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Application Guidelines

Your application must be typed or word processed (All forms are available under the BSS section at www.ohio.edu/univcollege/forms.cfm) and include in this order each of the following:

  1. Cover Page
    a. Program Title or Concentration list.
    b. Faculty Signatures: TWO FACULTY MEMBERS (Group 1 or 2) MUST BE CONSULTED DURING THE PREPARATION OF YOUR APPLICATION, including at least one person who teaches in your area of concentration. The signatures of these faculty resource persons verify that you have reviewed your proposed goals and program with appropriate and knowledgeable people. Attached on page 13 are guidelines for faculty resource advisors and who may serve as a faculty advisor. Provide these to faculty members who may have questions about the BSS degree and application.
    c. Sign the proposal.
    d. Obtain your advisor's signature.
  2. Statement of Rationale. Please see guidelines below.
  3. Curriculum Sheets. On your curriculum sheets, specify the courses you have taken and/or plan to take by department, catalog number, title, grade earned, and credits. Include sets of planning sheets for: (a) the Area of Concentration Plan, and (b) the Electives Plan.
  1. The Area of Concentration (AOC): These courses form the core of your program and must support the goals outlined in your Statement of Rationale. Your AOC (completed, current, and planned together) must have a minimum of 45 quarter hours and no more than 75 quarter hours and include courses from two or more departments.
  2. Your planned AOC must contain at least twelve (12) credit hours. Develop your AOC carefully because these courses become your requirements for graduation if your application is accepted and must be successfully completed. If any course substitutions become necessary, a course substitution form must be submitted to and approved by the BSS program director before a course is taken. Retroactive changes are not permitted in the Area of Concentration.
  3. The Electives: Although the list of electives is not binding, this is an indication of other courses you expect to take in your BSS program.
  4. With your advisor and your BSS DARS, count your completed, current, and planned hours and record the totals on the appropriate line on page 12. Account for all general education requirements (Tier I, II, III) for your catalog entry year.
  1. DARS REPORT. Attach a copy of a DARS report that shows your program as if you are a BSS student. Ask your advisor to provide this for you. This DARS will indicate that you must complete a minimum of 80 quarter hours of upper-division (300-400 level) work.

A Final Note on Preparing Your BSS Application

Your application should be neat and professionally presented. It needs to state your case clearly and convincingly. The BSS Review Committee will evaluate your proposal based on the clarity of your goals; the coherence between your Statement of Rationale and Area of Concentration; your adherence to conventional grammar, spelling, and writing styles, and the appropriateness of your title.

You will need to word process your final proposal. The BSS Application.doc is available under the BSS section at www.ohio.edu/univcollege/forms.cfm. The pages enclosed in this application packet are worksheets.

Guidelines for Writing the Statement of Rationale

  1. Your BSS application consists of two parts: a statement of rationale which is an essay explaining what you propose to study and why, and your course plan (for your Area of Concentration and electives). The BSS review committee makes the final decision about your admission to the BSS program based on this application.

    Your statement of rationale should not exceed two typed, double-spaced pages. You should follow the outline presented below. Since you do not meet personally with the committee during the review process, your statement of rationale must present your proposal clearly and coherently; it must describe your goals and thoroughly explain your proposed BSS program of study. The committee will review your proposed course plan to see if it matches the goals outlined in your statement of rationale essay. For example, if you write that you want to study human behavior and its effects on society, the committee would expect to find courses from psychology, sociology, and other social sciences listed in your area of concentration. Your essay should address the questions listed below.

    The Review Committee expects that all essays follow standard rules of grammar, spelling, and composition.

    Who are you?

    • What were your educational and personal goals when you entered OU?
    • If your educational/personal goals have changed, in what ways have they changed?
    • What kinds of courses, education, and work and life experiences have you had prior to your application? You do not need to include every course or job you have had, but those which have been significant in shaping your current goals.

    Why BSS?

    • What are the reasons you are applying to the BSS program? What do you propose to learn from the degree program you are designing? You need to state your learning goals. (For example, if you are interested in a career in sales or marketing, one of your learning goals might be "to develop effective communication skills to persuade and influence others.")
    • What types of courses (not specific courses) do you propose to study that will help you achieve your goals? (To continue with the example above, you might write that "I propose to enroll in interpersonal communication courses to enhance my communication skills.")
    • Why is the BSS major a better choice for you than any of the existing university majors?

    Where will you go (after graduating)?

