Adult Degree Program Details

The Adult Degree Program (ADP) gives you the flexibility to create your own degree based on your skills, interests, and future career and educational goals. You work with ADP staff, academic advisors, and other JMU faculty to develop an educational program plan that incorporates JMU’s general education requirements into your chosen curriculum and develop a program of study that is unique to you.

As Individualized Study majors, ADP students develop their program plan concentration by choosing classes from two or more subject areas.  These classes represent the body of knowledge our students want to enhance their current knowledge, skills and abilities to advance or change careers.

ADP online modules are a structured way of developing your program plan concentration and, they help you complete your degree no matter where you live.  Each module was created to give you a strong foundation in that subject area. You can combine two or three modules to create your Individualized Study major concentration, or you can blend them with face-to-face classes if you are able to commute to campus. The available modules are listed below on this page.

Students can earn one of the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Individualized Study
  • Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Study
  • Bachelor of Science in Individualized Study

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 and takes you through the process of putting your Academic Program Plan together.

Degree completion requirements:

ADP students must complete required General Education courses as well as Concentration-based courses.

  • 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) General Education Electives (7 credits).
  • Bachelors of Science: Additional credits include Natural Science (3 credits) and Mathematics (3 credits)
  • Bachelors of Arts: Additional credits include: Philosophy (3 credits) and Foreign Language (6 credits of 200-level or higher)
  • Individualized Study 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. 24 credits must be taken in the 300 and/or 400 levels).
  • Students must take IS 498 Senior Research Project (3 or 6 credits) prior to graduating
  • Electives: Students need 120 credits to graduate - Includes 100 and 200 level courses - Credits that transfer as “000” general credit Transferring Credit

Non-traditional ways of Earning Credit

1. Portfolios of Prior Learning Experience

American institutions of higher learning have been assessing experiential college-level learning for over 30 years. By assessing experiential learning portfolios for non-traditional students, JMU recognizes that learning takes place throughout life and that college-level learning is not limited to the institutions of higher education or to classroom settings. The rationale for portfolio assessment is that adult life and work can offer learning that is equivalent in substance and complexity to that offered in our classrooms. Unless what we teach is fundamentally irrelevant to real human lives, the rationale is sound.

2. College Board Examination Program (CLEP)

CLEP is a national program that offers students credit by computer-based examination. This allows students to have the opportunity to obtain recognition for achievement in specific college courses.

To purchase your examination and obtain information specific to the test you are taking, visit the CLEP website at

The ADP Testing Center administers CLEP exams at their offices in the Ice House located at 127 W. Bruce St., Harrisonburg, Virginia. We currently have testing on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. by appointment only. To schedule a CLEP exam, please contact Ramona Hepner at 540-568-4253. There may be a 2-4 week wait.

3. Departmental Reviews

Courses taken at other institutions may or may not be equivalent to those taught at JMU. During the Transfer Credit Evaluation, the registrar’s office may recommend departmental reviews on subject-specific courses that are in question. Other times, a course may transfer into JMU as an “elective” with a course number of 000 that you may feel should be equivalent to a course taught here.

Students may submit materials through the ADP office for departments to review for specific credit equivalents. Depending on the department’s preference, these materials may include a copy of the catalogue description and/or a copy of the course syllabus. The original course syllabus is always the best document to submit.

4. Independent Study and Internships

ADP students who are near completion of their degree may run into issues getting the classes they need. An Independent Study or Internship course is possible to keep you enrolled and help you complete your requirements. Please contact the ADP office for details.

5. Transfer Credit   

ADP students may take program requirement courses at a local community college to save time and money. You must contact the ADP office first to obtain permission.

JMU students must submit a “Permission to Take Courses for Transfer Credit” form to the Registrar for approval before registering to take classes at a Virginia Community College System school. To see the course equivalents, go to


Listed below are our currently available modules, courses in each module, and a schedule of when each course is offered:

Autism Spectrum Disorder – 9 CREDITS

The Autism Spectrum Studies module is designed for anyone interested in increasing his or her knowledge of the autism spectrum. Whether you are in the education field, studying for a career in counseling, or an interested parent, grandparent, or friend, this series of classes will give you the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively participate on teams addressing the needs of learners with a disability on the Autism Spectrum. This module pairs well with the Professional and Workplace Communication and the Human Resource Development modules as well as with on-campus psychology and education classes.

Requirements: These classes must be taken in the order listed:

EXED 416: Overview and Assessment of Autism Disorders (Fall, 8 weeks)

EXED 417: Communication, Language and Sensory Issues in ASD (Fall, 8 weeks)

EXED 418: Challenging Behaviors, Positive Behavioral Supports, Functional Behavioral Assessment, and Behavior Intervention Plans (Spring, 8 weeks)

Business Technology – 15 CREDITS

Master the basics of the computer systems that support businesses and watch your career thrive. This module introduces you to database design and analysis, web systems development, and computer systems security issues and solutions. This module complements Human Resource Development, Entrepreneurship and Computer Science.

