Create your own path

At Hobart and William Smith, you have the freedom to create an individual major spanning several disciplines and tailored to your interests. With the guidance of a faculty sponsor, you can propose and embark on a custom program of study. The Individual Major is a special experience allowing you to apply courses from across the HWS curriculum to a thematic major routed in the liberal arts. 


Student SpotlightJoe McCoy '24

"The Individual Major program has offered me the chance to work closely with various people in service-learning positions and complete research projects to learn more about child development and the education system. I created my Child Advocacy & Inclusion Studies major to find ways to build inclusive environments in education settings and other social settings worldwide. The studies of child development, educational practice, and administrative services fascinate me and leaves me with questions that need more attention."

recent individual majors

Some recent Individual Majors include:

  • Inequality and Social Policy
  • Environmental Law Enforcement 
  • Rhetoric and Leadership
  • Movement Science
  • Sports in Society 
  • Chinese and Mandarin Speaking World
  • The Holocaust, Colonialism, and Ethics
  • Bioethics
  • Diversity in the Workplace 
  • Science Journalism 
  • Refugee Studies: Mobility, Displacement & Refugee Status
  • Mythology and Folklore



And Research

Individual Major students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in a chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Molly S. Dexter ‘22: Individual Major, Critical Health Studies: HIV/AIDS and SARS-CoV-2: A Comparative Study of Public Health Responses in Four Nations
    Derek S. Linton, Professor of History, Adviser 
  • Wren Grace Andrews ‘21: Individual Major, Art and Social Change: Formal Questions: Artistic and Ethical Considerations in Art with Intended Social Purpose
    Kathryn Cowles, Associate Professor of English, Adviser

  • Liam John Cranley ‘21: Attempts to Preserve Identity Over the Centuries: A Story of Music and Nationalist German Identity
    Eric Klaus, Professor of German Area Studies, Adviser 

Experiential EducationOwn Your Learning

Attend lectures on policing hosted by the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice or work with local scientists at the Finger Lakes Institute.

At Hobart and William Smith, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.


No Borders:Global Education

While your individual major may be unique, you can study abroad by taking courses in a variety of subjects across the world. You might study social justice in Hong Kong, sports literature in England or food biology in Rome.

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.



Belonging, Equity and Diversity

Individual majors often include fields of study relating to belonging, equity and diversity. Past majors include Mobility Justice, Equity and Education, Indigenous Studies, Politics of Race, Race, Gender and Identity and Social Justice.


Alum Impact

Canieshia Phillips '19, MAT '20 Sixth-Grade science teacher at 'beginning with children'

Majors: Writing and Rhetoric; Child Development and Advocacy 

"My decision to create my own major, Child Development and Advocacy, was not a hard one. I wanted the flexibility of deciding which classes work best to meet the needs of my intended major. I was able to apply a wide range of classes across different disciplines and departments which allowed me to explore a variety of issues facing children."

Companies That Employ Our graduates

  • Aerotek
  • AmeriCorps
  • Altamira Fine Art
  • Donna Frech School of Dance
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • Geneva Human Rights Commission
  • Institute of Human Virology
  • Lynchburg College
  • Massachusetts Campus Compact
  • Multiple Impressions
  • Palazzo Interiors
  • Rochester Credit Bureau
  • University of Rochester Medical Center
  • University of Vermont 

universities where our graduates are studying

  • American University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Millersville University
  • Simmons University 
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Syracuse University
  • Union College
  • University of Rochester