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Getting Started

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program allows students to custom design their academic coursework in order to prepare them for their career aspirations.  In order for students to best choose coursework and develop a comprehensive plan of study the following steps must be completed under the supervision of a BIS adviser; students will develop a plan of study, complete a rationale, and meet with an OU faculty mentor. Review the tabs for further information.

The Plan of Study contains the customized coursework, chosen by the student, and approved by the faculty council.  Each student's plan of study is unique to the student and allows them to meet their academic and career aspirations.  Students have the option to choose to include a minor, or two, or even three!  Students are encouraged to view the catalog to research courses while being mindful of pre-requisite requirements.  Meet with an adviser to discuss your academic and career goals, review your completed coursework, and to discuss the best options for your plan of study.


Thank you for your interest in The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary studies program. Creating your plan of study for your Interdisciplinary Studies major through the degree Works portal is easy. To begin, log into your MySail account on the left-hand side, under registration and degree planning select progress to degree. Next you will want to select launch degree works. Once your degree Works page opens, click on the plans tab. If you already have a plan entered by your previous major, click on new plan at the right and choose blank plan. Select a term by scrolling all the way down to BIS plan then click submit.

The description you will enter here is BIS plan of study. Then click save. Then click on the plus sign below BIS plan. Click on courses at the far left. Using the check boxes, choose the courses for your plan of study. To search for a course by rubric, begin typing in the three-letter designation.

For example, if you are adding COM 2000 public speaking, begin typing C-O-M. You will see the options populate alphabetically; then scroll until you find the rubric you are looking for. Once selected, all the course options for that designation will show. You will then select the course or use the arrow to scroll pages.

I am selecting COM 2000, and I see the course titled public speaking matches. Click the box, and the course will populate at the bottom. To add in an additional course, for example, HRD 3510 principles of leadership, follow the same instructions. Type HRD in the subject area and then scroll down to find that designation.

Here you will use the arrow to move to the next page to find the course. Select HRD 3510, and the title principles of leadership matches. Repeat this process by checking the boxes for each course until you have added all the courses you want to take on your plan of study. As you are adding all your courses, you can see a running list at the bottom of the screen. Once you have selected all your plan of study courses, review all your selections to ensure that each is correct. Then click on add to plan once your plan of study is completed in degree Works. Contact your advisor to tell them your plan is entered. Your advisor will explain your next steps. If you have any questions at all please, contact the BIS office thank you.

Your rationale allows you the chance to:

  • Reflect upon your academic aspirations
  • Choose coursework that aligns with your career aspirations

You will respond to six questions to explain how the coursework you have selected will allow you to meet your goals. The rationale along with your plan of study will be reviewed by your adviser prior to submission to the faculty council for approval.


The application rationale is an important part of your application document, as this is the piece that helps our faculty council to understand your educational and career intentions. So, the six-question rationale should span to be about two pages long. You want to keep all the original questions intact, so just use the original document that we sent you and type your questions into the space below. Lengthwise each question should run about one to two paragraphs depending on the question. Spend the first question explaining your educational background - majors that you've had before, schools that you've attended, career ideas that you've had - really helping us to see what has brought you to this point. And the second question, this is asking you about your career and educational goals. In here, you can write in detail what your plans are for your future. Number three is an important one. This one is asking you about the course choices that you've selected for your proposed plan of study. For this one, you'll need to list each class that will be part of your plan of study, so each of your future courses. And write about a one to two-sentence explanation of why that course is a good choice for you. Think about how is this course going to be helpful to you in achieving your future goals. You can refer to the course description and the catalog so that you can learn more about the course. Number four is another important question that is kind of getting into the theory of integration. So think about how does all of your past coursework integrate with your future coursework to make you uniquely qualified for the field that you would like to go into. So, think about this one kind of on a deeper level, right? How did you develop some transferable skills from what you've done before? How are the new courses going to help you to develop the skills, knowledge, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, all the pieces that are going to go in to help you to stand out in the field? That's what you want to write about there. Number five is asking you to give a hypothetical title to your plan of study. This should not be a typical, regular major that we already have at OU. So think of this in a more creative way. What would your integrative title be? It should sound academic and a professional title, but remember it's a hypothetical title. It won't actually be listed on your transcript. And the last question refers to graduate school. If you do not plan to go on to graduate school you don't have to answer this question further than just explaining that at this time you don't plan to go on for grad school. If you do plan to go on for graduate school, talk about any prerequisites that are required and how you've included those. Maybe it's looking at the GPA. maybe there are certain classes that are required for your next step. That's what you want to include in that area. We want to make sure that you'll be able to transfer on, or go on for graduate school seamlessly, without having to do anything extra in between. And so, that will wrap up your rationale! It should be written professionally. It should be typed. So, it's a very important document that should really showcase you. So read through it. Use the Writing Center for help if you need that. Check for grammar. Make sure that everything flows well, and when you feel that it's in perfect condition, send it to your advisor for review. And we'll read through it and offer you any suggestions that we might have make it even better. So, thanks for the good hard work on that!

Meeting with a faculty mentor gives you the opportunity to:

  • Discuss your education and career goals with an expert in the field you wish to pursue.
  • The knowledge in which your mentor shares will allow you to solidify the coursework you have chosen for your plan of study.
  • Ask questions about your career path and opportunities.

Your faculty mentor is chosen by your adviser, after adviser approval of your plan of study and rationale. At the end of your meeting you and your faculty mentor will need to sign your application documents.


The third step in the application process is to meet with your faculty mentor. This is a great opportunity for you to connect with a subject-matter expert in the field of your study. This person is knowledgeable about your career and may be able to offer you further recommendations. They can also answer any questions that you have about course content, or anything specific that you have about the field. After your adviser has reviewed your plan of study and your rationale, they will forward you information on contacting your faculty mentor and the sheet that needs to be signed. You will then email your faculty mentor in a professional and respectful manner, introduce yourself, and ask for a meeting. Your BIS adviser will also send your faculty mentor your application packet in advance. Please allow at least a two-week window when scheduling your appointment and be flexible with times that might be offered for you. Here are some tips when meeting with your mentor. Write down any questions that you might have, be early and be prepared, sign the form and take it with you to your meeting. Or, if you're meeting virtually, ask your mentor to sign the form and return it to you. Follow up with an email of thanks and don't forget to send your application packet signed to your adviser.

Your application documents consist of your signed plan of study (by both you and your faculty mentor) and your rationale document.  You may submit these forms electronically or in-person to the BIS office, on main campus, (following COVID health and safety procedures).  The application documents must be submitted by the appropriate deadline.  After the council meets you will receive notification regarding your acceptance into the BIS program and if you have maintained major standing status. 

Application Deadlines

Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies

Dodge Hall, Room 137
118 Library Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-3229
Fax: (248) 370-3261

Office Hours:
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(except on recognized holidays)