Individualized Interdisciplinary Major (IIM)

Luther does not currently offer a Linguistics major. Students can, however, construct their own major in Linguistics through Luther’s Individualized Interdisciplinary Major (IIM). IIMs give students the opportunity to explore their varied interests by combining two or more established academic disciplines into one customized major. IIMs emphasize thinking outside the box to achieve interdisciplinary, integrative learning.

Examples of Students Pursuing IIMs

Read about students who are combining Linguistics with another area of study over the last few years:

Sarah Hibbing (‘13) and Kaitlyn Fillmore (‘15) both an completed an IIM combining Linguistics and Chinese, but because of the individualized nature of the IIM, each was able to focus on their particular area of study within the two disciplines. Sarah combined Linguistics and Chinese to form an IIM in Language Universals. Her research focused on acquiring a native-like accent as a second language learner, especially in Chinese. The IIM gave Sarah the opportunity to dive into what really interested her: similarities in form and sound between languages. She says, “[The IIM] definitely was and is the most interesting academic pursuit I've had, which is its own reward.” Kaitlyn, though, focused on what Linguistics could teach her about the structure of Chinese as well as other East Asian languages like Japanese and Korean. The Linguistics component of her IIM is helping her “connect the dots” between languages in this family. She says, “ I encourage anyone who studies another language to take a course in linguistics, as it really adds to understanding the development and mechanics behind the language.”

Additionally, Bryn Hedlund (‘16) emphasizes the advantages of an IIM for interdisciplinary study. “Before I proposed my IIM, I was an English major with minors in Spanish, Linguistics, and Music. The language courses (Spanish & Linguistics) were fascinating to me and I wanted to do more, but I didn't have time in my schedule.” The IIM, though, gave Bryn the opportunity to take full advantage of Luther’s liberal arts focus and fully explore all her academic interests. In the fall of her junior year, Bryn’s IIM proposal was approved, and she graduated in the spring of 2016 with majors in Spanish Linguistics and English, and a minor in Music. She says, “I felt that I got everything out of my time at Luther that I wanted to without having to sacrifice anything. This process is not for the faint of heart but if there is a combination of academic areas that is really interesting and connected, it is totally worth it to pursue the IIM. I have no regrets about my decision to complete an IIM, and I love that I have a unique major that I can talk about when people ask me about my time at Luther.”

IIM Senior Theses Examples

  • Three People Make a Tiger; Investigating the Role of Numbers in Learning Chinese Chengyu Four-Character Idioms, Katie Fillmore
  • Focusing on Topic: The Use of the Left Periphery in Spanish, Bryn Hedlund

Follow this link to learn more about IIM criteria and the application process.