Shelli B. Fowler, Ph.D.
Mary L. Shelden, Ph.D.
Interim assistant director
Pamela Wiegardt, Ed.D.
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
- 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.
- Quantitative literacy
Three credit hours (minimum) selected from following list of approved courses:
MATH 131 Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics 3 MATH 141 Algebra with Applications 3 MATH 151 Precalculus Mathematics 4 MATH 200 Calculus with Analytic Geometry 4 SCMA 171 Mathematical Applications for Business 3 STAT 208 Statistical Thinking 3
- Core general education
Nine credits, including one course from each of the following areas:
- Natural/physical sciences
BIOL 101 Biological Concepts 3 BIOL/ENVS 103 Environmental Science 4 CHEM 110 Chemistry and Society 3 ENVS 201 Earth System Science 3 FRSC 202 Crime and Science 3 INSC 201 Energy! 3 PHYS 103 Elementary Astronomy 3
- Humanities/fine arts
ENGL 215 Reading Literature 3 HIST 201 The Art of Historical Detection: ____ 3 HUMS 250 Reading Film 3 MASC/INTL 151 Global Communications 3 PHIL 201 Critical Thinking About Moral Problems 3 PHIL 250 Thinking About Thinking 3 RELS 108 Human Spirituality 3 WRLD/INTL 203 Cultural Texts and Contexts: ____ 3 WRLD 230 Introduction to World Cinema 3
- Social/behavioral sciences
ANTH/INTL 103 Introduction to Anthropology 3 ECON 101/INTL 102 Introduction to Political Economy 3 GSWS 201 Introduction to Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies 3 HUMS 300 Great Questions of the Social Sciences 3 INTL 101 Human Societies and Globalization 3 POLI 103 U.S. Government 3 POLI/INTL 105 International Relations 3 PSYC 101 Play course video for Introduction to Psychology Introduction to Psychology 4 SOCY 101 Play course video for Introduction to Sociology Introduction to Sociology 3
- Natural/physical sciences
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.
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.
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.
Maximum of 57 credits
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.