Students who complete the program earn a Bachelor of Individualized Studies (BIS) degree, completing college credit through both traditional and nontraditional methods.
Traditional methods of earning college credit include taking courses on site at VSU or transferring credits from other regionally accredited community colleges, colleges and universities. Nontraditional methods include credit by examination, credit for educational experiences in the Armed Forces as evaluated by the American Council on Education, and credit for work/life learning as documented by a personal portfolio. Candidates must earn a minimum of 120 semester hours or the equivalent to obtain their degree.
The following minimum requirements must be met:
A maximum of 33-37 semester hours (SH) consisting of:
- 6 SH in English Composition
- 3 SH in Literature
- 3 SH in Humanities
- 3 SH in Social Sciences
- 3 SH in History
- 3 SH in Global Studies
- 6 SH in Mathematics
- 4 SH in Natural Sciences*
- 2 SH in Wellness Health
A minimum of 30 semester hours in a particular area will be selected by the student to be designated as their specialization. This specialization indicates the primary focus of the individualized degree program. At least 15 SH in the specialization must be coursework taken at VSU at the upper level (junior/senior level).
The remaining semester hours taken to complete the degree beyond the general education requirement and the specialization courses are listed as elective credits. These elective credits should complement the area of specialization or reflect a secondary interest.
At least 31 SH must be earned from Virginia State University.
At least 40 SH must be earned at the upper division (Junior/Senior level).
At least 60 SH must be earned from traditional classroom study (transfer and/or resident courses). At least 30 of these 60 SH must have been earned within six years of graduation. A maximum of 64 SH from the community college level may be applied towards the BIS degree. A maximum of 30 SH may be awarded for work/life experience (portfolio petition). A maximum of 30 SH each may also be earned for Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and for military education courses.
Credit for educational experiences in the Armed Forces may be awarded after one has completed the admission process, enrolled in INDS 302-Orientation, and submitted documentation of military education/training (a military transcript). Academic credit is based on the recommendations of the American Council on Education (ACE). This evaluation is done by an advisor in the BIS degree program, not by Admissions.
Credit for work/life experience may be awarded on the basis of enrollment in INDS-301, Life/Work Seminar, and the preparation of a personal portfolio documenting experiential learning. Life/work learning must be matched with courses currently offered by Virginia State University, as reflected in the current catalog. Each portfolio will be evaluated by the faculty of the academic department from which credit is being petitioned.
The flexibility of the above distribution requirements and the traditional and nontraditional methods of earning credit allow the nontraditional student, working with an academic advisor, to design a program of study tailored to meet his/her individualized educational goals. Courses may be taken at several locations convenient to the student, including on-campus classes (days, evenings and weekends) and evening courses at Fort Lee.
BIS candidates may be full-time students (12-18 hours) or part-time students (less than 12 hours). Students admitted to the BIS degree program are eligible to apply for financial aid.