Individualized Study
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

FAQs from Prospective Students

Why should I consider the Bachelor of Individualized Study (BIS) degree program?

The BIS degree program began in 1975 and is designed to meet the needs of the adult learner. Personal fulfillment, job/career advancement, a career change and more have been the motivating factors for individuals returning to complete their bachelor’s degrees.  Part-time or full-time study, evening courses, excellent faculty, a challenging curriculum, individual faculty advising, small class size, affordable tuition, and a GMU degree – these are just some of the reasons why students enroll in the BIS program. 

How will employers and graduate schools view a non-traditional degree?

BIS alumni have all continued on to graduate degree programs, job promotions, published books, started businesses and more!  For more information on our alumni, how they found their way to BIS and what they’re doing now, visit our Meet an Alum page.

How much will it cost?

The tuition cost is based on the number of credit hours that the student takes each semester. Details can be found at the Student Accounts website.

Is there financial aid available?

Yes.  Financial Aid information and application steps can be found on the Office of Student Financial Aid website.

Where and when are BIS classes held?

BIS core classes are taught at George Mason University in Fairfax, however depending on the coursework included in a student’s individual concentration, courses may be held at any of Mason’s four (4) campuses.  BIS core classes are typically offered one night per week in the evenings.  The schedules for a student’s individual concentration courses are determined by the respective departments, not by the BIS department.  

Can I take classes at another college or university to fulfill my BIS/GMU requirements?

Yes, however once you have enrolled at George Mason, you need permission from the Dean’s office to take courses elsewhere and have them transferred back to the university.  George Mason is part of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area (CUWMA) which allows George Mason students to take a limited number of courses at CUWMA member institutions, pay the GMU tuition rate, and have the course(s) count toward their degree program.

How long does it take to complete the degree?

On average it takes a student 2-3 years to complete the BIS program. However, each student comes to the program with differing amounts of transfer credits, experiences, and the time available to take courses.  Therefore it is impossible to state a definite length of time for degree completion.  The opportunity to take courses in the fall and spring semesters, as well as during the summer sessions have lead students to degree completion more quickly.  A total of 120 semester hours is needed to graduate from George Mason University, 45 of which must be in the upper division (300-400 level). A minimum of 30 hours must be taken at George Mason University. 

Does BIS award transfer credit for life/work experience or CLEP examinations?

Yes.  The BIS program is able to award transfer credit for College Level Examination Program (CLEP), military training, government and employer trainings, certifications, and life experience/experiential credit.  Once you’ve attended an information session, you may schedule an appointment with an academic advisor to discuss your background and conduct a preliminary review of your transcripts.

How do I schedule an appointment to talk about admission to the program?

Prior to making an appointment with an academic advisor, all prospective students must attend one of our weekly BIS information sessions (no RSVP is required).  After attending a session, you may contact the department Monday-Friday, between 8:30am-5:00pm, to schedule an appointment.  You may also contact us via email at bis@gmu.edu.

When is the application deadline?

Applying to the BIS program is a two step process. 

  1. First, you must apply as an undergraduate transfer student to George Mason via the online application.
  2. Second, you must submit a BIS program application.

Although we accept the BIS program application on a rolling basis throughout the year, we strongly encourage you to submit your BIS program application as soon as possible following your submission of the online university application.  University application deadlines can be found on the Office of Admissions website.

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