Program Overview

The Individualized Studies Bachelor of Arts degree reflects the original mission of Metropolitan State University-to give students primary authority over and responsibility for their educations. With guidance from faculty in the entry course PRSP 301 Perspectives: Educational Philosophy & Planning, students design their own course of study towards the completion of the Bachelor of Arts. Students design their own "focus," which is often interdisciplinary, and typically involves subject areas from across the entire knowledge tradition. In addition to traditional classroom learning, students also use a variety of learning strategies such as student-directed learning (credit for prior learning or independent study) theory seminars, and internships. Examples of programs students have designed include: combining subjects from two different colleges such as political science and business administration, or focusing on broad general themes through the perspective of a variety of subject areas, such as the environmental movement, international development and Third World tourism, or community development. Students are assigned academic advisors who assist them in their progress toward completion of the degree. For more information, contact or 651-793-1783.

More information about this program

Declare Your Major

To be eligible for acceptance to the Individualized Studies program, students must submit a College of Individualized Studies Undergraduate Program Declaration Form. This form is normally submitted while taking PRSP 301, Perspectives: Educational Philosophy and Planning, but can be done prior to taking the course.

Students are classified as Pre-Individualized Studies majors until they complete PRSP 301 and develop an approved degree plan.

Declare Your Program


Courses required for your specific program are listed in the right column on this page. They include prerequisite, foundation, core and elective courses. Contact your advisor with questions concerning your degree plan.


Requirements can overlap, for example, the 20 College of Individualized Studies residency requirements also meet the university residency requirements and courses in the focus area might also meet Liberal Studies Requirements.


In PRSP 301 Perspectives: Educational Philosophy and Planning, students design individualized focus areas that address their educational goals. The focus can include transferred credits, including up to 80 technical college transfer credits, and MTC classes. The College encourages students to design their degree programs within a broad framework that embraces these competence areas: communication, math/science & the natural world, vocation, avocation, humanities, community (including global citizenship and multicultural perspectives), and lifelong learning.

Creative Learning Strategies

You may choose to use a variety of learning strategies to complete your Individualized BA, including student-directed learning and assessment of your prior learning for credit. Find out more about Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), Theory Seminars and Student-Designed Independent Study (SDIS) under Creative Learning Strategies.

Course options include in-person courses, accelerated courses, online and blended online/in-class courses, and Faculty-Designed Independent Studies (FDIS). The individualized BA is available as a degree-at-a-distance, which can incorporate a variety of learning strategies including online courses, FDIS and some of the Creative Learning Strategies described above. 

How Admissions Works

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Course List


Requirements ( 120 total credits)

Individualized Studies Required Courses (20 credits)

College of Individualized Studies residency requirement (20 credits), including the following two CIS Courses.

An individualized focus (32 credits minimum which may include transfer credits).

Students earning an Individualized Studies degree must also compete the following:

  • PRSP 301 Perspectives: Educational Philosophy and Planning
    4 credits

    This course considers, from a multidisciplinary perspective, the questions "What is an educated person? What character traits mark an educated person? And how does becoming educated impact one's personal, family and social life?" While it is a required course for all students who plan to complete an Individualized B.A., it is also a helpful course for students in any of the other colleges who are not sure about their major focus. The course helps students develop their own individualized degree plans or program outlines by providing time to reflect on what they want to learn and the best way to learn it. Students assess their own academic strengths and weaknesses and meet resource people from around the university who challenge them to think about education in a broad and liberating manner. While most students often focus first on their vocational goals in higher education, this course challenges students to think also about their community involvement and lifelong learning needs.

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  • PRSP 499 Capstone
    4 credits

    This course is the culminating experience in a student's College of Individualized Studies program and is required of graduating seniors. Students demonstrate the relationship between what they have learned and the university's philosophical tenets and academic outcomes related to communication skills, critical thinking, multicultural understanding, global perspectives and citizenship. Students also consider their lifelong learning plans, possible career changes and future liberal learning opportunities. Students should register for this course in one of their final university semesters.

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Individualized Studies Courses and Workshops

We also offer a variety of interdisciplinary courses and workshops for all students, especially those who want to use learning gained via experience toward college credit, or want to include interdisciplinary studies in their degree programs.

  • METR 100 Getting Credit for What You Know
    1 credits

    This one-credit course is designed for students who wish to examine the various options for gaining credits for learning outside the formal college or university classroom. Options explored include using military experience toward a degree, taking standardized tests in areas of your learning, earning credit from approved courses offered by business and human service agencies, pursuing assessment of prior experiential learning, and learning about Metropolitan State theory seminars. These options may not duplicate credit that you have already on a college transcript. In the class, students do a self assessment of their skills and abilities, write an educational goals statement, and identify ways to earn credit from non-classroom learning that are consistent with individual goals. Within the class, students will assemble the necessary evidence to directly pursue these alternative options of earning credit.

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  • METR 101 Your Academic Journey
    3 credits

    Students relatively new to university education or those returning to college after a number of years often find the transition difficult. This course is designed to introduce students to Metropolitan State and its academic programs and services. It also helps students self-assess their abilities and gain knowledge in important reading and writing skills, public speaking, listening skills, study skills, and critical thinking. The course provides a firm foundation for all university learning that follows. It is required of all newly-admitted students with less than 16 semester credits. Students with fewer than 30 semester credits, or students who have been away from college for some time, are also strongly encouraged to enroll.

