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Individualized Studies Bachelor of Arts (BA)

About The Program

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For students who want to create their own academic path, the Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies program places the needs and dreams of those students at the center of their educational journey. Since 1971, our students have been able to design individual degree programs to meet their educational, professional, and personal goals. Your unique Individualized Studies bachelor’s degree can be customized to build on what you have already learned and accomplished in school, work and in life. The College of Individualized Studies offers you a chance to:

  • Incorporate courses from a variety of different subjects
  • Design a degree that reflects your educational, personal, and career interests
  • Transfer credits from other schools and apply them toward a BA degree
  • Use creative learning strategies, including prior learning to complete your degree in less time

The Individualized Studies Bachelor of Arts degree reflects the original mission of Metro State University—to givestudents primary authority over and responsibility for their education. Students design their own course of study with guidance from faculty in the initial course, PRSP 301 Perspectives: Educational Philosophy & Planning, creating well-balanced multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or intradisciplinary Liberal Arts degrees.

  • Multidisciplinary: unrelated areas of coursework in more than one discipline.
  • Interdisciplinary: coursework is in more than one discipline, but it is tied together thematically (blending two distinct subject areas that extend across two or more colleges).
  • Intradisciplinary: all coursework is within the same discipline.

In the College of Individualized Studies you design your degree plan around an educational goal statement and self-design a focus/concentration (terminology that is similar to a major) you would be creating a unique focus that is integrated thematically and includes study from many disciplines.

Students also self-design focuses that are not found in any other area of the university that are unique to the student's personal, educational and career aspirations. Your degree plan is a blueprint for building your Individualized Studies BA. Similar to a blueprint, your degree plan sketches your overall vision of what you hope to build.

If you are looking for an education that spans multiple subjects and professions, or an area in which Metro State does not offer a major, the College of Individualized Studies may be your academic home. The Individualized Studies bachelor’s degree program gives you the opportunity to:

  • Focus your degree on your individual learning and career
  • Combine multiple subjects from across the university curriculum
  • Earn credit for learning outside the classroom
  • Apply up to 80 Technical Program credits to your four-year degree

To navigate the limitless possibilities of the individually designed academic experience, students are assigned academic advisors who assist them in their progress toward completion of the degree.

Want to know more about Individualized Studies?

If having self-designed coursework seems appealing to you, studying for a bachelor’s degree in Individualized Studies at Metro State may be a great fit. Our award-winning faculty and urban campus in Saint Paul offer a range of unrivaled opportunities to help pursue your academic and professional goals. Contact or call 651-793-1937 for additional information.

Related minors

How to enroll

Current students: Declare this program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further admission requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Individualized Studies Bachelor of Arts (BA) now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Individualized Studies Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Program eligibility requirements

To join the Individualized Studies program, students must submit a College of Individualized Studies Undergraduate Program Declaration Form.

Courses and Requirements


The program requires students to create a self-designed and faculty-approved individualized degree plan, which is developed while taking PRSP 301, Perspectives in the first semester.

Students need 120 credits total to achieve a BA degree. These 120 credits must satisfy both baccalaureate degree requirements and program requirements. Credits may overlap to satisfy more than one requirement.

Baccalaureate Degree Requirements:

  • General Education (40 credits), which is defined by the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum in 10 Goal Areas.
  • Liberal Studies (8 credits), which are upper-division general education courses.
  • Racial Issues Graduation Requirement (3 credits), which is typical met through approved coursework.
  • Upper Division (40 credits), which are credits earned at the 300 level and above.
  • Metro State Residency (30 credits), which are credits earned from Metro State University.

Individualized Program Requirements:

  • Program Residency (20 credits), which are credits earned from any institution while in the program.
  • Focus Area (32 credits or more), which is each student's self-designed area of study. The focus area must include the following:
    • PRSP 301: Perspectives (4 credits), which must be completed with an approved degree plan by the end of a student's first semester in the program. This class also counts toward the Liberal Studies requirement.
    • PRSP 499: Capstone (4 credits), which must be taken during a student's final semester in the program, before graduation.
    • At least 12 upper division credits in addition to PRSP 301 and PRSP 499.

