Individualized Study
College of Humanities and Social Sciences


BIS in Individualized Study

Students pursuing a bachelor of individualized study must meet the baccalaureate degree requirements for all undergraduates: they need to complete 120 credits with 45 credits at or above the 300 level and at least 30 credits at Mason.

This undergraduate program offers students the option of applying to an accelerated master's program in applied information technology or telecommunications.  See each listing for specific requirements.

For policies governing all undergraduate degrees, see the Academic Policies section of the catalog.

Credit for Nontraditional Modes of Learning

The BIS program allows students to receive college credit for learning acquired through a variety of nontraditional methods indicated below. The maximum allowable credits are indicated for each category.

1. Nationally recognized exam programs such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) when the particular exam has been approved for Mason Credit: See CLEP Examination for an approved list. A maximum of 45 credits can be earned through exams. After matriculation, students are limited to taking and applying credits for the CLEP exam in "Information Systems and Computer Applications". Students with a qualifying score on this exam will be awarded credit for IT 103T. Students receiving credit for IT 103T must still meet the university information technology ethics requirement (see Mason Core section of the catalog). Credit for other CLEP exams awarded after matriculation may not be applied.

2. Certain university approved industry, government, or military training credits if such credits are indexed and recommended as college-level credit by the American Council on Education (ACE). To be eligible for Mason credit, training and course specifics must exactly match what is in the ACE guide and be approved for Mason credit. The specific credits must also be approved by the program director and the dean. A maximum of 45 credits can be earned through ACE-approved training. A maximum of 60 total combined credits can be accepted for exams and ACE-approved training. For example, if 45 credits are accepted by ACE-approved training, a maximum of 15 credits can be accepted for exams. Students may not take these courses for credit once they have matriculated at Mason.

3. Experiential learning demonstrated by portfolios subject to approval by the program director and the dean (30 maximum credits).

4. College-level credit earned at institutions accredited by bodies other than recognized regional accrediting organizations subject to approval by the program director and the dean. These credits can only be considered if the institution is listed in Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education published by ACE (30 maximum credits) and only if they are taken before the student mariculates at Mason.

Students may not pursue credit for options 1, 2, and 4 once they have matriculated at Mason. They must complete the third option within their first 30 credits after matriculation. Although the types of credit noted above may be applied to a bachelor of individualized study degree, if a BIS student changes majors, credit awarded in these ways cannot be used toward other majors. These nontraditional credits are not transferable to other degree programs at Mason.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements (Catalog Year 2016-2017)

Students pursuing a bachelor of individualized study degree must complete four required courses and one concentration.

BIS students may elect to take a minor in addition to their BIS concentration. 15 credits of the minor must be applied uniquely to the minor and not to the concentration. For students pursuing the concentration in early childhood studies, the minor is required for the degree.

Mason Core (36 credits)

Like all students, BIS students complete Mason Core requirements. Students in the BIS program meet a modified Mason Core program of 36 credits. Most students complete the Mason Core requirements below.

Students pursuing the concentration in early childhood education studies meet Mason Core requirements as specified in the advising agreement between NVCC and Mason: they complete 18 credits through NVCC coursework (lower level written communication [ENGH 101], oral communication [COMM 100], 6 credits of social sciences, MATH or STAT, and information technology) and 18-19 credits at Mason (upper level written communication [ENGH 302], 3 or 4 credits of natural science, 6 credits of humanities [including 3 credits of arts], 3 credits of social science, and 3 credits in synthesis [BIS 490]).  The Mason Core requirements may include courses not listed here; consult the BIS program for more information.

Courses used to meet the Mason Core requirements cannot be used to meet a requirement for a concentration.

Two courses (6 credits) of English composition

ENGH 101 - Composition Credits: 3

ENGH 302 - Advanced Composition Credits: 3

Three courses (9 credits) in humanities

  • Any ARTH course
  • Any AVT course
  • ANY COMM course
  • Any DANC course
  • Any ENGH course except for ENGH 100, 101, 302
  • Any MUSI course
  • Any PHIL course except for PHIL 173, 376
  • Any RELI course
  • Any THR course
  • Any course from a foreign language department

Three courses (9 credits) in social and behavioral science

One course (3 credits) in mathematics or statistics chosen from:

MATH 106 - Quantitative Reasoning Credits: 3 or any MATH course above 106 

STAT 250 - Introductory Statistics I Credits: 3

3 credits in information technology

IT 104 - Introduction to Computing Credits: 3 or any course that fulfills the Mason Core IT proficiency requirement (all components including ethics)

3-4 credits in a natural science

This can be fulfilled by any 3-4 credit lab or non lab course.

