Working closely with a faculty mentor, the student designs an academic program to achieve the goals of an Austin College education in the context of his or her own personal aspirations. An Austin College curriculum emphasizes both depth and breadth of study. It begins with a required freshman seminar course (Communication/Inquiry), which serves as the foundation for the Austin College education. The seminar aids students in their transition to college-level work and serves as an orientation to academic services and curricular opportunities. The instructor becomes the student’s academic advisor and faculty mentor. Faculty-student engagement established in the seminar initiates the conversation on how to use the Austin College curriculum to create the educational experience that enhances intellectual inquiry and critical thinking and leads to lifelong learning.
Before the end of their sophomore year, students declare a field to study in depth from the college’s list of more than 35 majors or alternatively, may create their own individualized major using the Special Program Option.
Students also must complete a minor (or second major) in another field with over 40 minors from which to choose. With proper planning students are able to integrate many of the course requirements of the Breadth Dimension into their major and minor, giving their overall education greater coherence. Through the Breadth Dimension students encounter the different methodologies used by the humanities, sciences, and social sciences but are not required to take specific courses. Instead, students may select courses from the full range of disciplinary fields to develop a program that complements their major and minor but still adds breadth.
Austin College values interdisciplinary studies and encourages its students to consider majoring or minoring in one of its many interdisciplinary programs. One of the purposes of a liberal education is to help students become aware of the interconnections among different branches (disciplines) of knowledge. To this end the college offers student-designed interdisciplinary degree programs (see the Special Program Option) and interdisciplinary and general studies courses. By integrating learning from several fields of knowledge, such study widens understanding and organizes new approaches to old problems. Many of these courses are appropriate for meeting the requirements of the Breadth Dimension.