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Individually Designed Major in Engineering

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Individually Designed Major in Engineering (IDMEN-BS or BSH)

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. The IDMEN may not be a student's secondary major.

About the IDMEN Degree

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of programs and options within School of Engineering departments, as well as an increase in the flexibility of the program requirements. Nevertheless, sometimes students are interested in a specific goal that is not possible within these departmental offerings. The Individually Designed Major in Engineering (IDMEN) is one more option that is available for undergraduates interested in studying engineering in areas not covered by departmental majors or Engineering subplan majors.

Each IDMEN curriculum is designed by the student in consultation with at least two faculty advisors. The primary academic advisor must be in the School of Engineering and 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 (and the other three documents -- see below) to the IDMEN Subcommittee of the Undergraduate Council detailing her or his proposed course of study; you may email to Darlene Lazar at, or bring your proposal documents to 135 Huang. IDMEN programs must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • 21 units of mathematics (see SoE-approved course list on Approved Courses page)
  • 17 units of science (see SoE-approved course list on Approved Courses page. Note that only one social science course, above the level of introductory coursework such as PSYCH 1, may be used)
  • One course on Technology in Society (must be on the SoE-approved course list on Approved Courses page the year it is taken)
  • 40 units of School of Engineering courses, at least two of which must be Engineering Fundamentals courses (see approved course list on the Courses), and 34 units of which must be coursework from the School of Engineering. (Introductory Seminars (introsems), ENGR 1 or 2, SIC, and Sophomore College (SC) courses are not allowed to count in the IDMEN program).
  • At least one of the Engineering courses must be identified as a “capstone/senior project” course in a SoE major, with content and activities that are relevant to your proposed goals (for example, ME 216B+C are the capstone courses for the Product Design major, and ENVSE has a list of 5-9 capstone offerings, depending upon the specialty area chosen). Your capstone should fit into your SoE topic focus; an Honors thesis or project may not be used for the capstone. [NOTE for those with a MS&E-centric program: The MS&E capstone/WIM course (MS&E 108) is available only to those declared in the MS&E program, so you will need to find an alternative.]
  • Additional courses to bring the total to at least 90 units
  • WIM: Student must take one course related to their focus area that is designated as a Writing in the Major course by the SoE department offering the course. Alternatively, a research writing/revision project approved in advance by both advisors and the IDMEN committee may satisfy WIM if you also enroll in ENGR 199W.
  • All courses used for the IDMEN program must be taken for a letter grade if that option is offered. The exception is that a grade of CR or S is acceptable for courses taken during the 6 quarter of the pandemic (Spring 2020 – Summer 2021)

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 about program requirements and process, but for content and course ideas it is advisable to review previously approved proposals/plans (see list at end of page) and confer with faculty advisors.

Each IDMEN curriculum is designed in consultation with at least two faculty advisors. If you still have questions after conferring with two advisors, you may schedule an appointment with the Senior Associate Dean to solicit feedback (phone 650-723-5984 or see Darlene Lazar in 135 Huang 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 as listed above.

Each proposal must contain the following five 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.  You can access previous approved IDMEN programs on Box (find link near the bottom of the page)
  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.
  5. Copy of your unofficial Stanford transcript.

Submit: Submit your proposal and other documents via email to Darlene ( or in 135 Huang). While proposals are occasionally turned down, it is more likely that 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 below; proposals are reviewed three times per year:

Deadlines for proposal submission are:

Autumn Quarter: October 17, 2022
Winter Quarter: February 6, 2023
Spring Quarter: May 1, 2023

If the reviewing committee has questions or concerns about your proposed program, they will contact you. The School of Engineering OSA will notify you via email once the review of your proposal is complete. See instructions below for how to declare. Once an IDMEN program is approved, any changes must be petitioned, receiving endorsement from both faculty advisors and approval by the IDMEN Subcommittee.

Declaring: Once your program has been accepted by the IDMEN subcommittee, the School of Engineering will notify you via email; you may then declare the IDMEN-BS degree on Axess. If you have questions about preparing a proposal or about other parts of the process, you can talk to or email 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.

IDMEN-BSH Honors Option

IDMEN majors with a strong academic record and enthusiasm for independent research in a significant project may elect to pursue a Bachelor’s degree with Honors. This option is particularly valuable for students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. because the research experience helps prepare a student for doctoral-level work. The honors thesis, and any coursework associated with the honors degree, is above and beyond the scope of the major itself and cannot be counted as part of the basic IDMEN-BS requirements. Guidelines and deadlines on pursuing the IDMEN-BSH option are set forth in the Honors Programs page, Individually Designed Major in Engineering section.

Further information and assistance in preparing proposals are available from the Office of Student Affairs, 135 Huang. 

Samples of Proposal Topics from Past and Current IDMENs

See IDMEN proposals to access past and current proposals (Chrome recommended). You can use the option on Box to put the titles in alpha order; the two-digit number after the title refers to the year the IDMEN was proposed and approved. Here is a sample of programs students have created:

  • Art & Architecture in Engineering
  • Energy & Infrastructure Engineering
  • Biochemical Engineering
  • Engineering for Sustainability
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Engineering Design & Innovation
  • Energy Engineering & Business
  • Interactive Design Engineering
  • Computer interaction Design
  • Organizational Design and Engineering
  • Energy & Environmental Design
  • Neural Cybernetics & Engineering
  • Sustainable Design and Engineering


Instructions for Declaring the Individually Designed Major

  1.   Investigate existing majors to determine whether your goals can be met by pursuing a pre-defined major. It is important to gather information about the majors and their options by talking to students and professors.
  2.   If you decide to pursue an individually designed major, talk to faculty members to get their advice. Identify two Stanford faculty members who can serve as advisors and select one as your "primary" advisor.
    • The primary advisory must be within the School of Engineering and must be a member of the Stanford Academic Council, which means that Lecturers and Visiting Professors cannot fill this role.
    • The secondary advisor need not be a member of the Academic Council and may be outside of the School of Engineering.
  3.  Work with your advisors to design a proposal (as described above), including the following materials:
    • A rationale statement describing the proposed major
    • An Individually Designed Major program sheet (on Plans & Program Sheets page of the UGHB website)
    • A four-year plan listing the courses you intend to take (find a blank form on the Plans & Program Sheets page)
    • A letter of support from your primary advisor
  4.   Submit the proposal package by scanning to Darlene Lazar or dropping into the SoE Office of Student Affairs (OSA), 135 Huang. See above for quarterly deadlines. Note that it can take 2-4 weeks to get a response from the reviewing committee.
  5.   When your major has been reviewed, you will either receive an email of approval/denial or be given some guidelines to modify your major in order to satisfy the reviewing committee.
  6.    Once your IDMEN is approved, declare your IDMEN-BS degree in Axess