Students are required to complete a 30 credit thematic cluster of which at least 18 credits must be upper division (300+). The thematic cluster should be comprised of coursework from three departments within the same college OR from two different colleges. We strongly encourage you to consult with your academic advisor to discuss possible cluster themes and ideas. The cluster must be submitted two semesters prior to graduation. It is the student's responsibility to design the cluster and obtain approval.
Please note: We recommend you do not apply for graduation until your thematic cluster has been approved by the director of General Studies.
The cluster proposal consists of a well-written essay and the thematic cluster form.
Students will often utilize coursework they have completed in the past that is not being used to fulfill other core or major requirements. Students are welcome to use past coursework, but it is STRONGLY encouraged to include future courses as well. Future course offerings are available online.
The essay should be double spaced and around four pages. It should include the title, name and NSHE ID, an introduction identifying the theme and construct of the cluster, a body consisting of two to four sentences for each course that is proposed describing what was learned (or what is anticipated being learned from courses not yet taken) and how it relates to the theme, and a conclusion that addresses how the cluster courses will benefit the student in their future career, educational or personal goals.
The cluster is turned in to the academic advisor for his/her signature. The advisor submits the proposal to the director of General Studies. Typically, cluster proposals are reviewed by the director and will take anywhere from 3-4 weeks for approval. If a cluster is approved by the director it is forwarded to Admissions and Records and is programmed into the student's Academic Advising Report (AAR) and becomes part of their degree requirements. If a cluster is disapproved, it is sent back to the academic advisor who will contact the student and discuss necessary changes. Once the student has made the necessary adjustments and/or revisions, it is re-submitted. This process repeats until the cluster is approved.
If a student needs to make a change to their cluster, they need to submit official paperwork via their advisor. Usually, if good reason is given why a substitution needs or wants to be made, it is granted. The student should work with their advisor and submit the appropriate paperwork prior to taking the substituted course. If a student wants to completely change the theme or direction of their thematic cluster, a new proposal and thematic cluster proposal form will need to be completed and submitted for approval.