Requirements: CIS 204 or its equivalent (COB 204) is the pre-requisite for all other classes in this module. The other classes can be taken in any order once CIS 204 is completed.

CIS 204: Computer Information Systems for Non-Business Majors (Fall)

CIS 311: Analyzing Data in Organizations (Summer, 4 weeks)

CIS 312: Systems Planning and Analysis (Summer, 8 weeks)

CIS 498: Special Topics in CIS — Network Security (Spring, 8 weeks)

CIS 498: Special Topics in CIS — Designing Web Systems (Spring, 8 weeks)

Entrepreneurship – 9 CREDITS

Are you thinking of starting a business some day? Do you want to better understand the inner workings of the small business that employs you? Or, do you desire to bring innovation to your current job? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this module is for you. Learn the basics of management functions and the formulation, financing, and operation of starting and maintaining a business. This module complements the Business Technology module and would pair well with the Computer Science and Human Resource Development modules.

Requirements: These classes must be taken in order.

MGT 305: Management & Organizational Behavior (Spring, 8 weeks)

MGT 405: Special Topics: Entrepreneurship (Summer, 6 weeks)

MGT 405: Special Topics: Designing Your Business Venture (Summer, 6 weeks)

Human Resource Development – 15 CREDITS

Learn the technology and develop the skills needed to design and implement effective professional development and performance improvement programs and materials for education, business, non-profits and consulting. This module pairs well with Entrepreneurship and Business Technology.

Requirements: HRD 240 is the prerequisite for the other classes in this module. It is advisable to take the classes in the order listed.

HRD 240: Principles of Human Resource Development (Fall, 8 weeks)

HRD 245: Leadership in Organizational Settings (Fall 8 weeks)

LTLE 370: Instructional Technology (Spring, 8 weeks)

LTLE 385: Foundations of Instructional Design (Spring, 8 weeks)

HRD 480: Learning in Adulthood (Summer, 8 weeks)

Professional and Workplace Communication – 15 CREDITS

Students who include the Professional and Workplace Communication module in their program of study will acquire the skills necessary for effective communication on interpersonal, small group, and organizational levels. Students will develop active listening skills, public speaking skills, an understanding of social and cultural influences on workplace and social interactions, and the ability to use communication to mediate and resolve conflict.

This module 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 any of these courses. The classes may be taken in any order

SCOM 245: Signs, Symbols and Social Interaction (Fall, 8 weeks)

SCOM 248: Intercultural Communication (Spring, 8 weeks)

SCOM 334: Alternative Dispute Mediation (Fall)

SCOM 350: Organizational Communication (Summer, 4 weeks)

SCOM 358: Business and Professional Communication Studies (Summer, 4 weeks)

Other online classes for ADP students

These classes can be used to fulfill general education requirements for the Individualized Study major (as indicated) or as electives.

HIST 225: American History (4 credits, Fall; other semesters as needed, full semester) fulfills U.S. History general education requirement

Introduces students to the central themes of American political and social history.  Knowledge of our past is necessary in order to understand the present. Thus, we study United States history in order to better understand the major themes and concepts that shape American life today. The course examines the nature and growth of the intellectual concepts that structure American political activity, the operation of democratic institutions and explores the development of American society. The course examines, for example, questions about how

Americans have understood justice, what it means to live in a free society and about how best to understand and achieve the common welfare of American citizens. Because the United

States has interacted with many parts of the world throughout its history; the course also stresses the evolution of American involvement in global affairs.

SCI 101: Physics, Chemistry, and the Human Experience (3 credits, Spring, 2nd 8-week Block) fulfills 3 of the 6 credits required for the Natural Science general education requirement

This course is a survey of the fundamental principles, concepts and ideas of chemistry and physics. It gives students the tool kit they need to understand how science affects their lives.

Topics include how science works, science vs pseudo-science, energy, the stars and planets, and how science relates to civilization. The course is targeted to non-science majors.

Prerequisite: MATH 103, 107, 205, 220, 231, 235 or the transfer equivalent.

AMST 200: Introduction to American Studies (3 credits, Fall, full semester) fulfills 3 of the 6 credits required in the Humanities general education requirement

This 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.

ENG 247: Survey of American Literature from the Beginning to the Civil War (3 credits, Fall,

1st 8-week block) fulfills 3 of the 6 credits required for the Humanities general education requirement

A general survey presented chronologically.

PSYC 160: Human Growth and Development (3 credits, Fall and Spring, full semester) fulfills 3 of the 6 credits required for 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.

IS 498 Senior Research Project

All students in the Individualized Study Major complete IS 498, the BIS Senior Project. Students may register for this class any time after they have accumulated 90 hours on the JMU transcript. Generally, you earn three credits for the Senior Project, but you can earn up to six.

The Senior Project is the capstone of your Individualized Study Major program — and it is when “individuals” shine the brightest. Students work with a faculty member in their area of concentration to decide on the project. 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 advisor will also identify learning goals and outcomes, what you will do to achieve that learning and how your advisor will evaluate you.

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