Individually Designed Major in Engineering

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  • Overseen by Prof Brad Osgood (Senior Associate Dean)
  • Student Services: Darlene Lazar, 135 Huang --

Note: Students proposing to pursue an IDMEN must have at least four quarters of undergraduate work remaining at Stanford after the quarter in which their proposals are submitted.

About the IDMEN Degree

Individually Designed Majors in Engineering (IDMENs) are intended for undergraduates interested in studying engineering in areas not covered by departmental majors or the pre-approved School of Engineering sub-plans. Each IDMEN curriculum is designed by the student in consultation with at least two faculty advisors. Each student’s primary academic advisor must be a member of the Stanford Academic Council, which means that Lecturers and Visiting Professors cannot fill this role. Students must also have a secondary advisor; this faculty member can be a member of a Stanford School other than Engineering and need not necessarily be a member of the Stanford Academic Council. The purpose of requiring a second advisor is to ensure that the student receives sufficient guidance about aspects of the proposed course of study that may lie outside the field of expertise of the primary advisor. The IDMEN degree is designated as a “Bachelor of Science in an Individually Designed Major in Engineering: Approved Title.” This degree program is not accredited by ABET (see section in UGHB on Accreditation for more information).For information on the IDMEN-BSH (Honors option), see the Honors page of this site.

To pursue an IDMEN, a student must submit a written proposal to the IDMEN Subcommittee of the Undergraduate Council detailing her or his proposed course of study; you may bring your proposal to 135 Huang. IDMEN programs must meet the general minimum requirements established for School of Engineering majors:

Exploring/Proposing an IDMEN-BS

Investigate: Start by investigating existing majors and gathering information from other students and faculty. Visit 135 Huang: Darlene Lazar can answer general questions and point you to a binder filled with proposals/plans from previously approved IDMENs (see list at end of page for sampling).
Find Advisors: Each IDMEN curriculum is designed in consultation with at least two faculty advisors. Serious applicants should schedule an appointment with Senior Associate Dean Brad Osgood to solicit feedback (email or see Darlene Lazar to set this up).
Solidify a Plan: Draw up a tentative major proposal with the help of your advisors, detailing your proposed course of study. IDMEN programs must meet the general minimum requirements established for School of Engineering majors:

  • 21 units of mathematics (see SoE Approved Courses page)
  • 17 units of science (see SoE Approved Courses page)
  • One course on Technology in Society(see SoE Approved Courses page)
  • 40 units of School of Engineering courses, at least three of which must be Engineering Fundamentals courses (see SoE Approved Courses page)
  • Additional courses to bring the total to at least 90 but not more than 107 units

Each proposal must contain the following four elements:

  1. Rationale. The proposal should begin with a carefully crafted statement that describes the major, characterizes the proposer’s motivation for pursuing it, justifies it intellectually, indicates the proposer’s ultimate goal and how the major relates to it, shows how the courses comprising its curriculum make sense given its purpose, and tells why this plan of study cannot be pursued in any existing School of Engineering major program. A proposed title for the major, the accepted version of which will be shown on the student’s diploma and transcript, should be included. Sample proposals are available for review in the Office of Student Affairs, 135 Huang.
  2. IDMEN program sheet. This form should be filled out completely including an indication of which course the student intends to take to fulfill the university’s Writing in the Major (WIM) requirement. The bottom of the second page of the IDMEN program sheet must be signed by two faculty members: the student’s primary advisor, who must be an Academic Council member of the School of Engineering faculty, and a secondary advisor. These signatures certify that the advisors endorse the major as described in the proposal and agree to serve as permanent advisors.
  3. Four-year plan. This blank form is a useful tool for organizing your plan and is needed as part of your proposal. The courses listed as part of the plan should comprise a well-coordinated sequence that fosters mastery of the important principles and techniques in a well-defined field.
  4. Letter of support. A letter of support from the student’s primary advisor appraising the academic value and viability of the proposed major and the student’s ability to successfully complete it must accompany the Proposal.

Submit: Submit your written proposal and other documents (both electronically and in hard copy) to Darlene in 135 Huang, While proposals are rarely turned down, the committee may ask you to make revisions to your course list before granting approval.
Timing: You must have at least four quarters of undergraduate work remaining at Stanford after the quarter in which your proposal is submitted. Deadlines for proposal submission are:

Deadlines for proposal submission this year are:

  • Autumn Quarter: October 24, 2013

  • Winter Quarter: February 7, 2014

  • Spring Quarter: May 2, 2014

Declaring: Once your program has been accepted by the IDMEN subcommittee, the School of Engineering will notify you via email. Download and fill out the Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major, Minor, Honors form, available on the Registrar website at If you have questions about preparing a proposal or about other parts of the process, you can talk to Darlene in the Office of Student Affairs.Once an IDMEN program is approved, any changes must be petitioned, receiving endorsement from both faculty advisors and by the IDMEN Subcommittee.

Further information and assistance in preparing proposals are available from the Office of Student Affairs, 135 Huang. Students are strongly encouraged to read “School of Engineering/Individually Designed Majors,” a handout prepared by the Undergraduate Council for students interested in the IDMEN alternative. This handout is available from the Office of Student Affairs.

Samples of Proposal Topics from Past and Current IDMENs:

  • Art & Architecture in Engineering
  • Energy & Infrastructure Engineering
  • Biochemical Engineering
  • Engineering for Sustainability
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Energy Engineering & Business
  • Computer Graphics & Simulation
  • Interactive Design Engineering
  • Computer interaction Design
  • Management Science & Design Engineering
  • Energy & Environmental Design
  • Neural Cybernetics & Engineering

All of these and more can be viewed and copied in 135 Huang, Office of Student Affairs.

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