Shelli B. Fowler, Ph.D.
Director
(804) 828-6289

Mary L. Shelden, Ph.D.
Interim assistant director
(804) 827-3922

Pamela Wiegardt, Ed.D.
Adviser
(
804) 827-8167

interdisciplinarystudies.vcu.edu

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies is an individualized and interdisciplinary program for students who wish to create an individualized curriculum not available in traditional majors or existing VCU degree programs. Students in this undergraduate degree program are able to design an individualized degree compatible with academic, career or personal goals.

The application process

To apply to the B.I.S. program, students should:

  • Attend an orientation session or meet with the adviser or assistant director in the B.I.S. program
  • Have learning goals that are suited to an interdisciplinary program of study
  • Submit an application detailing the proposed course of study, including a rationale for specific learning outcomes 

Students apply for nontraditional, individualized and interdisciplinary courses of study by designing their own curricula. The adviser of the B.I.S. program and faculty advisers work closely with students to develop an appropriate curricular program and provide guidance on the application process. With the assistance of the B.I.S. adviser and a designated faculty adviser, students define their educational goals and design their interdisciplinary curricula by drawing on a variety of course offerings. Each student’s plan must define a specific focus area that combines two or more areas of study.

The proposed interdisciplinary curriculum plan will be evaluated by the adviser or assistant director of the B.I.S. program and by the B.I.S. program director. Each application will be evaluated based on compliance with university degree requirements as well as B.I.S. curriculum and individualized program requirements. Students will be notified in writing of the dean’s decision to accept or deny admission into the program.

After admission to the program, students will follow an approved, individualized curriculum plan. The finalized curriculum plan is the official record of the student’s degree requirements. This document records all transfer credits applicable to the B.I.S. degree and lists the courses required to complete the degree. 

Individualized program requirements

Core education requirements

  1. Writing and research
    Six credit hours: UNIV 111, UNIV 112 – This two-semester sequence is required of all first-year students and provides the foundation of the Core Education Program. Students begin their Core shared experiences through the summer reading program with follow-through in the FI sequence as they engage in similar assignments and projects both in and out of class.

    Three credit hours: a research and academic writing course that emphasizes academic argument, information retrieval, analysis and documentation. UNIV 200 may be used to fill this requirement or an equivalent course designed by the department/school.
  2. Quantitative literacy
    Three credit hours (minimum) selected from following list of approved courses:
    MATH 131Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics3
    MATH 141Algebra with Applications3
    MATH 151Precalculus Mathematics4
    MATH 200Calculus with Analytic Geometry4
    SCMA 171Mathematical Applications for Business3
    STAT 208Statistical Thinking3
  3. Core general education
    Nine credits, including one course from each of the following areas:
    1. Natural/physical sciences
      BIOL 101Biological Concepts3
      BIOL/ENVS 103Environmental Science4
      CHEM 110Chemistry and Society3
      ENVS 201Earth System Science3
      FRSC 202Crime and Science3
      INSC 201Energy!3
      PHYS 103Elementary Astronomy3
    2. Humanities/fine arts
      ENGL 215Reading Literature3
      HIST 201The Art of Historical Detection: ____3
      HUMS 250Reading Film3
      MASC/INTL 151Global Communications3
      PHIL 201Critical Thinking About Moral Problems3
      PHIL 250Thinking About Thinking3
      RELS 108Human Spirituality3
      WRLD/INTL 203Cultural Texts and Contexts: ____3
      WRLD 230Introduction to World Cinema3
    3. Social/behavioral sciences
      ANTH/INTL 103Introduction to Anthropology3
      ECON 101/INTL 102Introduction to Political Economy3
      GSWS 201Introduction to Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies3
      HUMS 300Great Questions of the Social Sciences3
      INTL 101Human Societies and Globalization3
      POLI 103U.S. Government3
      POLI/INTL 105International Relations3
      PSYC 101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to PsychologyIntroduction to Psychology4
      SOCY 101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to SociologyIntroduction to Sociology3
  4. Additional general education requirements
    Nine credit hours: Select at least three courses offered by the College of Humanities and Sciences that are not required in the focus area.

  5. Capstone course
    Three credit hours: This requirement may be fulfilled through a service-learning project, a research project with a faculty member, a study abroad program, a senior thesis paper or a practical internship. This requirement ties learned experience in the Core Education Program with a practical application and will be completed through an upper-level course in the student’s focus area. Students may use the capstone in either of their minor areas or they can propose a unique capstone appropriate for their focus area.

Focus area

The individually designed interdisciplinary focus area requires a minimum of 36 semester credits, 24 of which must be upper-level credit. The focus area has to combine at least two areas of study. One way to accomplish this is to complete the requirement for two minors as designated in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Electives

Maximum of 57 credits

Other requirements

The curriculum plan must also meet the following university policies and degree requirements:

  • At least 12 credits must be taken in the focus area after acceptance into the program.
  • B.I.S majors are required to participate in assessment activities (e.g., focus groups and exit surveys) as determined by the B.I.S. adviser. Assessment information is used to assist faculty in evaluating program effectiveness.
  • Students have a variety of credit options, including CLEP examinations, credit for formal military training and credits for certain professional certifications when they do not duplicate college course work.