    • At the time of graduation, how will you know if you have achieved your stated goals? (Again, if you are the same student interested in sales, you might write that you will have achieved your learning goals if you persuade someone to hire you as a salesperson, or you earn A’s and B’s in all your communication and marketing courses, or you join the marketing club and develop an award winning marketing campaign.)
    • What goals do you have for the next 5-10 years? How will your BSS help you achieve them?


    • Why is the BSS program the best choice for you?

Below you will find an example of a statement of rationale essay.


Bachelor of Specialized Studies Statement of Rationale 

Who Am I?

When I left Ohio University over ten years ago, I never imagined I would one day return to complete my education. At the time, I had been attending school for the better part of sixteen years. During my time in the classroom, I had learned the many aspects of our American culture, from our social, political and religious beliefs to our historical, artistic and recreational traditions. After sixteen years, I felt I was ready to experience life as opposed to learning about it. Instead of being taught about the culture that we live in, I was ready to be an active participant.

In the twelve years since entering the "real world," I have learned quite a few "life lessons." I have become a husband, father, homeowner and taxpayer. I have been everything from a vacuum cleaner salesman, to a folk singer, to a janitor in a bank. For the past eight years I have worked as a radio station disc jockey at various stations in central and southeast Ohio. In my own small way I have been a participant in the very culture I learned about in the classroom so many years ago.

Why BSS?

I am again pursuing my education at Ohio University for the same reason that I left–to gain knowledge. Now that I know what it is to be an American, I want to learn what it means to be an American. This is where the Specialized Studies program comes in to play. By creating a course of study combining American History and American Literature courses, I hope to better understand how our culture developed and how it reflects our beliefs and ideals.

Why don’t you just major in history if you want to learn about American culture? This is a question that I have been asked a number of times since deciding upon this specialized program of study. Obviously, history is an integral part of learning about any people and culture. Without a firm grasp of what happened in the past, we cannot understand the present and prepare for the future. But one of the best ways to learn about a people and their everyday lives is to explore their literature–to read the actual stories, poems, plays and novels that they themselves wrote and read. You can learn a great deal of factual information by reading a text book on the great depression but you can also get a more intimate portrait by reading "The Grapes of Wrath." Both works complement each other.

Where I Will Go (after graduating)?

After completing my American Cultural Studies degree, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in either English, history or library science. I would eventually like to work as a librarian at a university or community college. I believe the writing and research skills I will learn as an American Cultural Studies student coupled with a firm grasp of literature and history will prepare me for my future endeavors.

Area of Concentration Guidelines

Your Concentration is your major. It consists of those courses that you, your advisor, and your Faculty Resource Advisors think will help you achieve your goals. Someone who looks at your concentration and then reads your rationale should be able to determine why you are taking the courses you list. If you list a few art courses in your concentration but write a rationale which indicates you want a career in social services, the BSS Review Committee will question your choices. If, on the other hand, your rationale also mentions that you are thinking of applying to an art therapy master’s program at a later date, your reason for including the art courses becomes obvious and appropriate. Use your DARS and the form below to create your concentration. Your concentration should be at least 45 hours and no more than 75 hours, which is a standard major. You must plan at least twelve hours in the planned section.

Checklist for Developing the BSS Application

1. Meet with a University College or regional campus advisor to discuss the BSS program and its appropriateness for your goals.

2. Write a first draft of your Statement of Rationale for pursuing a self-designed degree program (see "Guidelines for Writing Statement of Rationale for BSS and Example," pages 7 & 8).

3. Consult your University College or regional campus advisor to discuss the first draft of your Statement of Rationale (Item #1) and tentative curriculum plan (Item #2).

4. Consult faculty resource persons, one of whom must be from a department included in your Area of Concentration.

5. Develop a tentative curriculum for your Area of Concentration and electives that fulfills your academic goals.

6. Complete any revisions suggested by your University College or regional campus advisor, or faculty resource persons.

7. Review the revised program proposal with your University College or regional campus advisor.

8. Word process the Statement of Rationale and Curriculum pages.

9. Review the completed application with your faculty resource persons, and obtain their signatures.

10. Obtain from your advisor and include a copy of your DARS report "as if" you are a BSS student.

11. Make a copy of your completed application for your records.

12. Submit your completed application to your University College or regional campus advisor any time during the quarter. To have current credit hours included as part of the residency requirement, applications must be submitted by the last day of classes of fall, winter, or spring quarter, or the full summer session.

Keep this checklist and a copy of your completed application form.

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