Program Details

Our Adult Degree Program (ADP) is an undergraduate degree completion program that allows you to create a personalized interdisciplinary concentration or focus of study to meet your educational and career objectives. You can complete your major in Individualized Study through online courses and/or courses on our main campus. The Individualized Study major also offers you the opportunity to integrate other college-level learning such as professional or military experiences into the completion of your degree.

You have the option to earn a:

  • Bachelor of Individualized Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Individualized Studies

Your Academic Program Plan

As an Individualized Study major, you’ll work with ADP staff, advisors, and faculty to develop a personalized Academic Program Plan that focuses on your unique skills, interests, and career goals. Your program plan will incorporate JMU’s general education requirements and courses from two or more subject areas. Once created, you’ll work through your plan by taking courses each term until graduation.

As an incoming ADP student, you are automatically enrolled in IS 200: Orientation to Individualized Study. This course is a 3-credit class that prepares you for college-level learning at James Madison and guides you through the process of building your Academic Program Plan.

Course Tracks

Our tracks are a structured way of developing your personalized program plan. Each track offers a strong foundation in a subject area such as entrepreneurship, human resource development, or autism spectrum disorder. You can combine two or three tracks to create your Individualized Study major, and you can blend online and face-to-face classes if you are able to commute to campus. Click here for more information about our tracks and a list of those currently available.

Degree completion requirements

ADP students must complete required General Education courses as well as concentration-based courses. Depending on the particular courses you choose, you will earn one of three degrees:

Bachelor of Individualized Studies

To earn a Bachelor of Individualized Studies, you must complete the following course requirements:

  • Complete IS 200: Orientation to Individualized Study (3 credits) discussed above.
  • General Education: Social/Behavioral Sciences (6 credits), Humanities (6 credits), Natural Science (6 credits), Written Communication (6 credits), Oral Communication (3 credits), Mathematics (3 credits), U.S. History (4 credits), GeBneral Education Electives (7 credits).
  • Individualized Studies Concentration: The Concentration consists of courses from two or more areas of study offered by JMU, for example, Communication and Business Technology (minimum of 30 credits. At least 24 credits must be taken at the 300 level or higher).
  • Electives: You’ll need 120 total credits to graduate, including transfer credits and credits earned at James Madison. You may take additional electives to reach the 120 credits. Here are examples.
  • Complete IS 498 Senior Research Project (3 or 6 credits) prior to graduating. You can learn more about this project here.

Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies, you must complete the requirements for the Bachelor of Individualized Studies and the following additional credits:

  • Philosophy (3 credits) and Foreign Language (6 credits of 200-level or higher)

Bachelor of Science in Individualized Studies

To earn a Bachelor of Science in Individualized Studies, you must complete the requirements for the Bachelor of Individualized Studies and as the following additional credits:

  • Natural Science (3 credits) and Mathematics (3 credits)

Non-Traditional Ways of Earning Credit

We offer several non-traditional ways to earn credit toward your degree, including:

  • Portfolios of Prior Learning Experience
  • College Board Examination Program
  • Departmental Reviews
  • Independent Study and Sponsored Learning
  • Transfer Credit

Click here for more details about these options or contact an admissions advisor with any questions you may have!

Course tracks

How our tracks work

ADP online tracks are clustered courses that satisfy concentration requirements. Tracks may be paired together or combined with face-to-face courses offered on campus. Academic units at JMU developed course content within the tracks to deliver a strong foundation for each area of discipline. Track structure and content vary based on the specific subject matter; however, all courses are offered online to provide added flexibility.

Combine two or three tracks based on your professional, educational, or personal goals. For example:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders + Professional and Workplace Communication
  • Business Technology + Entrepreneurship + Human Resource Development
  • Entrepreneurship + Human Resource Development
  • Human Resource Development + Business Technology
  • Professional and Workplace Communication + Human Resource Development
Autism Spectrum Disorder - 9 Credits

The Autism Spectrum Disorders track was developed specifically for professionals working with and providing support for children and adults with Autism. This track is based on current research in the field of Autism studies and combines applied theory, ethics, and the application of research in various educational and support settings. 

