The Specialized Honours BA Program in Individualized Studies (IS) is designed for students whose academic interests are best met by a program of study that they tailor to suit themselves. It allows intellectually mature, resourceful students to pursue, in interdisciplinary fashion, a line of inquiry fitted to their own particular interests. Like other programs and disciplines, IS is committed to expertise in a coherent academic pursuit. Meanwhile, students in IS, unlike those in other programmes, are free, in constructing a major, to draw on all the University's many disciplines, fields of study, and faculties.
IS, then, is unique at York, as it allows students to define for themselves the core problem or issue that shapes and governs their studies, and to draw upon various academic disciplines to address that problem,. To make this work, students must have a clear central project for the final thesis, a study or perhaps a work of art, tied to a larger core topic that, in the eyes of the IS Coordinator, proves that the whole set of courses is coherent and that it confers meaningful expertise.
To determine that a student should join IS takes several steps. First, the Coordinator must agree, in conversation, that a student's topic is clear enough to qualify. Next, the Coordinator must make sure that the topic could not be pursued in any York major. Third comes a period of energetic exploration on the student's part, often lasting weeks; after scouting York, exploring its listed offerings and speaking carefully with professors, the student and the IS Coordinator determine whether York has the expertise and courses to make the proposed program work. If there is indeed a solid base - one can even bolster York's courses with classes at other universities - then the Coordinator enrolls the student.
In the final year all students submit a thesis. Though this final project may involve varied media, film, dance, painting, or computer animation, for instance, it always contains a major piece of writing. IS takes talent, steadiness, initiative, and independence. If you think that your academic interests would best be served by Individualized Studies, do let us find a time to talk.