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Individualized and Interdisciplinary Studies (MA/MS)

About The Program

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The College of Individualized Studies offers a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS) in Individualized Studies. The MA/MS is a student-centered, individualized, interdisciplinary graduate program designed for individuals who have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree and are looking to develop a graduate program that is tailored to meet their specific educational goals through multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, or intradisciplinary approaches.

  • Multidisciplinary: Coursework is in more than one discipline in unrelated areas.
  • Interdisciplinary: Coursework is in more than one discipline, but coursework is tied thematically (blending two distinct subject areas that extend across two or more colleges).
  • Intradisciplinary: Coursework is all within the same discipline. As a master’s student in the College of Individualized Studies, you would design your degree plan around an educational goal statement and self-designing 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.

Why Choose Individualized Graduate Study?

Students pursue graduate degrees for many reasons, such as gaining a different or better position, qualifying for a promotion, entering a new career path, or personal enrichment and development. In the Individualized Studies graduate program, students can shape their study to meet their own specific personal and professional educational needs.

Admitted students start with the IDST 600 Planning and Research course and then move through a series of courses or other learning strategies, offered through other graduate programs at the university, to explore specific topics and issues drawn from several disciplines. Students’ programs culminate in the IDST 699 Individualized Studies Capstone course in which they create major research/project that align with their personal educational goals and build on the coursework they have completed.

The master’s degree awarded in Individualized Studies will be a MA or MS, depending on a student’s focus area. This distinction can be determined through student and faculty consultations in the IDST 600 course, though a final decision may be made at a later time.

Jobs for those with majors or a master’s degree in Individualized Studies are widespread, with career opportunities limited only by your creativity, and your self-designed curriculum’s area of focus.


Transfer Credits: Students can apply up to 8 transfer credits toward their plan, with the approval of the Graduate Program Director. Transfer credits must have been earned at another accredited institution and not be part of any other completed degree program. Current students enrolled in graduate coursework at Metro State may transfer up to 12 graduate credits. Exceptions may be made for certificates and minors, to allow up to 16 credits to be transferred (such exceptions will be based solely upon the CIS Admissions Committee’s review and approval).

Part-Time Graduate Studies: This program is designed for part-time students, including those who are employed full-time and might take just one graduate course per semester. Most classes meet once a week on a weekday evening.

Academic Advising: Advising begins with the instructor in IDST 600 Research and Planning, where students articulate their educational objectives. Students will be assigned a faculty advisor who will guide them toward appropriate course selection and also help arrange creative learning strategies, including customized independent studies and internships.

Is the Program for Me?

There is an opportunity within the Individualized Studies master’s program to design a course of study and Capstone Project/Research that spans disciplines, subject areas, and professional studies. One student might design a research-based capstone that studies women and micro-loans, while another student might design a creative project that combines video production with a marketing plan. Others may choose to use mapping technology to look into links between property taxes, school funding, and student achievement. A student interested in the environment might develop a new way to teach school children about environmental preservation or study ways to reduce ocean pollution. Students may even ask whether zip codes can help predict health outcomes. The options are truly bound only by each student’s interests and creativity!

The scope and design of a student’s study plan will start to be developed in the core IDST 600 course, will be carried out in the various courses and learning strategies selected, and will culminate in the capstone project.

Ready to join the master’s in Individualized Studies program?

Metro State, established in 1971, is a member of the Minnesota State higher education system. The university provides a breadth of opportunities for graduate students in the Individualized Studies program. As part of a diverse, urban campus experience, our award-winning faculty and staff will help you achieve your academic, professional, and personal goals.

How to enroll

Program eligibility requirements

Applicants must demonstrate evidence of readiness for graduate study including an earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution (or equivalent) with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).

Applicants with competence-based transcripts and no calculated GPA will be considered.

Exceptions to this GPA standard may be made based solely upon the CIS Admissions Committee’s recognition of special circumstances for the lower GPA, and the applicant’s clear demonstration of additional compensatory strengths. In case of a GPA lower than 3.0, applicants may submit a supplement letter along with the admissions essay addressing the reasons for the lower GPA and their plan to be successful in graduate school.

Admission is not guaranteed.

Application instructions

Metro State University is participating in the common application for graduate programs (GradCAS). Applications are only accepted via the CAS website.