This is a valuable track if you are interested or currently employed in counseling, social work, speech pathology, various fields of therapy, teaching, or program management in any area that provides services to individuals on the Autism spectrum.

This track pairs well with the Professional and Workplace Communication and the Human Resource Development tracks.

Requirements: Courses must be taken in the order listed.

EXED 416: Overview and Assessment of Autism Disorders | 3 credits | Offered fall

This course is designed to provide an overview of the current issues involving working with children who have been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder. Areas covered in-depth will include learning characteristics, current research and factors involved with causation, assessment and diagnosis. We will discuss positive behavioral supports; social skills development; sensory processing, motor planning and sensory integration; and communication and language development as these will be covered in much greater depth in other courses. A range of institutional methodologies and techniques will be emphasized throughout the course.

EXED 417: Communication, Language, and Sensory Issues in ASD | 3 credits | Offered fall

This course is designed to provide an in-depth study of the current issues involved in working with children who have been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder. We will discuss only briefly learning characteristics, current research and factors involved with causation, assessment and diagnosis, and positive behavioral supports to set the stage. The bulk of our time will be spent exploring social skills development; sensory processing, motor planning and sensory integration; and communication and language development. We will consider a range of institutional methodologies and techniques for providing instruction, support and generalization of skills in these areas.

EXED 418: Challenging Behaviors, Positive Behavioral Supports, Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans | 3 credits | Offered spring

This course is designed to provide an in-depth look at the behavioral challenges those with a disability in the autism spectrum might face and display. Areas addressed will include behavioral characteristics, current research and factors related to behavioral challenges in this population, positive behavioral supports, Functional Behavioral Plan Development, implementation and monitoring. We will cover data collection in relation to assessment and monitoring behaviors We will review social skills development; sensory processing, motor planning and sensory integration; and communication and language development as these are covered in much greater depth in other courses. A range of institutional methodologies and techniques will be emphasized throughout the course.

Business Technology - 15 Credits

Master the basics of the computer systems that support businesses and watch your career thrive. This track introduces you to database design and analysis, web systems development, and computer systems security issues and solutions.

This track pairs well with the Human Resource Development and Entrepreneurship tracks.

Requirements: CIS 204 or the equivalent is the prerequisite. Courses may be taken in any order after successful completion of the prerequisite.

CIS 204: Computer Information Systems for Non-Business Majors | 3 credits | Offered fall

An introduction to computer-based information systems. Emphasis is placed on the role of computers in business and society, computer hardware and software, design and implementation of information systems, computer ethics, and collaboration using computers. Students will design and create databases. Not open to business majors or minors.

CIS 311: Analyzing Data in Organizations | 3 credits | Offered summer

This course provides an overview of how to work with databases and other data sources in order to access relevant information in a timely and user-friendly manner. It includes discussions of a variety of data representation types, including relational databases, XML documents, and cloud data. Students learn essential database concepts and gain practical experience in querying, reporting, and analyzing data.

CIS 312: Systems Planning and Analysis | 3 credits | Offered summer

Information systems couple both technical (hardware, software, database, telecom) and socio-organizational (business processes, ethics, knowledge, users, developers) subsystems to create rich and available information for the purpose of optimizing business decisions. This course covers the techniques and common tools employed for planning and analyzing these systems. Emphasis will be placed on the system development life cycle, planning and analysis tools, and professional business writing.

CIS 498: Special Topics – Network Security | 3 credits | Offered spring

This course provides students with a technical grounding in network attack concepts and technologies that are critical to defensive practices, including, but not limited to, penetration testing environments, online threats, and data security. Using hands-on labs and real world exercises, the course examines popular hacking tools such as key logger and phishing attack, evaluates cyber security context, and analyzes incident response solutions. Due to the realness and practicality of this course, students are able to relate acquired knowledge to daily activities. Leading research and industrial reports pointed out that the demand for IT security professionals has surged significantly in the past several years, making it imperative to keep our students across the Commonwealth abreast of such trends.

CIS 498: Special Topics – Designing Web Systems | 3 credits | Offered spring

This course is an introduction to the design and development of web pages and web sites. Major topics to be covered include: Hypertext Markup Language (HTML5), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the principles of design for user experience, responsive design, and JavaScript.

