You have big plans for your future and are excited to develop skills that will serve you well in your career. However, what if you struggle to find a college major that aligns with your unique goals? You could make do with existing options or even add a minor you find relevant, but consider this: a design-your-own degree program.

Today's self-designed majors provide a unique blend of structure, flexibility, and engagement. No matter your reason for developing your own degree program, this customized approach allows you to leverage the best of many different courses and disciplines.

Not sure if the self-designed approach is right for you? You can benefit from this strategy if you know how customized programs work and which situations call for this kind of setup.

We've compiled a detailed guide to the design-your-own degree format. Keep reading to learn how individualized degrees work and what can be gained through personalized learning experiences.

1. Tailored Education to Match Career Goals

College majors take several forms that cover a broad spectrum of topics, fields, and philosophies. With so many options available, it's tempting to assume that there is something for everyone. Some students find that the the programs that look ideal at face value ultimately fall short.

If you've encountered this problem, you may have noticed that various majors initially sound great. But when you dive into details and examine the required coursework, you feel disappointed or simply less engaged. When not addressed, this problem can lead to the phenomenon of major hopping—changing your major every time you feel dissatisfied, thereby hindering your progress toward graduation.

While there is certainly value in exploring a wide range of topics, there may be significant gaps in areas that you would like to study. These gaps may not be merely inconvenient: they may actively hold you back as you make the transition into the professional world.

There's no need to shy away from passion projects or career objectives you hold dear. Creating a self-designed major allows you to tailor your education with classes and experiences that prepare you for a successful career in your chosen field.

2. Gaining a Competitive Edge in the Job Market

Today's competitive job market calls for more than mere credentials. A number of employers cite a strong preference for baccalaureate-educated job candidates, but they also demand a wide assortment of soft and technical skills that demonstrate both competence and potential. Graduates who fail to gain these skills may struggle to score top jobs or may find the transition into the workforce challenging.

The solution? Seeking a career-focused education that emphasizes skill development. Some students choose a self-designed major because it allows them to pick courses and experiences that directly support their career goals, unlike conventional majors or minors.

The major itself may also appeal to a growing subset of employers who may view self-designed programs as indicative of a graduate's passion for their field. A report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities reveals that employers value interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, which can be verified by credentials such as a multidisciplinary studies degree.

A design-your-own degree shows initiative by letting students choose their own courses rather than following a typical major, ensuring their choices align with their goals. Employers appreciate the lengths to which multidisciplinary students are willing to go in pursuit of career-driven knowledge.

3. Developing a Diverse Skill Set

We've highlighted the value of skill development from a professional perspective, but this is also important on a personal basis. The wide range of skills developed through a customized degree program can lead to positive outcomes in many areas of life. These skills could run the gamut from technical abilities to soft skills or even leadership and organization development.

Diverse skills matter, but the act of exposing yourself to unfamiliar concepts is just as crucial. Not only will you learn skills, you will gain confidence and the simple joy of learning something new and unexpected.

Learning becomes more meaningful when you choose your own courses. This self-directed effort leads to a stronger sense of ownership over your new skills and knowledge.

4. Networking Opportunities in Multiple Fields

College programs can provide powerful networking opportunities, but some students find themselves struggling to branch out and build connections beyond the scope of their targeted programs. While there is value in working closely with like-minded students, the true power of networking can only be realized upon developing a variety of professional relationships.

These relationships may be easier to build within the context of multidisciplinary studies. Instead of taking the same set of classes with a few select students, you will continually be exposed to people from all walks of life. Should you make the effort to interact with your instructors and fellow students, you will be amazed by the breadth of perspectives you discover.

Invest in these relationships, and you will find that they pay dividends over time. You never know where your next big job opportunity could exist or which of your contacts can lead you in the right direction.

5. Enhanced Learning Experience

Multidisciplinary studies encourage both depth and breadth of learning. This is your chance to explore several subjects, fields, or concepts on your own terms, and to take a deep dive into the areas you find most compelling or relevant. This makes the learning process a lot more enjoyable. You will actively look forward to study sessions when you can take a deeper dive into fascinating topics.

The varied nature of multidisciplinary studies contributes to this enhanced experience. Any topic, no matter how personally compelling, can begin to feel stale when that's all you ever explore. As you expand your horizons, you will come to look forward to discovering new concepts and applying recently developed skills in different settings or situations.

6. Increased Adaptability to Future Trends

Today's dynamic job market calls for maximum flexibility. The fields and positions that are most in demand now may be less relevant in a few short years. Similarly, the most impactful jobs of tomorrow may not yet exist.

When there are no guarantees, you need to be capable of changing your path at a moment's notice. This is easier when you've made a concerted effort to become a flexible learner and especially when you've grown comfortable with novelty.

Multidisciplinary students are adaptable by nature and are not afraid to dive into new topics or perspectives. This agile mindset will be in high demand in years to come, so why not develop it now? Along the way, you will also acquire a wide array of skills that you can leverage as needed in the future.

7. Opportunity for Interdisciplinary Innovation

Interdisciplinary research underscores several of the most impressive innovations of the last few decades. It can be difficult to predict which seemingly disparate concepts will join forces to create something unique and powerful. Under a multidisciplinary approach, you will actively seek to bridge various subjects, allowing divergent tools, technologies, and concepts to converge in creative ways.

This effect is sometimes referred to as an "organized surprise." The goal is to actively expose yourself to perspectives and concepts. This can be synthesized personally and shared in cross-functional environments to spark innovation when and where it's least expected.

8. Personal Growth and Confidence

Career goals are essential, but personal growth also matters. For many students, the decision to pursue a self-designed major may come down to the sheer love of learning: students who gravitate toward multidisciplinary studies enjoy the academic journey.

With personal growth comes an abundance of confidence. There is something gratifying about knowing that you've put in the work to create your own degree and that you've developed a sizable network and a comprehensive skill set along the way unique to you.

Learn More Today

Do you have big dreams for your future and a desire to pursue higher learning in your own unique way? Look to the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) for exciting opportunities that promote passion-driven learning and a career-focused education.

By pursuing a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies or the Inter-College Program, you can align your coursework with your professional ambitions and personal interests. The Multidisciplinary Studies major is geared toward people with a gap in their education who would like to complete their undergraduate degree by taking courses from different departments. The Inter-College Program, which does not require a gap in education, is ideal for students who want to go beyond a prescribed curriculum and design a degree that meets their goals.

Feel free to contact us and learn more about these opportunities.


  • AACU, The Career-Ready Graduate: What Employers Say about the Difference College Makes
  • Inside Higher Ed, Survey Finds Employer Confidence in College Grads