Thank you for your interest in CWU’s Individual Studies degree program!
As the Director, I am here to answer any questions you may have about this degree and guide you through the process of completing it, should you decide this is the right educational path for you.
Please visit the CWU catalog page to learn about the basic parameters of this degree.
I have also compiled answers to some of the most common questions prospective students have.
- Alena Yastchenko, MS email@example.com
- What is the difference between this interdisciplinary Individual Studies degree and a traditional major, such as, business administration, sociology or law and justice?
- What can I expect to learn through this degree?
- What type of a job (and what level of salary) could I get with this degree?
- Would I be at a disadvantage when applying for a job compared to people with a major in that particular discipline (for example, applying for an IT specialist position, when other applicants have degrees in computer science)?
- How do I select which courses to take?
- Would I be at a disadvantage, as opposed to the students majoring in that discipline, when attempting to enroll in a given course (e.g., in terms of prerequisites, background knowledge, etc.)?
- Is this degree easier than a traditional major?
- Would I have access to someone to help guide me through the process of obtaining this degree, since it seems like there are so many choices here, that a wrong turn is quite possible?
- My questions were not answered; what do I do now?
The Individual Studies program allows a student to select courses from a variety of disciplines in an effort to gain a broader perspective and knowledge base, compared to a traditional major. The IS program also provides students with an opportunity to customize their course of study, so that they could be better prepared for the next step in their lives, be it a graduate program or a vocation. For more details on this, please see the next three questions.
The overarching learning goals for the Individual Studies program are what colleges and employers refer to as “essential learning outcomes:” global knowledge, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, information literacy, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, social responsibility, ethical judgment, foundations and skills for lifelong learning. These are universal skills applicable in any work environment and life in general.
Beyond these basic outcomes, each student would select their individual program of study, based in their specific professional and personal goals, thus learning what he/she would like and need to learn.
This degree would apply well to a wide range of professional domains. Because the degree program is highly individualized, it is more fitting to ask you a question: “What type of a job would you like to get?” Once you make this decision, you would have the opportunity to design your educational program in a way which would help you to meet this professional aspiration.
4. Would I be at a disadvantage when applying for a job compared to people with a major in that particular discipline (for example, applying for an IT specialist position, when other applicants have degrees in computer science)?
It depends on the individual employer. By their own admission, many employers are actively seeking and prefer to hire applicants with interdisciplinary (AKA, liberal arts) education, because such degree programs typically provide students with a broad knowledge base and a number of basic skills, which are valuable in any profession (see student learning outcomes above). If you want to increase your chances of being fully competitive in a given profession, you may choose to couple your IS major with a minor in that area, e.g., cyber security.
This is probably the most critical decision when it comes to maximizing the educational value of this degree. As such, it typically consists of three steps:
Step 1. As the first step in designing their program of study, students are encouraged to determine how they are going to utilize this degree, as specifically as possible. For example, are you going to go to graduate school? If so, which program (MBA, MEd, MSW, etc.) and where are you planning to complete? Are you going to apply for a new job? In which field, at which agency, etc.? Are you going to apply for a promotion at a current job?
Step 2. Once this determination is made, the next step is to figure out which areas of knowledge you would need to gain/expand or which skills you would need to acquire in order to be successful in this new job, in this graduate program, etc. The means of obtaining such information include interviewing potential employers, interviewing a person currently doing the job which you would like to get, interviewing an advisor/director of admissions of the graduate program, etc.
Step 3. Now that you have a list of knowledge, skills, and abilities which you would like to develop in the process of obtaining this degree, peruse the CWU catalog and, from the course descriptions, determine which courses would best assist you in this endeavor.
Please keep in mind that designing an individual program of study is one of the main components of the required IS 200—Introduction to Individual Studies course, during which your academic advisor would guide you through this process.
You may run into challenges while enrolling in some courses if you are either not majoring in that discipline or you lack prerequisites. These challenges are typically easily resolved by working directly with the instructor for the course, who would be able to give you permission to enroll in their course. Additionally, Individual Studies students are strongly encouraged to connect with a faculty liaison in their predominant areas of study, who would be able to provide guidance in the curriculum design process as well as facilitate course enrollment. For example, a student majoring in Criminal Profiling would benefit from connecting with a faculty liaison in the Law and Justice and Psychology departments.
Most students would say that this degree is more challenging to obtain than a traditional major because of having to take courses from several different disciplines together with students who are majoring in those disciplines and are, therefore, better equipped with pertinent concepts, principles, and terminology. However, if you like to be challenged at every step in your education and you like to gain a specialized knowledge base, this would be a fitting degree for you.
Yes. You will have one or more faculty liaisons and an Individual Studies academic advisor, whom you will meet during the Introduction to Individual Studies course and who would be available to guide you for the rest of your tenure in this major:
Alena Yastchenko, Program Director
For any additional questions, please contact Alena Yastchenko at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alena Yastchenko, MSProgram DirectorCentral Washington University - YakimaPO Box 22520, Yakima, WA 98907
Fax: (509) 963-3703