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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Individual Studies Program

2407 Marie Mount Hall, 301-314-0023

Director: Dr. Joan Burton

The Individual Studies Program (IVSP) is a degree-granting academic program administered through the Office of Undergraduate Studies. The program enables students to design their own interdisciplinary majors leading to the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Students draw primarily from the University of Maryland's course offerings to form an academic concentration not otherwise available to them at the institution. A written proposal that defines the student's major and outlines the curriculum is required to apply to the program. Individually created student majors have recently included such titles as International Relations and Diplomacy, Peace Building and Social Change, Global Health, 3D Environment Modeling and Design, Environmental Sustainability, Education and Social Change in Latin America, Healthcare Management for Diverse Communities, Global Development, Middle Eastern Studies, Asian American Policy and Advocacy, International Relations and East Asia, Women's Health and Global Communication, Renaissance Studies, and Urban Design and Studies. The program provides a supportive community of engaged and self-motivated students, alumni, and staff.

Students must seek the guidance and approval of a Faculty Mentor prior to having their proposal reviewed by the Individual Studies Faculty Review Board. If approved, the courses agreed upon by the Faculty Review Board become the basis for the student's major requirements. These listed requirements from numerous academic departments, along with the general education requirements, are analogous in most ways to the academic requirements given to students who select from the University's traditional majors. However, each student is required to design a unique program of study and defend it in order to be a part of IVSP. 

Individual Studies students must complete a senior capstone project and are encouraged to engage in internships, research projects, independent studies, and study abroad to supplement their work in the classroom. Drawing from real-life experience as a supplement to the academic curriculum is generally encouraged. These projects often serve as a way for the students to develop academic connections among the multiple disciplines involved in their programs.

While IVSP gives students the opportunity to create a unique academic program focused on a specific area of study, using courses from multiple academic departments, it does not substitute for or replicate the educational goals of existing University programs, including the Limited Enrollment Programs (LEPs). IVSP programs may not include substantial numbers of courses from LEP departments.

Developing a successful IVSP proposal takes time and involves several meetings to review and edit the draft proposal. Interested students should contact the IVSP staff and begin the application process early in their academic career. Working closely with the IVSP staff and their prospective Faculty Mentor, students should plan to complete and submit their IVSP proposal, preferably during their sophomore year, or in their junior year, before reaching 90 credits.

To be admitted into the Individual Studies Program, the student must:

1.   Have a clearly defined academic goal that cannot be reasonably satisfied in an existing curriculum at the University of Maryland, College Park.

2.   Have at least 30 earned college credits with at least 12 credits completed at College Park.

3.   Have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA in each of their previous two semesters of college and at least a 2.0 GPA overall.

4.   Complete at least 30 additional credits beginning the term following admission to IVSP.

5.   Identify an appropriate faculty mentor, preferably tenured or tenure track, with significant undergraduate education experience related to the field of study.

6.   Complete a detailed plan of study (proposal) that is approved by their Faculty Mentor and then approved by the Individual Studies Faculty Review Board. This proposal will include:       

a. A clear statement of the central academic purpose for their major.      

b. Specific course requirements including at least 27 credits of upper-division major coursework (300- and 400-level) beyond the IVSP courses (IVSP317, IVSP318, and IVSP420).

c. The list of courses must include at least one Writing Craft course (in addition to the CORE Fundamental Studies Academic Writing and the Professional Writing requirements) selected from an approved list that is available from the Individual Studies staff.      

d. A semester-by-semester plan for the completion of their undergraduate degree within a reasonable period of time.

Following admission, students must:

1.   Earn a grade of "C-" or better in all courses required in their IVSP program of study, including IVSP420 as well as a satisfactory grade in IVSP317.
2.   Complete mandatory advising sessions with their Faculty Mentor and the IVSP staff every semester, including a review of their semester-by-semester academic plan for completion of their IVSP program.
3.   If not already completed, work towards immediate completion of the Fundamental Studies requirements.

For details and further information, visit the IVSP website at  www.ivsp.umd.edu or visit the program office at 2407 Marie Mount Hall.

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