Program Requirements

+ Degree Plan

The program requires students to create a self-designed and faculty-approved individualized degree plan, which is developed while taking PRSP 301, Perspectives in the first semester. Students reflect on and assess their prior educational and work/life learning, set their own learning goals, and design their unique degree plan to earn a BA.

+ Program Residency (20 credits)

College of Individualized Studies residency requirement (20 credits), includes credits earned at any institution while in the program. Residency credits include the 8 credits earned in required core courses, PRSP 301 and PRSP 499. The remaining 16 residency credit may be earned by additional course work or creative learning strategies.

+ Focus Area (32 credits or more)

Individualized BA students design their own focus area of 32 credits more, which includes the the 8 credits earned in required core courses, PRSP 301 and PRSP 499. In addition to these core courses, at least 12 credits in the focus area must be at the upper division (300 level and above). The remaining focus area credits may be earned by additional course work or creative learning strategies, and may include credits in transfer from other institutions. The program can count more than 16 technical credits in a student's focus area as part of their approved degree plan. Students often design focus areas with more than 32 credits

This course considers, from a multidisciplinary perspective, the questions: "What is the purpose and value of an education today? What does it mean to be educated? What does it mean for students to have responsibility and authority over their education, and what contexts empower or constrain students' abilities to exercise responsibility and authority? How does an education shape (and how is it shaped by) one's identities, interactions with communities, and/or global challenges?" While it is a required course for all students who plan to complete an Individualized B.A/BAS, 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. While most students often focus first on their vocational goals in higher education, this course challenges students to…

Full course description for Perspectives: Educational Philosophy and Planning

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.

Full course description for Capstone

+ Interdisciplinary courses and workshops

The College of Individualized Studies 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.

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.

Full course description for Getting Credit for What You Know

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.

Full course description for Your Academic Journey

This course is for students who are seeking work or preparing to do so and would like structure for thinking about the world of work and a process for defining next steps in pursuing their career interests. The class will outline -- and practice -- the components of the active job search process. Student would have opportunities to create experiments to learn more about their career niche and connect with professionals one-on- one who are working in fields of students' interest. This course also addresses the development of marketing tools including resume, cover letters and developing an online presence through LinkedIn.

Full course description for Reinventing Your Career: Theory and Practice

This lower division course draws from METR110 and METR100 to prepare students for potential internship opportunities. Through internships, students may earn credits by applying theories to practice, attain experiential learning that can also be listed on their resume, and in some cases, develop relationships that enhance civic engagement and lead to employment.

Full course description for Applying What You Know in Internships. Application of Theory to Practice

This course is for students who are seeking structure for lifelong learning about the world of work and a process for defining next steps in pursuing their career interests. Students will draw from career development theory and strategies and apply them to their job search and life-long career management, with special emphasis on the verbal elements of an effective search process: introducing yourself, networking conversations, and handling interview questions. Students will also develop self-marketing tools including a strong resume, cover letters, and references. Students will have opportunities to research their career niche and connect with professionals one-on- one who are working in fields of students' interest. A community partner (corporation, nonprofit, or government agency) will serve as a workplace culture "case study", offering insights on their organizational culture, hiring practices, site tour, and mock interview coaching and feedback. Students work toward mastery of…

Full course description for Reimagining Your Career: Job Search Framework and Strategies

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.

Full course description for College of Individualized Studies Degree Plan Updating Workshop

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.

Full course description for Interdisciplinary Conversations

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.

Full course description for Self-Directed Learning Theory Seminar

This course explores the roles, strategies and contributions of Minnesota women across cultures in public life, past and present with focus on leadership to identify and challenge racism and sexism to achieve greater equity. Major project for the class and shorter assignments offer opportunities to include experiential learning and application of community resources, oral history and research methodologies.

Full course description for Women in Minnesota Life: Education, Politics and Social Change

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…

Full course description for Human Rights and the Educated Citizen

Knows elements and theories contributing to multiple senses and understanding of place, inter-relatedness of human society and complex environmental challenges. Students will identify a place of significance to them, illuminate understanding of the sense of that place through interdisciplinary research and reflection, and apply personal, community and ecological dimensions of place to personal, local, regional and national efforts to sustain and enhance place for self and community. This course is inspired by the interdisciplinary, community-rooted Chautauqua model for adult learning and critical thinking, a model designed to build on experiential learning with ¿intellectual quickening.¿

Full course description for Reimagining and Sustaining Sense of Place

Learning by doing, participants will reflect deeply, alone and together, on their experiences of peace. In constant dialogue, participants will use collaborative critical thinking skills to learn and unlearn preconceived notions about peace from multiple perspectives. The course culminates in the class creation of a common product-an essential definition of the phenomenon of peace--thus preparing themselves to work with diverse others for peace in their communities.

