Purpose: The purpose of the Individual Studies (IS) Program is to afford qualified applicants the opportunity to create sound master’s degree programs of an interdisciplinary nature or focus on unique subject areas when the curricula of regular graduate degree programs do not meet the individuals’ career objectives and/or needs. The approval of such programs is dependent upon:
• The qualifications of the applicant
• The institution’s ability to provide a sufficient number of relevant graduate level courses
• A sufficient number of faculty qualified and willing to work with the student
• Adequate scholarly and/or creative resources.
CWU will offer IS programs only in fields where appropriate expertise and other resources exist as determined by the dean of Graduate Studies and Research in consultation with the graduate council.
Each IS program must be as academically sound as traditional master’s degrees programs housed in regular academic departments. Thus, it must demonstrate the quality, breadth, and depth normally associated with master’s degrees and must be as intellectually rigorous.
Approved IS programs are administered by an interdisciplinary committee appointed by, and with oversight from, the dean of Graduate Studies and Research. IS programs may be created under the master of arts, master of education, and master of science degree titles.
Application Process: Anyone contemplating the creation of an IS program should first meet with the dean of Graduate Studies and Research before initiating the application process to discuss possible program options. The responsibility for creating an acceptable IS rests entirely with the applicant. If admitted, a graduate student in this program is expected to be highly motivated. He or she must work closely with the program advisor(s) and provide the dean of Graduate Studies and Research with semi-annual program status reports. An applicant to an IS master’s degree program must be able to meet the minimum requirements for admission to graduate study at CWU, including a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in the last 90 quarter or 60 semester credit hours elected. The applicant must complete and submit a formal application, in accordance with the instructions in the application packet, including a non-refundable $50 applicant fee. The GRE may be required at the discretion of the dean of Graduate Studies and Research.
Each applicant is encouraged to apply using the self-managed application process. This will insure efficient and rapid processing of the application. If he or she is unable to use the self-managed application system, he or she may file the application materials separately. The application file must be complete before the graduate school can act upon it. The applicant must follow all instructions included in the application packet. Materials submitted in support of an application cannot be returned nor will they be released for other purposes.
Program Description: In addition to the documents and materials required for the admissions process, each IS applicant must include a description of the IS program he or she wishes to create. The applicant should include a detailed explanation of the rationale for this program and explain why her or his goals cannot be met by means of pursuing an established master’s degree at CWU. The applicant should indicate how the proposed program would meet her or his educational objectives and professional aims.
Learner outcomes are critical to the success of CWU degree programs. As a result, each IS master’s candidate is expected to prepare an acceptable goals statement in which anticipated learner outcomes are specified. These will be measured at the completion of the program as a partial means of determining whether each student has met degree requirements.
Program of Study: A comprehensive, proposed course of study is also required. The requisite form for detailing this may be obtained from the graduate school. A justification for the selection of each election proposed should be included in the course of study. Please note that general graduate school regulations appearing in the CWU catalog must be observed, and all IS programs must include a master’s thesis. In the process of designing the curriculum, applicants are expected to consult the publications of universities nation-wide to identify any programs similar in content and design to the one sought. Such information may provide useful information in constructing the program of study.
Number of Credit Hours: For an IS program of study to be approved by the dean of Graduate Studies and Research, it must include a minimum of 45 quarter hours of graduate-level credit, of which at least 25 credits must be numbered 501 or higher. In some cases more than the minimum of 45 credits will be required. The course of study must include six credits of 700 (Thesis) and may not normally include more than 10 credits of independent study. Prerequisite courses may also be required.
Graduate Committee: Each applicant seeking an IS program must propose a graduate committee to the dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Each committee member must be at least an associate member of the graduate faculty and the person whom the applicant wishes to chair the advisory committee must be a regular member of the graduate faculty. The applicant must work with the faculty to develop the proposed program of study. The proposed graduate committee members will meet with the dean of Graduate Studies and Research to discuss the applicant’s program of study and may be asked to meet with the graduate council as well.
All proposed graduate committee members are expected to discuss their participation on this committee with their respective department chairs. Department chairs must agree to allow their faculty members to participate on the IS committee and all proposed committee members must certify their willingness to serve. The committee constitution will be reviewed by the dean of Graduate Studies and Research in conjunction with the graduate council. Following any needed discussions, the dean of Graduate Studies and Research in consultation with the graduate council, will determine the applicant’s admissibility, along with the viability of the graduate committee, and communicate the decision to the applicant as quickly as possible.
Examinations and Assessment: An oral final examination is required on work completed in partial fulfillment of the IS master’s degree requirements. This examination must include a defense of the thesis and an examination of studies completed. Some graduate committees may also require a written examination as well. The examination process is intended to assure that the student has met the objectives of her or his goal statement and that the learner outcomes have thus been achieved. If the student performs satisfactorily on the examination, the student’s committee will write a summary statement of the student’s accomplishments and competencies for inclusion in the student’s permanent file.
Application Deadlines: The deadlines for submitting all application materials are as follows:
February 1 for fall quarter
April 1 for summer quarter
October 1 for winter quarter
January 1 for spring quarter
Applicants must meet these deadlines or risk jeopardizing their admission for the quarter requested.