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. IS, in other words, provides intellectually mature and resourceful students with the opportunity to pursue, in interdisciplinary fashion, a line of inquiry that is tailored to, and that they themselves develop on, the basis of their own unique and particular interests. Like other programs and disciplines, IS is committed to the idea that an Honours BA must reflect a high level of expertise in a specific and coherent area of academic pursuit. However, unlike other programs, students in IS have the freedom to draw on several of the University's disciplines, fields of study, and faculties in constructing their majors.
Detailed information on how to apply to Individualized Studies
The first thing to do is to think hard and long: What is at the core of my many rich and varied interests?
Then you make an appointment for a long, interesting talk with the Director of the programme. You and the Director will range over all your talents, ambitions, values, and enthusiasms, looking for central themes and core concerns.
The Director will ask: What might be your subject? Your big question? And then, with you, the Director will begin to explore the resources of the university.
But much of this exploring will fall to you. You will have to "go walkabout," as the Australian Aborigines said of their classic rite of initiation to adulthood. But you will be walking not the Australian wilderness in search of inner strength, but the academy, tracking down professors who might be able to help guide your way. You will need to find a main advisor, who will watch over your final-year thesis project, and you will need as well to build a network of teachers who can help add crucial parts to this major-with-no-major you are constructing.
This process takes weeks, and the programme director is always available, as a sounding-board and source of new ideas.
Building your own major, and learning how to navigate a place so complex as a university, is itself part of the supple discipline that defines the IS degree.
Once you know with whom and what to study, you return to the programme director with a one-page statement about what your project means, why it matters, and how you will carry it out. In your final year you will have to write, or otherwise create, a thesis. Some students will photograph, or film, or choreograph or otherwise compose a final project, with essay-writing only one component of something else.
As you can see, Individualized Studies works for students who are resourceful, flexible, talented, and steady in the long haul.
Now that you have decided that this is the program for you, what are your career options?