University of Maryland Individual Studies Program

Tips for Writing the Proposal

When writing the proposal, you should include the following sections. You are welcome to consult Sample Proposals as examples for writing the various sections. The IVSP staff will happily help you throughout the process of writing your proposals; consult us with questions, drafts, ideas. We will help you clarify your thoughts and enhance your proposal for presentation before the Faculty Review Board.  Your Faculty Mentor too will have valuable feedback on your proposal.

Your Major Defined

Manka and her poster about her majorAlthough this is placed as the second written section in the proposal, this is a good place to begin. It is the most critical part of the proposal because it demonstrates the academic merits of your major. It is specifically about your major, so the third person point of view is appropriate. Think of yourself as proposing a new major to the university. This section is generally 2-4 pages in length. "Your Major Defined" has two parts:

1. You might begin with a paragraph that defines your major in its entirety.  It should offer a clear statement of the core academic purpose for your major. Tip: Remember that your major is an academic field--not just something that will help you get or succeed in a job!

2. Then describe how your major breaks down into its three or more concentrations.  Each description should include the themes and topics that are important to each concentration.  You should also relate each concentration to the goals and ideas of the major as a whole. Do not just offer a course-by-course rationale. Tip: If you are stuck, try writing out each course's main theme or the topic/reason that you included the course in your curriculum. You can generalize from these ideas to write a description of each concentration.


Your introduction may include experiences that sparked your passion for this subject area, the academic history that led you to an IVSP major, and/or the general rationale for designing your own major (instead of pursuing one or even two majors already offered by the University of Maryland). This section should be about 1-2 pages and is written in the first-person point of view.

Learning Objectives & Future Goals

In this section, you explain what you hope to do in the major and how it will assist you in the future. You may include ideas for professional careers, possible graduate schools, internships, and study abroad opportunities.  It should also include a well-thought out proposal for a Senior Capstone Project.  This section should be 1-2 pages in length and is written in the first-person point of view. Tips for describing the Senior Capstone: this should include information such as what you will study, a justification for the project or paper, an explanation of how it represents a culmination of your IVSP major, the format for the final product, and resources you intend to use for research. Your mentor and the IVSP office can help you to flesh out your ideas.

The Final Proposal

Once you have finished writing, the final proposal should be offered in the order below.  Use the attached templates for the course lists.

    1. Cover page- Your major's title, your personal contact information and UID, and your mentor's campus contact information.
    2. Introduction
    3. Your Major Defined
    4. Learning Objectives and Future Goals
    5. Coursework by Concentration- This is the list of the required courses for your major.  The list of courses must include at least 27 credits of upper-division major coursework (300 & 400 level) beyond the IVSP courses: IVSP317, IVSP318, and IVSP420.  This list of courses must include at least one writing-craft course, in addition to the Core Fundamental Studies or General Education Introduction to Writing and Professional Writing requirements, selected from an approved list that is available from IVSP staff.
    6. CORE Coursework or General Education Coursework- Show us how you have completed each of the CORE or General Education  requirements and which requirements you still need to fulfill.  Courses may be listed as both major courses and as CORE or General Education; they are not mutually exclusive.
    7. Coursework by Semester- This is a semester-by-semester plan for the completion of your undergraduate degree within a reasonable period of time.  Remember to include all remaining classes for your major and CORE/General Education Requirements.
    8. IVSP Course List- This list provides the IVSP office with a quick summary of the courses you plan to count towards your IVSP major.

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Individual Studies Program  Campus Location: 2407 Marie Mount Hall
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IVSP is a degree granting academic program of the Office of Undergraduate Studies