a large number of courses devoted to the development of skills. These skills include painting, film-making, writing, directing, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, and many more. Although such skills are an important part of a major in the creative arts, and although they are not to be excluded from the Special Design Major, the focus of the special design program must be on ideas appropriate to the academic tradition. Proposals that emphasize performance at the expense of intellectual content are not considered suitable for the Special Design Major.

The Application

The application -must contain the following information:

I. The student’s name and the title of his/her major (see the application cover sheet). Note: Only 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation marks, are allocated to the title of a major on a diploma. In developing a title for a Special Design major, one will want to choose one that does not exceed this limit.

II. A list of the core and supporting courses totaling at least 60 credit hours.


  1. No courses that is used to satisfy General Education requirements may included in the course list for the student’s Special Major. This does not apply to students that fall under the Transformative Education Process (TEP).
  2. No professional courses in the Education Department, with exceptions specified by the Department, may be included in the program of study.
  3. Only courses graded A-C may be applied toward major requirements.
    1. Core courses must consist of upper division courses (300/400 level) only.
      The Senior Paper or Senior Project/Thesis [HON 400 /HON 499  (3 units)] must be included in the Core courses.
    2. Supporting courses- may include lower division pre-requisite courses when appropriate.

III. The student’s signature, the signature of the SDM Coordinator and the names and signatures of the faculty advisors for the special designed major is required.

Statement of Purpose

IV. A written statement of purpose must accompany the application form. This essay is the rationale for the student’s program and is the most important part of the proposal; it is here that the student demonstrates that the program - developed is both interdisciplinary and of a content comparable to that of traditional academic programs of study. The rationale should be of no more than three double-spaced, typewritten pages in length.

It may be helpful for the student and committee to view the rationale as consisting of five components: A) a description of the basic idea of the program, B) a description of individual objectives and uses for the course of study, C) a description and justification of the courses on the course list, D) an overview of the Senior Project, and E) a justification of the program as a Special Design Major.

  1. The Basic Idea. The student’s program must have a focus that goes beyond that of a single discipline. The title of the program must express this interdisciplinary focus. Begin this essay by stating the subject of the program, showing how the proposed subject is appropriate as an interdisciplinary course of study and providing any information that would be helpful in understanding both the subject itself and the reasons for pursuing this study. The latter may include a description of the interests, experience, and training that provide the student with a background for the proposed program.
  2. Objectives and Uses. The rationale must contain a statement of the student’s objectives and uses for the course of study, i.e., the knowledge and skills one seeks from his/her program and how one intends to apply them. If - undertaking this study to enhance your academic or career opportunities, state this clearly.
  3. Courses. An interdisciplinary course of study requires the same substance and breadth found in an established Bachelor’s Degree program in a single subject in a Liberal Arts Institution. In addition, an interdisciplinary course of study has a coherence that a double major or a major and minor in different subjects does not have. In a double major, there is no necessity to integrate the areas of study. In the Special Major, the necessity to integrate the disciplines from which one has selected courses is at the heart of the program.
    Student should describe the courses in his/her course list from the standpoints of how they meet the standards described above and of what they contribute to the study of the subject of special program. Students should describe the relationship between the courses selected for the special program of study. The Committee will look for the student’s ability to demonstrate this relationship and to show how each course supports the purpose of the program. Student’s should list and explain supplementary courses that are not included in the List of Courses (Core and Supporting).
  4. Senior Project [HON 400 /HON 499  (3 units)]. The Special Major program must include a Senior Project. The topic of the Senior Project must be an obvious outcome of the stated goals and course work; it must bring together the various aspects of the special course of study. It may be a research paper or a creative project. It must be limited enough to accomplish within the given time and unit constraints. It must be included among the Core courses.

The Senior Project is to be prepared under the supervision of the faculty committee. It will be graded by the Committee and the student will describe your project orally to the IAA Committee at the completion of his/her senior year.

Data Collection from Human Subjects. If the Senior Project involves the collecting of data from human subjects, the student must be familiar with the regulations concerning human subjects and submit a form indicating details concerning venue, method of collection, etc. Approval for the collecting of such data must be given in writing by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before the student begins collection. Data collected before written authorization is obtained may not be used. For more information, contact the Liberal Studies Office.

  1. The justification for a Special Major. The Special Major must be unique; the student must show that it does not duplicate a program of study that can be pursued through a traditional department or program at Saint Augustine’s University. It is the student’s responsibility to consult the catalog to confirm that such programs do not exist.

Posthumous Degree Award


A Posthumous Degree is awarded to honor the deceased student and his/her family for their efforts to complete a degree from this institution of higher learning, Saint Augustine’s University.


The deceased student was enrolled at the time of death, demonstrated good academic standing with senior status. The deceased must have declared a major and completed at least one half of the requirements for the major that will be recorded on the degree.

The deceased student’s cause of death was not due to any unlawful activity.

Procedure and Authority

The appropriate degree may be awarded posthumously on the recommendation of the student’s academic department. The Dean must certify that the deceased student is in (1) good academic standing by the university registrar and (2) good social standing by the Vice President for Student Affairs. Then the Vice President for Academic Affairs/Chief Academic Officer shall approve the request at which time make a formal plea to the President for the award of Posthumous Degree.

Once approved, the Department Chair shall contact the deceased student’s family and invite them to the Commencement Ceremony in which the posthumous degree is awarded.

The Department Chair will arrange for a seat to remain empty with a cap and gown fashioned on it to honor the deceased student.

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