CAS steps

  1. Select the term for which you are seeking admission (below), and navigate to the CAS website. Open applications include:
  2. Create or log in to your account and select the Individualized and Interdisciplinary Studies (MA/MS) program.
  3. Carefully review all instructions and complete all four sections of the application.

Specific application requirements for individual programs can be found on each program page in CAS. Carefully read the instructions that appear throughout the application pages. You can only submit your application once. If you need to update information you have submitted, please notify

Application fee

A nonrefundable $38 fee is required for each application.
Applications will not be processed until this fee is received.

Active-duty military, veterans, and Metro State alumni can receive an application fee waiver. Contact

Courses and Requirements


Transfer Credits

  • Students outside of Metropolitan State University can transfer up to 8 graduate credits earned from an accredited institution.
  • Current students enrolled in graduate coursework at Metropolitan State University may transfer up to 12 graduate credits. Exceptions may be made for certificates and minors, to allow up to 16 credits to be transferred (such exceptions will be based solely upon the CIS Admissions Committee’s review and approvals).

Academic Standing

To remain in good standing and to be qualified for graduation, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. Grades below C do not apply to program requirements, but are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.

Appeal of Unsatisfactory Academic Progress Removals from the Program

Students suspended from the program for unsatisfactory academic progress, may appeal the suspension to the College of Individualized Studies dean. The appeal must be in writing and it must provide specific grounds for the appeal. The appeal to the dean is due within 30 days of receiving confirmation of suspension from the program; appeals received after 30 days will not be considered.

Reactivating into the CIS MA/MS Program

Should a student who is admitted to the CIS graduate program not be able to start the program and register for courses, they will be able to retain their accepted status for up to a year. Students in this situation should consult with the Graduate Program Director. Students who have been admitted but do not register for courses for more than a year without consulting with the Graduate Program Director will be dropped from active admitted status and will need to reapply to the program.

Similarly, students who started the program and are in good academic standing but have not registered for courses for three calendar years, must reapply to the program. If readmitted, students are required to satisfy the degree requirements listed in the catalog at the time of readmission, if those requirements differ from the catalog requirements listed at the time of original admission.

Time to completion

Students have five years from the first semester of graduate study to complete their degree program requirements. An extension of the time limit may be requested by writing to the Graduate Program Director. Such requests must be received prior to the expiration of the time limit. Requests for extensions should include:

  • the reason(s) for requesting the extension,
  • a summary of the student's plan to finish graduation requirements, and
  • a specific date for the extension to expire.

Extension decisions are made by the Graduate Admissions Committee, are not automatic, and cannot be appealed.

Please read the CIS MA/MS Handbook for additional important details.

Program Requirements (32 credits)

In this course students will explore various research methods and methodologies, approaches, and ethical considerations in their research or creative projects. Among others, students are expected to engage with and identify, synthesize and evaluate relevant scholarly works. As such, the course will also emphasize the study and research skills and methods needed to conduct a final research and/or creative project. Further, students are expected to develop a focus that will provide direction and organization for their educational plans. Students will investigate courses offered throughout Metro State to shape that focus and tentatively outline final projects that will demonstrate their multidisciplinary learning. The course will introduce students to the nature of individualized study and the significance of interdisciplinary studies. During this course students will also consult with their advisor and instructor to decide whether they will pursue a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of…

Full course description for Research and Planning

Admitted students begin by taking IDST 600 Research and Planning, which serves as an introduction to the program and to interdisciplinary thinking, learning and research. One of the course outcomes is an individualized plan of study, designed to address each student’s educational objectives within the framework of graduate program resources. Plans of study usually include student-directed learning strategies such as independent study and prior learning assessment.

+ Focus Area

12-16 credits. Students work with faculty advisors to design a program with focus on coursework and research that integrates multiple disciplines, drawing from the arts, sciences, and professional studies. Designations of either MA or MS will reflect the composition of each student's plan and capstone project.

+ Approved Graduate Elective Credits (Outside the Focus Area)

8-12 credits. To achieve an inter-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, or trans-disciplinary plan of study, students must complement their focus area with 8-12 credits in subject areas that are different from but related to the focus area.

+ Capstone

4 credits. Capstones are typically completed as a four-credit student-designed independent study (SDIS) project, with students working one-on-one with a faculty member with expertise in the capstone area. To register for the Capstone SDIS, students must consult with both their faculty advisor in CIS as well as the subject-matter expert who will evaluate the project to ensure it meets the overall goals of their graduate degree plan.