About BIS


The Bachelor of Individualized Studies (BIS) degree program at Minot State University offers students an opportunity to design their own major. This “design-your-own major” program is intended for highly motivated students whose academic needs and career goals cannot be adequately met through existing MSU majors and minors. Students pursuing the BIS degree develop an Academic Plan that integrates courses selected largely from two or three disciplines. It is a thoughtfully crafted academic program in which each course serves some clear role in the overall program, contributing to the goals and learning needs of the student.

Getting Started

Ideally, students design their major within their first year or two at MSU. Things begin informally with development of an idea about disciplines that can be combined to provide the background needed for a particular career or graduate study––background that existing programs cannot provide. Developing a general plan can involve gathering information from a number of sources, including:

  • graduate school programs––required and recommended background for admission
  • professional societies
  • prospective employers
  • professionals working in the same or similar career
  • faculty members in the disciplines that would be combined

The Career Services office may also be able to provide students with relevant information, or lead students to sources of helpful information.

Summary of the BIS Program

Pursuit of the BIS degree formally begins with the first course in the Individualized Studies Core, IDS 240 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. During this course, students identify appropriate faculty advisors and work with them and the IDS 240 instructor to develop their Academic Plan proposal. At the end of the course, the proposal is submitted to the Interdisciplinary Studies Advisory Council for approval. Once approved, students begin to work on carrying out their plan. In addition to their plan-specific courses, BIS students complete an interdisciplinary project that draws upon their disciplines of interest. The project is completed during IDS 360 Directed Project, under the direction of the student’s advisors. During IDS 480 Senior Capstone, the third and final course in the Individualized Studies Core, students present their project results.

There are some specific requirements and restrictions that should be kept in mind when developing an Academic Plan.

  • Student program should consist of the Individualized Studies Core (6 cr min) and at least 56 credits in an Academic Plan drawn largely from two or three disciplines (focus areas)
  • should include at least 22 cr each from two disciplines or 15 cr each from three disciplines (exceptions to this are possible if thoroughly justified in the proposal)
  • Student’s proposal must explain in detail why their goals cannot be met through existing MSU programs – proposed plans that are very close to meeting existing major/minor requirements will not be approved.
  • Necessary prerequisite courses must be included in the program or among student’s General Education courses (or student must obtain a written waiver).
  • BIS Academic Plan must include at least 36 upper-level (300- and 400-level) credits excluding IDS 360 and IDS 480.
  • BIS Academic Plan may not include courses used to meet the General Education Required Core or Foundational Content requirements.
  • BIS Academic Plan may include courses used to meet the General Education Developmental Content requirements.
  • Students earning the BIS degree may not earn another degree/major, minor, or concentration that overlap(s) with coursework in their BIS Academic Plan.
  • At least 30 credits should be coursework not yet completed (after term in which proposal is approved).