The most critical factor we consider for the acceptance of a Center for Interdiscplinary Studies (CIS) major is the student-adviser(s) relationship. Prior coursework or other in-depth interaction by students with potential advisers is the norm for successful CIS majors.
Advisers commit to students largely on a first-come, first-served basis, and will generally not take more than two CIS advisees per year. As a result, you should meet with potential advisers early in your Davidson career (typically spring of your first year or fall of your sophomore year). While there is no GPA requirement, advisers 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 CIS 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 advisers 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–this is true even for center-established majors. Therefore, as a CIS major applicant, you must demonstrate to potential advisers your resourcefulness and creativity in managing your curriculum and capstone experience (thesis, project, or examination).
The interdisciplinary nature of CIS majors results in faculty, courses, and other academic resources being spread throughout the college. Our majors must be able to work independently without centralized administrative support that ensures adherence to approved curriculum. While our advisers, other faculty members, 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 experience, 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/examinations means that our majors must be especially strong in their ability to complete their work. Our advisers consistently point out that successful interdisciplinary majors are able to write and speak well. Because of the emphasis on the independent capstone experience, CIS majors often participate in professional conferences or other venues to share the results of their research.