Facebook Pixel Honors Self-Designed Studies (HSDS) | Western Kentucky University

Honors Self-Designed Studies (HSDS)

Honors Self-Designed Studies (HSDS) permit MHC scholars to design unique majors or minors that more precisely meet their specific professional goals and/or interdisciplinary interests than existing WKU programs.


What are the HSDS options?

Four options allow you to create the major or minor that best meets your educational and career goals:

Stand-alone major

  • 48 credits hours of coursework
  • At least 24 hours from one discipline
  • A Capstone Experience/Thesis Project (CE/T) as a component of the major

Proposal form for the Stand-alone major

Please note: e-signature forms cannot be properly filled out in a browser - please download the PDF file and complete it in either Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro.

First major, which can be combined with either a second major or a minor

  • 36 credits hours of coursework
  • At least 18 hours from one discipline
  • A Capstone Experience/Thesis Project (CE/T) as a component of the major

Proposal form for the First Major

Second major

  • 30 credits hours of coursework
  • At least 15 hours from one discipline
  • A Capstone Experience/Thesis Project (CE/T) connected to at least one of your majors

Proposal form for the second major


  • 24 credits hours of coursework
  • At least 12 hours must be from one discipline
  • A Capstone Experience/Thesis Project (CE/T) is required, connected to your major(s)

Proposal form for the Minor


What are the general requirements for Honors Self-Designed Studies?

  • Any proposed HSDS must be a major or minor WKU does not already have.
  • At least one-half of the hours in any HSDS major or minor must be upper-division (numbered 300 or above).
  • No more than six hours of courses used to satisfy Colonnade requirements may be used in the HSDS major or minor.
  • The HSDS must include honors coursework, either through dedicated honors courses, or Honors Augmentation Contracts (HACs)
  • In accordance with WKU degree requirements, any two separate academic degree programs must total a minimum of 54 credit hours and have at least 48 non-duplicated credit hours.
  • Students completing an HSDS major or minor must complete all other requirements of the Mahurin Honors College.
  • Students must meet with an MHC advisor and their HSDS faculty sponsor every semester and provide and update on progress.


Examples of current and past HSDS majors include:


A combination of agribusiness and hospitality management courses, this major is preparing the designer to learn the logistics of an agritourism business while providing premium guests services.

Critical Zone Science

Critical Zone Science studies all pieces of an environment at once, which requires a broad understanding of natural processes in climate science, biology, geology, meteorology, physics and chemistry. The major is preparing the designer for graduate school in an increasingly interdisciplinary field.

Semantics-Based Computational Linguistics

With a focus on the analytical side of linguistics, both generally and semantically, this major, when paired with a major in computer science, is preparing its designer to create programs that can understand and keep up with the fluidity of modern language.

Sustainable Agriculture

At its core, agriculture is the combination of several branches of science (particularly biology, chemistry, geology and ecology) aiding in our understanding of how to cultivate plants and livestock. This major allowed the designer to gain a deeper understanding of agriculturally-related processed and agricultural practices through a sustainability-minded lens.

Digital Storytelling

This interdisciplinary major prepared its designer to compose and create effective media by understanding the theories and systems that make up the relationships between people and the media while exploring digitally composed rhetoric (such as documentary film, online design and multimedia advertising).  The coursework from Communication, Public Relations, Marketing and English allowed the designer to focus on the theory and art of informing, persuading and inspiring action in an audience through multimedia.

Community Arts

Based in participatory art, social practice, research, and community-based art, the major allowed its designer to catalyze meaningful social change for communities. Coursework combined performing arts, visual arts, craft practices, sociology, cultural practices, storytelling and narrative media to develop collaborative projects around real issues. 


How do I begin the process of creating an Honors Self-Designed Studies Major/Minor?

Choosing to create an HSDS major or minor is a highly personalized decision requiring you to carefully consider what educational options currently exist at WKU and your long-term academic and professional goals.

Step 1: Clearly understand and articulate your professional and personal goals.

Step 2: Refer to the Guide to Planning an HSDS Program to brainstorm, refine and, ultimately, design your major or minor.

Step 3:  Meet with your MHC academic advisor to discuss how the HSDS major/minor fits with the MHC curriculum, including the required CE/T project.

Step 4: Submit your HSDS Proposal, which includes:

  • A statement of 250 words describing how and why your academic, professional and intellectual goals are best achieved by an HSDS major/minor.
  • A program of study detailing each course that will be part of your HSDS major and the semester in which you plan to take each course and which courses will be taken for honors credit.
  • A list of three main learning outcomes that you will achieve through your HSDS major. These should focus on what the program of study will help you learn and understand, and how these outcomes are preparing you for the next stage of your academic, professional and intellectual journey.
  • Signature from a faculty sponsor who supports and approves your HSDS major and his/her department head.
  • Signature from the department head of any discipline making up 9 or more credits of the program.


Proposal Forms:

            Stand-alone Major

            First Major

            Second Major


            Self-Designed Course Sheet


What happens after I submit my proposal?

The Assistant Director for Academics of the MHC reviews all proposals within two weeks. You will be notified by email if your proposal is accepted as is, or if revisions are required.

Upon approval: Work with your MHC advisor to change your major on TopNet. Use your approved proposal for planning and registration.

Upon earning 75 credit hours in residence: Work with your MHC Advisor to submit the Honors Self-Designed Course Sheet. This form will direct the Registrar’s Office to create your program on iCAP.


Please note:

E-signature forms cannot be properly filled out in a browser - please download the PDF file and complete it in either Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro. Acrobat Reader can be downloaded for free from the Downloads link at the bottom of this page.

HSDS Questions?

E MyoE Myo Zin
Academic Advisor for CHHS and OCSE


Sara MoodyMorgan Flanagan
Academic Advisor for CEBS, GFCB, and PCAL



Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 11/17/23