One synthesis course (3 credits)

BIS 490 - RS: Senior Project Credits: 3

Four core courses (10 credits)

Students must complete each of the four core courses with a minimum grade of 2.00.

In BIS 390 (or 391 for students pursuing honors in the major), students develop a project proposal. An approved proposal from BIS 390 or 391 is a prerequisite to enroll in BIS 490.

In BIS 490, students complete a senior capstone project that varies according to the individual program of study. It may be an investigative or creative project, and must be appropriate to the student's interdisciplinary concentration. This course requires significant writing and fulfills the Mason Core synthesis requirement. It is a research intensive course designated RS by OSCAR. The project is evaluated by the BIS 490 instructor in consultation with the student's faculty mentor and others as determined by the BIS director.

BIS 490 and BIS 491 are taken concurrently when no more than 6 credits remain in the concentration.

The core courses are as follows:

BIS 300 - Understanding Interdisciplinary Studies Credits: 3

BIS 390 - The Research Process or BIS 391 - The Research Process for Honors Credits: 3

BIS 490 - RS: Senior Project Credits: 3

BIS 491 - Senior Project Presentation Credits: 1

One concentration (24-42 credits)

Students must complete one concentration of 24-42 credits. Of the credits applied to the concentration, at least 15 credits must be at the 300 level or above and a maximum of 6 credits can have grades of C- or D (grades below 2.00). The total credits applied to the concentration must represent a minimum GPA of 2.00.

Courses applied to a concentration may not also be used to fulfill Mason Core requirements.

▲Individualized Concentration (IND)

Students may do an individualized concentration to meet their own academic needs and interests. The concentration is developed in close consultation with BIS staff and a faculty mentor.  Students may incorporate into their individualized concentrations up to 9 credits of previously earned college course work or previously earned nontraditional credit from other institutions. In addition to the 4 core courses, students complete between 24 and 36 credits, depending on the topic and the student's preparation.

24 to 36 credits from a minimum of two disciplines

Students are encouraged to include UNIV 304 - Bachelor Individualized Studies Transfer Transition in the concentration. Students are also encouraged to include BIS 489 - Directed Readings and Research and complete it before taking BIS 490 - RS: Senior Project.

Total: 24-36 credits

▲ Concentration in Early Childhood Education Studies (ECES)

This concentration offers students holding a Northern Virginia Community College associate's degree in applied science in early childhood development the opportunity to obtain a BIS in early childhood education studies and a minor in business. This concentration does not lead to teacher licensure in early childhood education. To receive this concentration, students complete a minimum of 34 credits beyond the associate's degree in addition to the four core BIS courses, electives, and Mason Core requirements needed to reach at least 120 credits.

Admission Requirements
Students are eligible for this concentration if they have an associate's degree in applied science in early childhood development. Unlike the individualized concentration, there is no restriction regarding number of years since high school graduation for admission into this BIS concentration.

Interdisciplinary courses (19 credits)

One course (3 credits) in human growth and development

EDUC 302 - Human Growth and Development Credits: 3

One course (3 credits) focused on diverse young learners chosen from:

ECED 402 - Foundations of Language and Literacy for Diverse Young Learners Credits: 3

ECED 403 - Inclusive Curriculum for Young Learners: Planning Instruction and Guidance Credits: 3

One course (3 credits) in linguistic development of infants and toddlers chosen from:

ECED 422 - Developing Language, Literacy, and Communication of Diverse Young Learners Credits: 3

ECED 423 - Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Collaborative and Consultative Approaches Credits: 3

One course (3-4 credits) in research methods chosen from

GOVT 300 - Research Methods and Analysis Credits: 4

SOCI 303 - Methods and Logic of Inquiry Credits: 3

6 credits of electives at the 300-400-level 

Students choose 6 credits of electives relevant to the concentration in consultation with their faculty mentor.

Completion of self-selected minor (15-23 credits)

Concentration Total: 34 - 42 credits

Total: 70-88 credits


Any remaining credits may be completed with elective courses to bring the degree total to 120.

Degree Total: Minimum 120 credits

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