Bachelor of Arts

Individualized Study (IS)

On this page: Major Description | Requirements | How to Apply

The Individualized Study Major

Student working in front of laptopThe Individualized Study (IS) major is designed for highly-motivated students who want to create their own course of study. Students in the IS major work closely with one or more faculty mentors in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) or other schools and programs at UW Bothell as they shape a degree suited to their intellectual and professional interests and ambitions.

Housed in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS), IS allows students to create a degree in subjects ranging from science communication and environmental education to gender studies and digital arts. The resulting student-driven curriculum includes formal and informal meetings between students and their faculty mentors, along with a portfolio-based process of self-reflection on their learning as it evolves. 

Graduating IS students develop careers and pursue graduate education in a wide variety of fields, depending on their chosen area of study. As important, they gain experience and document success in one of the crucial predictors of success in any of those fields: the ability to undertake a self-directed project in collaboration with others, to reflect critically on its development in process, and to complete it in a timely fashion. 

Back to top

Individualized Study Major Requirements


Students can't apply directly to this major, but can prepare for admission in their junior year after they have completed at least one quarter of coursework in IAS, including BIS 300. Students interested in pursuing the Individualized Study major work with a faculty member to develop a proposal. This proposal is then reviewed by a faculty committee. Degree requirements for IS vary from proposal to proposal, but they need to include the following:

Degree Requirements

40 credits
A minimum of forty credits of coursework in the approved area of study, including three 2-credit Portfolio Reflection courses (one in the first quarter of individualized study; one at the midpoint; and one in the final quarter). 

Additional 28 credits
BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry (5 credits)
BIS 499 Portfolio Capstone (3 credits)
Elective courses offered by the School of IAS (20 credits) 

TOTAL= 68 Credits

School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) Requirements & Policies

Interdisciplinary Practice & Reflection (IPR)

The IPR requirement can be completed through elective credits or it can overlap with major coursework.

Areas of Knowledge

25 credits must be completed in each Area of Knowledge.The Areas of Knowledge are: Visual, Literary and Performing Arts (VLPA), Individuals & Societies (I&S), and Natural World (NW).

Courses with more than one Area of Knowledge cannot be double-counted (they can count only once as VLPA, NW, or I&S). Courses may apply to both an Area of Knowledge requirement and the Diversity requirement, and as a requirement for the IS major.

Upper Division Credit Policy

Of the 68 credits applying to IS major requirements, a minimum of 48 credits must be completed at the Upper Division (300-400) level.

Matriculated status

Courses taken to satisfy IS major requirements must be completed in matriculated status.

Admitted prior to Autumn Quarter, 2016?

Students admitted to the IS major prior to Autumn 2016 may be eligible to complete an older set of major requirements. For more information, please check Requirement Changes Autumn 2016 page.

Back to top


Students should submit two copies of their application; one to the faculty coordinator and one to the IAS Office (UW1-360) addressed to IAS Assistant Director of Academic Services.

Students normally apply in their sophomore or junior year, and have completed at least one quarter of coursework in IAS, including BIS 300. An application consists of:

  1. A cover sheet with the signatures of the student and faculty mentor(s), and the title of the proposed Individualized Study. If the student’s proposal is approved, this title will be noted on the student’s transcript when their degree is conferred.
  2. A current transcript (official or unofficial).
  3. A Statement of Intent including:
    1. A description and rationale of the individualized course of study and its learning goals. The rationale should be 2-3 pages in length and link these learning goals to the four core IAS learning objectives. Click here to review IAS Learning Objectives.
    2. A provisional Plan of Coursework to be taken including:
      1. At least forty credits of IAS coursework.
      2. Three, 2-credit Portfolio Reflection courses (under BIS 399)
      3. BIS 499 Portfolio Capstone.
  4. A short statement of your motivations and capacities to pursue independent work, making reference to the resume and transcript as evidence of ability and/or experience.

The forty credits of IAS coursework may include independent study and internships. You may request that courses in other UW Bothell programs be included or courses elsewhere in the UW system. (The latter are subject to standard UW Bothell Final Year Residency requirements: 45 of the last 60 credits need to be completed at the UW Bothell campus.)

At the time of application at least 30 of the planned credits, plus the portfolio capstone, should be courses that you have not yet completed.

Given that it is difficult to anticipate course offerings more than a year in advance, we stress that the proposed plan is provisional, and may be revised, with the mentor’s consent, as the Individualized Study proceeds. You and your mentor are urged to build in flexibility and not to make the plan contingent on seldom-offered courses. Your faculty mentor can help you to identify courses that are likely to be offered.

Your application will be considered accepted (and thus your enrollment in the major approved) once your proposal has been approved by a committee of faculty mentors and the cover sheet signed by your faculty mentor, the IAS faculty convener for the IS major, and an IAS program advisor. Substantial revisions of the proposed course of study will also require these approvals. Depending on demand, enrollment in the IS major may be capped. 

Faculty Contact

Please contact the IS Faculty Coordinator if you have any questions, concerns or ideas about the Individualized Study major. To declare the IS major, please contact an academic advisor at

Back to top