VCU Bulletins

Interdisciplinary Studies, Bachelor of (B.I.S.) [University College]

Pamela Wiegardt, Ed.D.
(804) 827-8648

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies is an individualized and interdisciplinary program for students who cannot find a major at Virginia Commonwealth University that meets their goals. Some students pursue the B.I.S. degree to increase their chances for advancement in their jobs; some realize that the degree will provide personal or professional satisfaction; and others want to design a program that will help them change careers. Students in this undergraduate degree program are able to design an individualized degree compatible with their academic, career or personal needs. This nontraditional program is designed for students who wish to create an individualized curriculum not available in traditional majors. Interdisciplinary studies is intended for students who have clearly articulated goals that cannot be met by existing university programs. The B.I.S. provides opportunities for students to combine disciplines in unique ways.

The application process

To apply to the B.I.S. program, prospective individualized track students must:

Students apply for nontraditional, individualized and interdisciplinary courses of study by designing their own curricula. The adviser of the B.I.S. program and a faculty adviser assist students in determining the appropriateness of this program, inform students of the B.I.S. curricular guidelines and provide guidance on the application process. With the assistance of the B.I.S. adviser and a designated faculty adviser, students define their educational goals and design their interdisciplinary curricula by drawing on a variety of course offerings. Each student’s plan must define a specific focus area that combines two or more areas of study.

The proposed interdisciplinary curriculum plan will be evaluated by the adviser of the B.I.S. program, the designated faculty adviser and the dean of University College. Each application will be evaluated based on compliance with university degree requirements as well as B.I.S. curriculum and individualized program requirements. Students will be notified in writing of the dean’s decision to accept or deny admission into the program.

After admission to the program, students will follow an approved, finalized, individualized curriculum plan. The finalized curriculum plan is the official permanent record of the student’s degree requirements and this must be approved by the adviser of B.I.S, the designated faculty adviser and the dean of University College. This document records all transfer credits applicable to the B.I.S. degree and lists the courses required to complete the degree.

Individualized program requirements

Core education requirements:

A. Writing and research

6 credit hours: UNIV 111, 112 Focused Inquiry I, II – This two-semester sequence is required of all first-year students and provides the foundation of the Core Education Program. Students begin their Core shared experiences through the summer reading program with follow-through in the FI sequence as they engage in similar assignments and projects both in and out of class.

3 credit hours: A research and academic writing course that emphasizes academic argument, information retrieval, analysis and documentation. UNIV 200 may be used to fill this requirement or an equivalent course designed by the department/school.

B. Quantitative literacy

3 credit hours: a quantitative literacy course from following list of approved courses
MATH 131 Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics
MATH 141 Algebra with Applications
MATH 151 Pre-calculus Mathematics
MATH 200 Calculus with Analytic Geometry
MGMT 171 Mathematical Applications for Business
STAT 208 Statistical Thinking

C. Core general education

9 credits: Including one course from each of the following areas:

1. Natural/physical sciences

BIOL 101 Biological Concepts
BIOL/ENVS 103 Environmental Science
CHEM 110 Chemistry and Society
ENVS 201 Earth System Science
FRSC 202 Crime and Science
INSC 201 Energy!
PHYS 103 Elementary Astronomy

2. Humanities/fine arts

ENGL 215 Textual Analysis
HIST 201 The Art of Historical Detection
HUMS 250 Reading Film
MASC/INTL 151 Global Communication
PHIL 201 Critical Thinking
PHIL 250 Thinking About Thinking
RELS 108 Human Spirituality
WRLD/INTL 203 Cultural Texts and Contexts
WRLD 230 Introduction to World Cinema

3. Social/behavioral sciences

ANTH/INTL 103 Cultural Anthropology
ECON 101/INTL 102 Introduction to Political Economy
GSWS 201 Introduction to Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
HUMS 300 Great Questions of the Social Sciences
INTL 101 Human Societies and Globalization
POLI 103 U.S. Government
POLI/INTL 105 International Relations
PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology
SOCY 101 General Sociology

D. Additional general education requirements

9 credit hours: Select at least 3 courses offered by the College of Humanities and Sciences that are not required in your focus area.

E. Capstone course

3 credit hours: This requirement may be fulfilled through a service-learning project, a research project with a faculty member, a study abroad program, a senior thesis paper or a practical internship. This requirement ties learned experience in the Core Education Program with a practical application and will be completed through an upper-level course in the student’s focus area. Students may use the capstone in either of their minor areas or they can propose a unique capstone appropriate for their focus area.

Focus area

The individually designed interdisciplinary focus area requires a minimum of 36 semester credits, 24 of which must be upper-level credit. The focus area has to combine at least two areas of study. One way to accomplish this is to complete the requirement for two minors as designated in the Undergraduate Bulletin.


Maximum of 57 credits

Other requirements

The curriculum plan must also meet the following university policies and degree requirements:

Students have a variety of credit options, including CLEP examinations, credit for formal military training and credits for certain professional certifications when they do not duplicate college course work.



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Last update: 6/3/2013

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