BIS in Individualized Study

Catalog Year: 2023-2024

Banner Code: LA-BIS-INDV

The Bachelor of Individualized Study (BIS) Program in the School of Integrative Studies is an undergraduate degree completion program serving adult students since 1975. It offers students a distinctive educational opportunity that allows them to integrate previous experiences into university coursework. Recognizing that college-level learning may be acquired through varied professional, military, and personal experience, the BIS program provides mechanisms for translating experiential learning into academic credit. The program combines an interdisciplinary academic framework and a writing-intensive, research-based curriculum to provide students with individualized degree plans.

In this degree program, most students design their own individualized interdisciplinary program of study. Other students who are interested in early childhood education and who meet specific eligibility requirements can pursue a more prescribed curriculum that leads to a concentration in education studies.

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.

Honors in the Major

Highly-qualified students may apply to graduate with honors in the major. Students should apply the semester before they intend to enroll in BIS 390 The Research Process. If accepted, students must complete BIS 391 The Research Process for Honors in place of BIS 390 The Research Process, in addition to an individualized section of BIS 490 RS: Senior Project (Mason Core). To graduate with honors in the major, students must complete these two courses with a minimum GPA of 3.50, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.75, and successfully present their research during the Senior Project presentations (by earning a grade of 2.0 or better in BIS 490 RS: Senior Project (Mason Core))

Degree Requirements 

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

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

Core Courses in the Major

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

BIS 300 Understanding Interdisciplinary Studies 3
BIS 301 Adult Learner Transition 3
BIS 390 The Research Process 3
or BIS 391 The Research Process for Honors
BIS 490 RS: Senior Project (Mason Core) 4
Total Credits 13

In BIS 390 The Research Process (or BIS 391 The Research Process for Honors for students pursuing honors in the major), students develop a project proposal. An approved proposal from BIS 390 or BIS 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 research mentor and others as determined by the BIS staff.

BIS 490 is taken when no more than 6 credits remain in the concentration.

Concentrations in the Major

Students must complete one concentration of a minimum of 30 credits. Of the credits applied to the concentration, at least 15 credits must be at the 300 level or above. The total credits applied to the concentration must represent a minimum GPA of 2.00.

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. Students may incorporate into their individualized concentrations up to 15 credits of previously earned college course work or previously earned nontraditional credit from other institutions. In addition to the 4 core courses, students complete a minimum of 21 credits.

Select a minimum of 21 credits from a minimum of two disciplines 21
Four core courses 13
Total Credits 34

Concentration in Education Studies (ESTU)

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 education studies. This concentration does not earn a teaching license in early childhood education, but can lead to a graduate-level licensure program at Mason.

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 age restriction regarding admission into this BIS concentration.

Optional Self-Selected Minor

Select 15-23 credits of self-selected minor 15-23
Total Credits 15-23

Mason Core

BIS students complete a modified Mason Core program of 37 credits. 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 can be used to meet a requirement for a concentration.

English Composition
ENGH 101 Composition (Mason Core) 3
ENGH 302 Advanced Composition (Mason Core) 3
Total Credits 6
Select three courses from the following: 9
Any course from a foreign language department
Total Credits 9

Except for ENGH 100 Composition for Multilingual Writers (Mason Core), ENGH 101 Composition (Mason Core), ENGH 302 Advanced Composition (Mason Core) 


Except for PHIL 173 Logic and Critical Thinking, PHIL 376 Symbolic Logic

Social and Behavioral Science
Select three courses from the following: 9
Introduction to African American Studies (Mason Core)  
Business and Society (Mason Core)  
Conflict and Our World (Mason Core)  
Human Dimensions in Conservation (Mason Core)  
Perspectives on Achievement Motivation (Mason Core)  
Disability in American Culture (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Education: Teaching, Learning and Schools (Mason Core)  
Disability in American Culture (Mason Core)  
Stress and Well-Being (Mason Core)  
Individual and Family Development (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Health Behavior (Mason Core)  
Inquiry for Action: Facilitating Change (Mason Core)  
Law and Justice (Mason Core)  
Social Movements and Community Activism (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Childhood Studies (Mason Core)  
Issues in Family Relationships (Mason Core)  
Contemporary Youth Studies (Mason Core)  
Parent-Child Relations (Mason Core)  
The Nonprofit Sector (Mason Core)  
Environmental Justice (Mason Core)  
Poverty, Wealth and Inequality in the US (Mason Core)  
Gender Representation in Popular Culture (Mason Core)  
Social Justice and Human Rights (Mason Core)  
Food Systems and Policy (Mason Core)  
Social Justice Education (Mason Core)  
Critical Race Studies (Mason Core)  
Representations of Race (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Social Work (Mason Core)  
Spanish in the United States (Mason Core)  
Women and Tourism (Mason Core)  
Foundations for Building a Just Society (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Women and Gender Studies (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies (Mason Core)  
Total Credits 9

Except for GGS 102 Physical Geography (Mason Core) and GGS 309 Introduction to Weather and Climate

Mathematics or Statistics
Select one course from the following: 3
Quantitative Reasoning (Mason Core) (or any MATH course above 106)  
Introductory Statistics I (Mason Core)  
Total Credits 3
Information Technology
Select one from the following: 3
Work, Technology, and Society: An IT Perspective (Mason Core)  
Digital Design Studio (Mason Core)  
New Media in the Creative Arts (Mason Core)  
Computing for Scientists (Mason Core)  
Principles of Computing (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Computer Programming (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Computing for Digital Systems Engineering (Mason Core)  
Integrating Technology in PreK-6 (Mason Core)  
Research Methods and Analysis (Mason Core)  
The Digital Past (Mason Core)  
Inquiry for Action: Facilitating Change (Mason Core)  
Digital Literacy (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Computing (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Business Information Systems (Mason Core)  
Music in Computer Technology (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Computer Methods in Physics (Mason Core)  
Social Surveys and Attitude and Opinion Measurements (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Computing for Digital Systems Engineering (Mason Core)  
The following must be taken in sequence:
Statistics in Psychology  
Research Methods in Psychology  
Total Credits 3
Natural Science
Select any 3-4 credit non lab or lab course from the following: 3-4
Introduction to Biological Anthropology (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Computational and Data Sciences (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Computational and Data Sciences Lab (Mason Core)  
Conservation Theory  
Great Ideas in Science (Mason Core)  
Principles of Forensic Science (Mason Core)  
Physical Geography (Mason Core)  
Dynamic Atmosphere and Hydrosphere (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Weather and Climate  
Human Creativity: Science and Art (Mason Core)  
Sustainable World (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Conservation Studies (Mason Core)  
Science in the News (Mason Core)  
The Mysteries of Migration: Consequences for Conservation (Mason Core)  
Field-Based Work  
Conservation Biology (Mason Core)  
Conservation Behavior (Mason Core)  
Contemporary Health: Intersections in Science and Society (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Neuroscience (Mason Core)  
Introduction to Nutrition (Mason Core)  
How Science Works (Mason Core)  
Total Credits 3-4
Synthesis Course
BIS 490 RS: Senior Project (Mason Core) 4
Total Credits 4

Additional Electives

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