Creating a New Path: Illinois Tech Unveils Discover+ Program



By Casey Halas
Student working with a drone and laptop

As the fall 2023 semester grows near, Illinois Institute of Technology is eager to welcome a new class of students who are ready to explore a new realm of possibilities and to jump-start their future.

While some incoming students may be certain about the academic path that they want to take, others may not be ready to choose between one of the many programs and degrees that are available at Illinois Tech. That’s OK. Finding a major that’s the right fit isn’t always a linear process, and Illinois Tech is focused on helping students weigh their options and set themselves up for success.  

To do so, Illinois Tech is excited to announce the launch of Discover+, a new program that will help students explore their academic interests and allow them to declare a major at their own pace.

Applicants and incoming undergraduate students who have yet to decide an area of study can choose the Discover+ program as their major for their first two years at Illinois Tech. Enrolling in the Discover+ program grants students flexibility in the decision-making process so that they have the time to explore the university’s many academic programs and to eventually choose a major.

Discover+ provides students with the opportunity to take various courses across several disciplines to see what interests them the most. Students can take time to learn about themselves, their academic needs, and career goals, while also learning about engaging topics ranging from game design to food science. While Discover+ itself is not affiliated with any specific college or institute at Illinois Tech, it is its own unique program that ensures exposure to a wide variety of course and degree options, which in turn assists students in selecting the perfect major for their interests and goals.

“Discover+ at Illinois Tech is a direct response to the evolving landscape of higher education and the diverse needs of our students,” says Illinois Tech President Raj Echambadi. “We believe that providing students with the opportunity to explore various disciplines and develop a well-rounded skill set will better prepare them for success in an ever-changing world.”

Students enrolled in the program will also work closely with an academic adviser who will provide them with expert guidance on their personal academic path through routine check-ins each semester. These check-ins offer students the opportunity to discuss their progress in their courses, any challenges they might be facing, or any questions they might have about prospective majors. 

During the two-year program, students enroll in general education courses and courses in an academic program of interest. Students in the program can declare a major as early as the second semester of their first year, or they have the flexibility to continue to consider options and make a decision by the end of their second year.

Students can also participate in Illinois Tech’s one-of-a-kind Elevate program in tandem with the Discover+ program. Through Elevate, students can take part in hands-on experiences (i.e., internships, study away, competitions, etc.), engage in personalized mentorship, and receive a tailored career plan, helping them determine their major and their future profession. By participating in Elevate, students will acquire the practical and professional skills they need to be career ready.

“We are thrilled to offer these new academic pathways that reflect the dynamic, interdisciplinary nature of the modern workforce,” says Illinois Tech Interim Provost Kenneth T. Christensen. “Our students will have the opportunity to develop a unique skill set that combines technology, critical thinking, and creativity, making them highly sought-after candidates in their respective fields.”

Once students have honed in on an area of study, they will be ready to declare a major and seamlessly transition into an academic degree program of their choosing, while still earning their bachelor’s degree in four years.

“We all know that learning doesn’t begin at Convocation and end at Commencement,” says Mallik Sundharam, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at Illinois Tech. “We have looked deeply at the students of today and the market demands of tomorrow, and are tailoring our academic offerings by focusing on student success before, during, and after their time at Illinois Tech. We’re working to shift the definition of what it means to truly bring value to our students throughout their careers.”

Certain majors—such as programs in Armour College of Engineering and College of Computing, as well as financial economics, finance, biology, chemistry, physics, food science and nutrition, and architecture programs—are selective and may require additional requirements or course credits, depending on the program. Incoming transfer students can elect to join the Discover+ program with approval from the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.