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Associate Provost

Specialized Studies at Central Washington University

Thank you for your interest in CWU’s Specialized Studies degree program!

It is common for students considering this degree to have many questions, since the interdisciplinary educational path is so unique. You will find most answers you seek in the CWU Catalog and the FAQ section below. Once you have read through that information, please contact us for any additional clarification or to figure out how to get started.


If you are located on the east side of Washington State (Ellensburg, CWU-Moses Lake, CWU-Wenatchee, CWU-Yakima and vicinity) please contact Alena Yastchenko.
 
If you are located on the west side of WashingtonState (CWU-Lynnwood, CWU-Des Moines, CWU-Pierce and vicinity) please contact Trieu Doan.
   
Alena Yastchenko Trieu Doan


FAQs

  1. How does this degree program work?
  2. What are the admission requirements for this program?
  3. I am going to be applying for this degree program when I transfer to CWU after completing my DTA Associate’s degree. Since I still have several quarters to go, are there any prerequisite courses for this program which I could take while still at the community college?
  4. What is the difference between this interdisciplinary Specialized Studies degree and a traditional major, such as, business administration, sociology or law and justice?
  5. What can I expect to learn through this degree?
  6. What type of a job (and what level of salary) could I get with this degree?
  7. Would this undergraduate degree prepare me for graduate studies? Would I be accepted to a graduate program with this degree?
  8. 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)?
  9. How do I select which courses to take?
  10. 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.)?
  11. Is this degree easier than a traditional major?
  12. Does CWU award credit for prior life learning and past work experience as a part of the Specialized Studies degree program?
  13. 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?
  14. My questions were not answered; what do I do now?

 

1. How does this degree program work?

In order to join the Specialized Studies (SPS) degree program, students must complete the Introduction to the Major (SPS 200) course. This class covers all aspects of the SPS degree program, such as career planning, creating individual learning objectives and designing your course of study, choosing minors, receiving credits for work experience, and many more.  In this class, the instructor will answer each and every question you may have about this degree program, as well as your specific situation in terms of projected graduation date, existing college credits, learning objectives, etc. You will also have the opportunity to officially join the SPS major.

Your course selection can include any discipline in the CWU catalog and should be based on your professional and personal goals (please see “How do I select which courses to take?”). Once you have your proposed major curriculum, you would proceed to complete those courses. Adjustments may be made with advisor’s approval. At the end of your program, during the last quarter at CWU, you would take the End of Major Assessment Course (SPS 487). In this class, you would demonstrate the accomplishment of your individual learning goals and your readiness for transition to a career or graduate program by compiling a comprehensive portfolio.

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2. What are the admission requirements for this program?

In order to be admitted to the SPS major, students must

  • be in academic good standing at CWU (not on academic warning or probation), and
  • have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.25.

It is often possible for students to begin working on their SPS degree before they met the above admissions criteria. Please do not hesitate to contact the advisor for this program if you want to explore this option.

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3. I am going to be applying for this degree program when I transfer to CWU after completing my DTA Associate’s degree. Since I still have several quarters to go, are there any prerequisite courses for this program which I could take while still at the community college?

There are no specific courses which are prerequisites for this program. That being said, if you already have a good idea about the disciplines you would be including in your degree curriculum, based on your chosen future profession, it would benefit you to take as many 100- and 200-level courses in these disciplines as are allowed under your Associate's degree parameters. At the very least, you would want to take the intro courses to these disciplines. For example, if you know you will be taking several nutrition courses, I recommend taking at least the Introduction to Human Nutrition course at the community college.

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4. What is the difference between this interdisciplinary Specialized Studies degree and a traditional major, such as, business administration, sociology or law and justice?

The Specialized 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 SPS 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.

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5. What can I expect to learn through this degree?

The overarching learning goals for the Specialized 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.

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6. What type of a job (and what level of salary) could I get with this degree?

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.

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7. Would this undergraduate degree prepare me for graduate studies? Would I be accepted to a graduate program with this degree?

Yes and yes! Because the SPS program allows for maximum individualization of your studies, you can specifically prepare yourself for the graduate program you intend to enter. Many former students have reported to us being better equipped than their peers with traditional degrees to succeed in graduate school.

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8. 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 SPS major with a minor in that area, e.g., cyber security.

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9. How do I select which courses to take?

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 SPS 200—Introduction to Specialized Studies course, during which your academic advisor would guide you through this process.

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10. 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.)?

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, Specialized 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.

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11. Is this degree easier than a traditional major?

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.

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12. Does CWU award credit for prior life learning and past work experience as a part of the Specialized Studies degree program?

We currently do not have a mechanism for translating prior life and work experience into academic credits. We do, however, offer students an option to earn a substantial number of credits toward their degree through internships/job shadows/on-the-job experiences.

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13. 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?

Yes.  You will have one or more faculty liaisons and an Specialized Studies academic advisor, whom you will meet during the Introduction to Specialized Studies course and who would be available to guide you for the rest of your tenure in this major.

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14. My questions were not answered; what do I do now?

For any additional questions, if you are located on the east side of Washington State, please contact Alena Yastchenko at yastchenkoa@cwu.edu. If you are located on the west side of Washington State, please contact Trieu Doan at doank@cwu.edu .

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Contact Information
_________________________________
Alena Yastchenko, MS
Program Director
Central Washington University - Yakima
PO Box 22520, Yakima, WA 98907
Phone:(509) 963-3706
e-mail:  yastchenkoa@cwu.edu  
Trieu Doan, MS
Program Advisor
Central Washington University - Lynnwood
Snoqualmie Hall, 20000 68th Avenue West
Lynnwood, WA 98036
Phone:(425) 640-1574x3888
e-mail: doank@cwu.edu