Prerequisite:  CIS 204 or equivalent knowledge (instructor permission is needed). Not open to CIS majors or minors.

Entrepreneurship - 9 Credits

The Entrepreneurship track is designed to introduce students to the knowledge, skills, and approach necessary for creating successful new ventures. Learn the basics of management functions and the formulation, financing, and operation of starting and maintaining a business.

This track pairs well with the Business Technology and Human Resource Development tracks.

Requirements: Courses must be taken in the order listed.

MGT 305: Management and Organizational Behavior | 3 credits | Offered spring

A study of management functions, decision processes and human behavior in business organizations. Ethical and political considerations are addressed, as are behavioral science research and its applicability to understanding organizational behavior.

MGT 405: Special Topics – Introduction to Entrepreneurship | 3 credits | Offered summer

A survey of the field of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs and their significance in the American free enterprise system. Emphasis will be on exploring the theoretical framework of the entrepreneurship process and the entrepreneurial personality.

MGT 405: Special Topics – Designing Your Business Venture | 3 credits | Offered summer

The formulation, financing and operation of new ventures by individual entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams will be explored. The course will include a group term project designed to give the students clinical experience in the venture creation process.

Human Resource Development - 15 Credits

The Human Resource Development track places emphasis on the skills necessary to develop and implement effective professional development and performance improvement programs. Students will enhance their interpersonal and leadership skills, while developing competencies to work with diverse populations.

This track pairs well with the Entrepreneurship and Business Technology tracks.

Requirements: HRD 240 is the prerequisite for other classes in this track. Courses must be completed in the order listed.

HRD 240: Principles of Human Resource Development | 3 credits | Offered fall

An introduction to the role and scope of human resource development with particular emphasis on required competencies for HRD professionals. Critical moral and ethical issues are introduced.

HRD 245: Leadership in Organizational Settings | 3 credits | Offered fall

An examination of the principles of leadership and their application to group settings. Emphasis will be placed on the critical appraisal of the facets of leadership through the use of cases and readings.

LTLE 370: Instructional Technology | 3 credits | Offered spring

This course covers principles and procedures of a teaching/learning process designed to provide reliable, effective instruction to learners through systematic application of instructional technology. Includes selecting, producing, evaluating and utilizing nonprint media and equipment for application to instructional process.

LTLE 385: Foundations of Instructional Design | 3 credits | Offered spring

The purpose of this course is to apply instructional theory to the creation of instructionally sound education programs and materials.

HRD 480: Learning in Adulthood | 3 credits | Offered summer

A study of the learning processes of the adult learner with an emphasis on adaptations of the instructional process to accommodate the differences inherent in the adult learning environment. Practical applications to actual adult learning situations are included.

Professional and Workplace Communication - 15 Credits

The Professional and Workplace Communication track is designed to provide students with the principles and theories of communication processes necessary for effective communication in professional and organizational contexts. Students will gain knowledge of communication interactions, increase their awareness of diversity, and develop effective skills to explore conflict intervention and mediation in the workplace. 

This track complements any course of study as it provides essential skills for careers in both the public and private sector.

Requirements: COMM 121, 122, or 123 is the prerequisite for all courses in this track.

Courses may be taken in any order after successful completion of the prerequisite.

SCOM 245: Signs, Symbols, and Social Interaction | 3 credits | Offered fall

The study of verbal and nonverbal communication as used in human interaction. Consideration given to the function of symbolic systems in self-concept development, the structuring of reality and social discourse. Attention is directed toward the use of signs and symbols by different ethnic groups, genders, age groups and geographic groups.

SCOM 248: Intercultural Communication | 3 credits | Offered spring

The study of human communication in a variety of cultural settings and contexts. Emphasis on developing understanding and analytical skills regarding communication between people from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds in both domestic and international settings. Consideration of relevance and application to social, business and political environments.

SCOM 334: Alternative Dispute Mediation | 3 credits | Offered fall

Study of conflict resolution processes including mediation, arbitration and negotiation. Consideration of litigation and hybrid dispute processes such as summary jury trial, rent-a-judge and panel evaluation.

