Institute for Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies

Individually-Designed Interdisciplinary Program (IDIP)

Rachel Freedman Creates Her Own Major To Study Global Activism and Advocacy

Rachel Freedman develops a deeper understanding of how social structures evolved after creating her own major in global activism and advocacy. (Filmed and edited by Emerson students.)

Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Program (IDIP)

At Emerson College, students are encouraged to follow their interests and goals—wherever they may lead. Even with the multitude of arts and communications majors and minors from which to choose, students occasionally have a vision that cannot be adequately realized within these offerings. The Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Studies Program (IDIP) allows students to design their own major by combining courses from two or more departments, or a department and the Institute, around an anchoring concept or theme.

Students designing their own majors have the opportunity to create an advising team of two faculty members from different academic departments or the Institute that will help shape their program of study and provide support and guidance through to graduation. Examples of past IDIP foci include:

  • Global Activism and Advocacy;
  • Media Production and Management;
  • Effective Marketing through Digital Media Design;
  • Politics, Performance and Social Advocacy;
  • Investigative Theater for Social Change.

This exciting program offered through the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies provides a home for students who desire to create a unique and dynamic space for their academic and career goals.


An individually designed interdisciplinary program (IDIP) is a major program of study in a well-defined area of interest consisting of courses from two or more academic departments (including the Institute). Students design an IDIP in consultation with faculty members from the different department(s)/Institute where the coursework is based. Prerequisites for coursework, as determined in consultation with faculty advisors, should be included in the program of study. The program of study should total a minimum of 44 and a maximum of 56 credits.

Eligibility & Deadlines

A student is eligible to pursue an IDIP if:

1.  The cumulative GPA at the time of application is 3.0 or higher.

2.  The program needs cannot be met within the major of a single Department.

3.  The IDIP application is submitted no later than the second semester of the sophomore year.

     * Students may request special consideration for a petition to be considered during the junior year. In no case will a petition be considered during the student’s senior year.

The deadline for applications is October 15th (Fall semester) and February 15th (Spring semester).

Application Form


1.  Schedule an appointment with Amy Ansell, Institute IDIP Advisor ( to be briefed on the program and receive guidance on who to contact for step #2 (below).

2.  Meet with the Chairs of the relevant Department(s)/Institute who will recommend a faculty advisor for the proposed program of study. IDIP advisors should be full-time faculty members.

3.  Meet with faculty advisors in both Department(s)/Institute to discuss the proposed program of study. Come prepared with a draft application form so that you can together review: 1) overall concept, 2) draft of your course plan setting out the proposed courses and timetable for your IDIP (courses should be sensibly sequenced and should reflect balance of theory and practice), and 3) course prerequisites.

4.  Complete signature form.

5.  Submit the completed proposal, including the proposal checklist, to Colleen Heffernan, Program Manager ( on or before the deadlines above.

Program Changes

Like other major programs, the IDIP represents a curriculum plan that must be followed in all of its specifics in order for a student to graduate.  In cases where an IDIP has been approved and a student encounters problems obtaining a recommended course or courses, specific changes to the program may be approved provided that the substituted course(s) meet(s) the intent of the original IDIP. In such cases, the student must submit a written request, including an explanation of the reasons for the change(s), to Amy Ansell (

Requests for changes must also include signatures of approval from the student’s faculty advisors. Minor changes that are consistent with the original program design may be approved by the IDIP coordinator. Changes that substantially alter the structure of a student’s overall program will be submitted to the Interdisciplinary Committee for review and approval. This Committee may, at its discretion, request further information concerning the impact of changes upon a student’s program before considering the request for approval.


Class registration for IDIP students follows the same process as all other majors. If a class is restricted to a certain program and that class is part of the approved IDIP requirements, IDIP students are given equal access during registration, with the exception of Performing Arts courses.  Students seeking an IDIP within Performing Arts should be advised that many Performing Arts courses require instructor approval, pre-requisites and/or major restrictions.  Students must make the necessary requests for permission prior to registration adhering to instructions on the registrar's website.  Note that the Department of Performing Arts does not typically waive pre-requisites and/or major restrictions and those permissions are granted by request and at the sole discretion of the Chair. Any questions should be addressed to

“I found myself stuck between two very different majors and knew I would need both to embark on a very specific career path. My IDIP allows me to learn not only the nuances of making great films, but also how to bring them to the masses.”

Carly Cazer