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Is the Bachelor of Individualized Study (BIS) a valid, recognized degree?

This is probably the most-asked question about our program. The BIS is a valid bachelors degree from an accredited university. It holds the same value as any other bachelor’s degree.  Many of our graduates receive promotions, new career opportunities or continue on to graduate school.  Students in our program also have the option to earn a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts with additional required coursework.

How will an Individualized Study degree benefit me?

Graduates of the Adult Degree Program are employees of a variety of corporate, industrial and government entities. Many companies and organizations benefit from having their employees complete the program. Forty percent of the graduates from this program go on to earn a Master's degree. Many graduates have completed doctoral degrees.

How long will it take to complete my degree through the Adult Degree Program?

The average time it takes a student to complete the program is 2.75 years. However, each adult student comes to the program with differing amounts of transferring credits, experiences, and the time available to take courses. Therefore, it is impossible to state a definite length of time for degree completion. A total of 120 semester hours are needed to graduate from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree. 

How will employers and graduate schools view a nontraditional degree?

Previous surveys to our graduates gauge the acceptance of their BIS by graduate schools and employers.  The overall response has been that employers accept all bachelor's degrees as equal for employment purposes; and many students have gone on to prestigious graduate schools such as Harvard University and Washington and Lee.

What will I need to have before I begin taking classes at JMU through the Adult Degree Program?

  • Must have proficient typing/keyboarding skills
  • Must have an up-to-date computer system (desktop or laptop computers)
  • Must have a reliable Internet connection
  • Should have MicroSoft Office or equivalent for Word, PowerPoint and Excel
  • Should have a headset with microphone to participate in asynchronous classes

I regret that I did not apply myself when I was in college before. Can I still get into your program if my earlier grades were not good?

The minimum GPA for entering the Adult Degree Program is a C average, or 2.0 GPA. If your GPA is lower, you might consider taking classes at a community college to raise that GPA.  Once you have raised your GPA to the required level, you should contact us to discuss your options.

How much will it cost?

The tuition costs are based on the number of credit hours that the student needs to take to complete their degree requirements.  The State Council of Higher education for Virginia (SCHEV) describes a credit hour as a unit of measure representing an hour (50 minutes) of instruction over a 15-week period in a semester.  The credit hour is applied toward the total number of hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree. Most courses at JMU have a value of 3 credit hours each.  Details on the cost per credit can be found at the University Business Office website at

Is financial aid available?

Yes! However, since financial aid is based on complex specific guidelines, we refer all questions concerning scholarships to the Financial Aid office. You may reach them at (540) 568-7820 or

Can you change to another major?

In the Adult Degree Program, you are considered a non-traditional student at JMU.  If you are talking about following a traditional major, you would need to withdraw from the ADP and reapply to JMU as a traditional transfer student competing with all other applicants.  Keep in mind this program is not a back door to get into a traditional degree program. If you are unsure of which program you want, the best thing is to contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss this further.

What if I can't take classes one semester?

Life has a way of happening that sometimes derails even the best thought-out plans. If you find yourself unable to take classes for a semester or two because personal or financial reasons, you need to officially withdraw from James Madison University.

  1. Notify the Adult Degree Program Office.
  2. Complete the non-returning student form to the Registrar’s office.
  3. If you are receiving financial aid, contact the Financial Aid office at 540-568-7820 to ensure you complete all the necessary procedures.
  4. Contact the University Business Office, once you receive notification that your withdrawal has been processed, at 540-565-6505 to ensure your account balance is zero

The deadline to submit the non-returning student form is the third Friday of the Fall and Spring semesters. (Note: if you do not take classes during the summer term but have registered for Fall classes during the advance registration period in April, you do not have to submit the non-returning student form.)

A full, step-by-step guide, as well as a link to the non-returning student form, can be found at:

When you are ready to return to school, you will need to submit the Intent to Enroll form to the Registrar’s office by these deadlines:

  • Fall semester – July 1
  • Spring semester – November 1
  • Summer semester – April 1

The Intent to Enroll form may be submitted after these deadlines; however your return to school may be delayed until the next semester in order for the paperwork to be processed.

Additional information and the link to the Intent to Enroll form can be found at:

If you are out for three or more consecutive semesters, you must reapply to the Adult Degree Program by submitting a new admissions application and paying the application fee. Contact the ADP office at 540-568-4255 for further information on the process. 

What is the Senior Project?

The Senior Project is the capstone project in the area of the student's concentration and is completed the semester prior to graduation. The senior project experience is presented to peers and faculty members through the Senior Project Forum, which is held each fall and spring semester. It is an opportunity for the student to present the learning gained from the degree process and Senior Project.

I am interested in becoming a teacher. Can the IS program provide teacher licensure?

We have had many students go through our program to teach. The Education department is currently going through changes with the Virginia Standards of Learning for Individualized Study as an approved major; however, it must be obtained through the College of Education. Currently, students may build their concentrations to meet the requirements for teacher licensure, please contact the College of Education at (540) 568-6274.