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  • PRSP 002 College of Individualized Studies Degree Plan Updating Workshop
    0 credits

    This free, one-session workshop is an opportunity for students to revise "old" degree plans completed in the Perspectives or Individualized Educational Planning (IEP) course. It is also for students who completed Perspectives at one time when a College of Individualized Studies individualized degree plan was not required, or who have made substantial changes in the focus of their original degree plan.

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  • PRSP 302T Self-Directed Learning Theory Seminar
    4 credits

    This theory seminar is designed for adult students who have engaged in one or more self-directed projects and/or activities a year. Self-directed learning applies to broad areas of interest and includes, but is not limited to, experiences in travel, business, self education, literacy, entertainment, the arts, environment, home improvement, gardening, parenting, activism, volunteerism, and the like. Students read and discuss leading adult learning theories covering a wide range of thinkers and their complex and relevant thoughts. Also, students who enroll in this theory seminar are encouraged to link their learning experience with the theories, concepts, approaches and paradigms being considered in the seminar.

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  • PRSP 310 Interdisciplinary Conversations
    2 credits

    This course provides students an opportunity to actively develop skills in interdisciplinary scholarly thinking and communication with the help of a faculty director. A student-driven seminar format helps students deepen academic habits of inquiry, critical and creative problem solving; and allows continued reflection on the value of academic learning. Students bring to the table discussion topics from their individualized studies. Together, students and faculty explore subjects of mutual interest and learn from each other. Students connect isolated learning experiences to develop a holistic understanding that enriches the learning outcomes of their individualized educations.

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  • IDST 310 Principles of Civic Engagement
    4 credits

    The goal of this is to help prepare students for a lifetime of responsible citizenship and civic engagement. As a foundation course, it will have rigorous civic and community engagement components.

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  • IDST 321 Human Rights and the Educated Citizen
    4 credits

    This course introduces student to the concepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and human rights, Western and non-Western conceptions of human rights, and the complex nature of human rights issues influenced by individual, cultural, and social values. Students will also gain a framework for analytical skills essential to human rights work and the complexity and interdependency of human family which will promote an understanding of the individual, local, and global forces that create abuses and potential solutions at the local, national, and international level. Through community involvement, students will be able to connect human rights theories and cases around the globe to our local community and vice versa and will develop an action plan for a local organization of their choice or in their personal environment. The course will also provide students a great opportunity to take concrete action on human rights issues and get involved in "change" or initiating change in the local community.

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  • IDST 330 Women in Math, Science and Technology
    4 credits

    This interdisciplinary course explores the history, theory and methods of analysis for understanding institutional barriers to women's participation in math, science, and technology. Students will explore the history of women's participation, the ways in which the philosophy of science has created an exclusive view of science itself as well as science education, the educational and professional climate for women in these fields, and the ways in which stereotypical images of women in literature and film continue to influence women's participation.

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  • IDST 343 Perspectives on Community Development
    4 credits

    This class will examine theories and models of community development, and introduce students to the realities of community development work. The course explores the history of the community development field from its origins in the late 19th-century urbanization through present innovations fueled by grassroots, foundations and public policy initiatives. The lens of movement and industry approaches will be a key analytical tool. Three traditions in the field community building, community organizing, and community development will be critically examined and compared, including exploring the dynamic relationship between these three traditions. Special attention will be given to community development challenges facing traditionally disenfranchised communities, including factors of race, class and gender. The class will emphasize both a theoretical understanding of community dynamics, ad an introduction to practical skills used by people working in the community development field.

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  • IDST 370 Cinema, Self and Other
    4 credits

    This course offers an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing how identities (cultural, sexual, ethnic, etc.) are constructed in and through film. It provides students with the basic vocabulary and primary theoretical approaches to film analysis and asks them to consider how various points of view and social and political issues are presented and framed, and how our fears and fantasies about others are projected on the screen. Students will help select the films for viewing and discussion, keep a journal of responses to our readings and films, and present a film analysis on one of our themes.

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  • IDST 385 Turning Points: Self-Transformation
    4 credits

    Researchers define turning points as a "major transformation in views about the self, identity or the meaning of life." They occur as new things are learned, rendering us amenable to change, and produce perceived, long-lasting redirection in the path of a one's life. Psychologists associate turning points with transitions and stages of human development defined and explored by Erik Erikson. Ignoring uplifting turning points and with distressing turning points in mind, the philosopher Frederick Nietzsche wrote "that which does not kill us makes us stronger." Retirement or loss of retirement income, end of a love affair, reaching the "golden years" (maturity) or learning that one (or a family member) has a fatal disease are examples of turning points. Portrayals, in film and literature, of individuals coping with obstacles to happiness or overcoming adversity dramatize turning points. Rhetorical, films and literature are cultural artifacts that comfort, guide generations and teach us how to live! Lessons learned from contemporary films and classical literature are a primary focus of this course.

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  • IDST 401 Interdisciplinary Topics in Educational Perspectives
    4 credits

    This course is designed to give students advanced skills in critical thinking and multicultural perspectives by presenting a series of interdisciplinary topics which build on previous disciplinary study, introduces students to a broader range of ideas and learning strategies, and prepare students for advanced work in graduate or professional studies. See the Class Schedule for topics to be addressed when this course is offered.

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