SCOM 350: Organizational Communication | 3 credits | Offered summer

Students gain a complex understanding of organizing practices by investigating the evolution of how historical events have influenced organizational communication and managerial practices at work. Drawing upon communication theory, students analyze various organizational communication practices such as the management of workers, development of organizational culture, and interaction with larger systems. Learning is complemented by an experiential learning project.

SCOM 358: Business and Professional Communication Studies | 3 credits | Offered summer

Students investigate the nuance and complexity of communication in modern organizational life. A portion of the class is dedicated to the skills involved in a competitive, successful career search. In addition, students develop the skills to become an ethical and effective organizational citizen.

Senior Research Project

All Individualized Study majors complete IS 498, the BIS Senior Project. The Senior Project is the capstone of your Individualized Study program — and it is when “individualized” shines the brightest.

During the course, you’ll conduct a personalized research project connected to your concentration. It can be a research paper, a video, training workshop or even a novel. The possibilities are endless — as long as it is related to your concentration and contains a research component. You and your instructor will also identify learning goals and outcomes, what you will do to achieve that learning and how you’ll be evaluated.

This course is a 3-credit interdisciplinary research course taught by an instructor. You may register for this class any time after accumulating 90 hours on your JMU transcript. Generally, students earn three credits for the Senior Project, but can earn up to six with special permission.

IS 498: Individualized Study Project | 3-6 credits | Offered fall, spring, and summer

Fulfills 3 credits toward major requirements.

An in-depth study of an interdisciplinary topic directly related to the student’s area of concentration.

Additional Online Courses

These courses may be used to fulfill certain general education requirements, major requirements, or general elective credits as indicated below.

AMST 200: Introduction to American Studies | 3 credits | Offered fall

Fulfills 3 credits toward the Humanities general education requirement.

This interdisciplinary course will highlight the student’s role in interrogating the cultural and political function of representations of America in literature, history, philosophy, religion, popular culture, music and art. Students will gain an understanding of why definitions of American identity matter and learn about the contemporary debates that inform the discipline of American Studies today. Questions about the changing role of national studies in the face of globalization are central.

ART 200: Art in General Culture | 3 credits | Offered fall and spring

Fulfills 3 credits toward the Humanities general education requirement.

An exploratory course that aims to develop a non-technical, general cultural understanding of the space arts, such as architecture, painting, sculpture and industrial design. Emphasis is on the contemporary. May be used for general education credit.

HIST 225: U.S. History | 4 credits | Offered fall and spring

Fulfills the US History general education requirement.

A survey of U.S. history from the Colonial period to the present, emphasizing the development of American civic life, the involvement of the U.S. in world affairs and the cultural richness of the American people. This course stresses the analysis and interpretation of primary sources.

IS 200: Individualized Studies Major Program Development | 3 credits | Offered fall, spring, and summer

Fulfills 3 credits toward major requirements.

An introductory course designed to prepare students for transition into higher education programs. Specific content includes focusing a concentration, selecting an academic advisor, creating an individualized program, technology in higher education, accessing career resources, career decision making skills, self-awareness, life planning, identifying college level experiential learning, documenting experiential learning, determining a credit request, and organizing a portfolio for assessment.

IS 206E: Prior Learning Experience: Research and Writing the Portfolio | 3 credits | Offered fall and spring

Fulfills 3 credits toward general electives.

This course provides an opportunity for students to analyze and articulate college-level learning they have acquired outside a classroom context. Specific content includes identifying college-level learning, writing narrative evaluations of learning, integrating multiple sources of learning and disciplinary theory, producing and arranging sufficient documentation of learning, and organizing a portfolio for assessment.

 

ISCI 101: Physics, Chemistry, and the Human Experience | 3 credits | Offered fall, spring, and summer

Fulfills 3 credits toward the Natural Science general education requirement.

A survey of the fundamental concepts, principles, and ideas of chemistry and physics. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the development of the principles and their application in understanding the world around us. Prerequisite: MATH 103, 107, 205, 220, 231, 235, or the transfer equivalent.

PSYC 160: Life Span Human Development | 3 credits | Offered fall, spring, and summer

Fulfills 3 credits toward the Social and Behavioral Science general education requirement.

An introduction to human development. Emphasis is on life span processes within physical, emotional, cognitive, psychosexual, social, personality and moral development.

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