International & Comparative Policy Studies

Majoring in ICPS

How do I become an ICPS major?

The ICPS Program demands careful planning and much independent study with a minimal amount of faculty supervision; it is intended for students who have acquired a solid and strong academic background and who are definite as to their future goals.

First, choose a home department and arrange for an academic advisor there. This department will be your home base as you reach out to learn about other issues in other disciplines. You will take your Junior Qual in this department whether you are an ICPS major or not. In conjunction with your advisor, you should discuss your options. If you think ICPS is for you, you will need to apply to enter the major, by filling out this form:

Details on the application and deadlines are below.

Freshman and Sophomore Year

Sometimes it does make more sense to choose a regular major rather than ICPS; students find they can do everything they want to do by pursuing a regular program in sociology, political science, economics or history. It is important early on to picture the different possibilities available in your final two years at Reed and decide what is best for you. By choosing a traditional major, you will have regular supervision. You will also be required to take a broad range of courses in a particular discipline. By electing to be an ICPS major, you potentially sacrifice breadth in a particular discipline for more depth in departments outside your major. This often means that your path through your home department major will be constricted, with fewer course choices in that major. It also means a greater burden falls to you to synthesize the variety of courses you plan to take outside your department. And whereas students writing a thesis in a department can take a lot for granted in terms of literature and problems, ICPS students need to think about how and why their thesis is interdisciplinary.

That is why, when you become an ICPS major, we require an explicit application including a justification for your proposed course of study. On your application form, list your reasons for becoming an ICPS major and the courses you plan to take to satisfy the ICPS requirements. Once you have a proper application, propose it to the ICPS Committee. You should know, however, that the ICPS Committee might advise you that your interests are best served by continuing your major in your home department. We highly recommend submitting a draft of your application to the faculty member in your proposed home discipline on the ICPS committee. Acceptance is not automatic. The Committee may feel that your goals might be better served through a regular major and may strongly advise you to pursue that course of action. This point reinforces the importance of carefully thinking through your proposal.

Your application must be submitted to the ICPS Committee no later than the first semester of your junior year prior to the Committee's deadline for considering new proposals. Students are strongly encouraged to meet the twelfth-week second-semester sophomore application deadline. Acceptance is not automatic. The Committee may feel that your goals might be better served through a regular major and may strongly advise you to pursue that course of action. This point reinforces the importance of carefully thinking through your proposal.

For juniors in their first semester, the application must be submitted by noon of the Friday of week 1 of instruction. For sophomores in their second semester, the application must be submitted by noon of the Monday of week 12 (week 11 of instruction). They should be submitted electronically to Julie Shannon and the chair of ICPS. The committee reviews applications twice a semester after the submission deadlines. The deadline for applying for first-semester juniors in Fall 2019 is September 6, 2019; for second-semester sophomores it is November 18, 2019.