The most critical factor we consider for the acceptance of a Center for Interdiscplinary Studies (CIS) major is the student-advisor(s) relationship. Prior coursework or other in-depth interaction by students with potential advisors is the norm for successful CIS majors. Advisors commit to students largely on a first-come, first-serve basis, and will generally not take more than two CIS advisees per year. As a result, you should meet with potential advisors early in your Davidson career (typically spring of your first-year or fall of your sophomore year). While there is no GPA requirement, advisors and the committee seek tangible demonstrations of your commitment to their academic pursuits, something that can be readily shown in prior coursework.
Because both center-established and student-designed majors are not managed by college departments or programs, required courses, laboratory resources, and faculty are not always available for you to complete a CIS major. Therefore, not all students who want to major through the center can be accepted. Our advisors and committee use the following criteria to determine the suitability of a CIS major applicant:
Because CIS majors are not standard, majors need to take greater control of establishing their curriculum and ensuring that required courses are available during their time at Davidson, even for center-established majors. Therefore, as a CIS major applicant, you must demonstrate to potential advisors your resourcefulness and creativity in managing your curriculum and capstone project.
The interdisciplinary nature of CIS majors results in faculty, courses, and other academic resources being scattered throughout the college. Our majors must be able to work independently without centralized administrative support that ensures adherence to approved curriculum. While our advisors, other faculty, and the CIS director are regularly available to meet with you, there may be times when the necessary expertise is not present. CIS majors must regularly ensure that courses, resources for capstone projects, and other requirements for the successful completion of their course of study are available when needed.
While this is a requirement for all students at Davidson College, the independent nature of CIS capstone projects/theses means that our majors must be especially strong in their ability to complete their work. Our advisors consistently point out that successful interdisciplinary majors are able to write and speak well. Because of the emphasis on the capstone project, CIS majors often participate in professional conferences or other venues to share the results of their research.