Full course description for Perspectives on Peace: 

This course investigates the global geography of the world's three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, interrogating why these traditions emerged in particular places and how they dispersed across the globe. Students will gain basic map reading skills and hands-on experience using a web-based geographic information system (GIS) as a tool both for researching religious traditions and presenting knowledge to others. This course emphasizes the role of political and economic geography on religious beliefs and practices in different regions, historically and today, using case studies from southwest Asia and Europe. In addition to mapping, geographic topics include the interplay between religious traditions and the natural environment, concepts of sacred place and space, and geographic trends in secularization.

Full course description for Mapping Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

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.

Full course description for Women in Math, Science and Technology

This course explores the ways identities are presented, fantasized, manipulated and politicized in popular films. We will look at how images of self and other are constructed according to social, cultural, ethnic, and gendered meanings within film narratives through categories of race, sex, class, and gender. Students will be introduced to the vocabulary and primary theories of film analysis and focus on both sociological and psychoanalytical film theories and conduct an analysis of a film of their choice. The aim of this course is to give students the critical tools for analyzing how film both constructs and presents identities, which affects how we define ourselves, experience enjoyment, and relate to others.

Full course description for Cinema, Self and Other

This Mitchell Hamline School of Law course is an introduction to the American legal system as practiced in the United States and is taught as a standard law school presentation approach. Students must demonstrate an understanding of the legal methodology used in interpreting the law. To address this, te course reviews the legal practices and describes the process of law, interpretation of the law and doctrinal courses in areas of criminal law, criminal procedures, contracts, and commercial law. This course also includes elements of the law, legal reasoning and writing. Students are given a mix of case law and statutory law, and are shown how the law is applied in factual, hypothetical situations.

Full course description for American Legal System, Reasoning and Writing

This course examines different theories and philosophies of adult learning within the United States education system. Students will examine their understanding of the modern practice of adult learning through an examination of these theories and philosophies and the application of principles, concepts, and aims of learning perspectives and methods. Students will develop an understanding of their own learning styles as well as the styles of others with very different backgrounds. Students will critically examine the role of adult literacy within the context of social movements such as civil and women's rights. As a class, we will look to understand race, gender and class dynamics within broader society through the lens of adult learning and literacy. By understanding diverse institutional and group dynamics within adult learning, students will assess various schools of thought in adult education and gain an appreciation for the perspectives of others in a complex society.

Full course description for Adult Learning and Social Change

Various authors define turning points as "major transformations in views about the self, identity, or the meaning of life." Psychologists associate turning points with transitions and stages of human development defined and explored by authors such as Erik Erikson, while philosophers examine turning points in terms of the human condition, and according to how death defines the meaning of our lives. Retirement or loss of a job, the end of a love affair, reaching the "golden years" (maturity) or learning that one (or a family member) has a fatal disease are all examples of challenges that often result in critical turning points throughout life. As an interdisciplinary course, we will explore turning points illustrated in works of classical literature and contemporary films, as well as through the application of various philosophical, psychological, and literary perspectives that focus on moments of self-transformation.

Full course description for Turning Points: Self-Transformation

This theory seminar is open to students with substantial knowledge gained through international travel experience and/or a global service project. In the theory seminar students examine key social, cultural, geographical and political concepts as they relate to their specific travel experience as well as the "cultural lenses" that shape their understanding of others. In addition, the nature and role of international travel will be discussed in relationship to ongoing debates about responsible tourism, global civil society and sustainable development.

Full course description for Travel and Culture Theory Seminar

This faculty designed independent study introduces the major concepts in the field of interdisciplinary studies. Students learn the historical drivers and definitions of a variety of approaches across the spectrum of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary work. Students have options to individualize their coursework to best suit to their area(s) of interest. The course emphasizes an inquiry or problem-posing approach and includes exploration of multiple professions and disciplines.

Full course description for Exploring Interdisciplinary Projects