Oct 07, 2022  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Interdisciplinary Studies: Concentration in Individual Degree

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The Individual Degree Concentration offers students the opportunity to develop an individual degree program that integrates academic disciplines. It allows the academically strong, self-motivated student to design her or his own major with the help of faculty members from different departments. The program exists to help a student pursue an interdisciplinary major that is not offered at UNCA while making use of existing university resources.

An individual degree concentration requires the student to assemble a committee consisting of at least two faculty members from two different departments who will help design a course of study. At least one member must be a tenured member of the faculty. The student and faculty will design a rationale for the proposed program of study, indicating how this particular program will meet the educational goals of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, and how the program differs from existing programs at UNCA.

Students should meet with the IST director to pick up complete application guidelines and for guidance in creating a successful proposal. Proposals must be submitted and approved before a student completes 75 hours. Deadlines for submission of proposals are set each semester, normally occurring midway through the semester.

Requirements for an Individual Degree Concentration:

1. There must be a persuasive rationale for the individual program:

This must include an explanation of the need for an individual concentration. A persuasive rationale must also include the reasoning behind the focus of the proposal and what the course of study is intended to accomplish. It is important this is not simply a listing of courses, but a real course of study that is academically sound and intellectually defensible. The following types of proposals are not appropriate for an Individual Degree Concentration:

  • Proposals for majors that the university does not have the resources to provide.
  • Proposals that are based on the specific requirements of a professional program or are narrowly tailored for a specific career.
  • Proposals that modify or substantially reproduce an existing degree program.
  • Proposals that combine existing majors with an existing minor.

2. A specific statement of the learning objectives of the proposed Individual Degree Concentration and how the learning objectives of the IST program are met:

This statement should include references to course work as well as to individual work. A proposal that relies heavily on special topics or research with one professor is unlikely to be approved. The learning objectives of the IST program are included in the application packet available from the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.

3. A specific statement of how the objectives will be assessed:

The IST program requires all Individual Degree Concentration majors to develop a portfolio to be used in assessing program learning objectives. Summary statements from faculty committee members are required at least once a year indicating progress towards and achievement of concentration goals.

4. Description of capstone project or coursework:

The capstone experience should synthesize and summarize the major, and demonstrate major competency.

5. Listing of courses required for the major:

A specific list of required courses must be submitted and placed into appropriate subcategories.

  • The major must total 36-45 credit hours.
  • Courses must be from at least three different disciplines available at UNC Asheville.
  • No more than one-half of the required credit hours may come from any one department.
  • At least 21 of the required hours must be at the 300-level or above.
  • Students must have completed or be enrolled in IST 290  to apply for an individual concentration.
  • IST 495  must be included in the list.
  • At least two-thirds of the major must be taken while a student at UNC Asheville.
  • Students seeking an Individual Degree Concentration cannot seek a double major.
  • None of the hours used to fulfill requirements for a declared minor may be used for the Individual Degree Concentration.

6. Timetable for completion of degree:

The timetable should be based on reasonable expectations of course offerings and should demonstrate that the degree can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. It may be necessary to consult with department chairs about recent patterns of course offerings. Individual Degree Concentrations often take more than four years simply because of course scheduling. Curricular substitutions can be made after degree approval, but are not always appropriate or possible. Students who are not enrolled for two consecutive semesters must have their Individual Degree Concentration reviewed when they return. Students who are not enrolled for three or more consecutive semesters must reapply for an Individual Degree Concentration.

7. Statement of Faculty Support:

Each faculty member on the student’s committee should write a statement of feasibility and support of the concentration and its objectives. It is expected that faculty will work with the student to develop all parts of the proposal, but a separate statement of support is required. Faculty members agree to fulfill the function of an academic department for the student, which includes not only establishing and assessing learning objectives, but also supervising the student’s capstone experience. Faculty who are unsure of the requirements should contact the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Additional Information:

When the IST director determines the submitted proposal is consistent with the university’s mission, the student can formally declare a major in Interdisciplinary Studies. This declaration is contingent on the Office of the Registrar certification that the proposal meets all graduation requirements. No changes may be made in the approved program without  written authorization from the IST director. The title of the individual degree will be identified on the student’s transcript at the time of graduation.

Liberal Arts Core (LAC)

For additional information about the Liberal Arts Core and the specific courses that fulfill the requirements, visit the Office of the Registrar website, https://registrar.unca.edu/liberal-arts-core.

Liberal Arts Core Requirements

The credit hours listed are the minimum required.

Requirement Credits
First-Year Seminar 3
Academic Writing and Critical Inquiry 4
Humanities 12
Laboratory Science 4
Scientific Perspectives 3
Quantitative Perspectives 4
Social Science 3
Second Language (proficiency through the 2nd semester) 0-4
Arts and Ideas 3
Senior Capstone 4
Diversity Intensive 3


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