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Undergraduate Majors

Ohio University's nine undergraduate colleges offer more than 250 programs of study. Students may select from a wide variety of majors, minors and certificates. While most undergraduate programs at the Athens campus are designed to be completed in four years, a limited number of two-year degree programs are available as well.

Specialized Studies Major (B.S.S.)

Major code BS1112

University College  
Chubb Hall 140
Athens, OH 45701
Phone: 740.593.1935
Fax: 740.593.0206

Julie Cohara, Director of Degree Programs cohara@ohio.edu

Program Overview

The Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.) program allows students to create a faculty-approved, individualized, multidisciplinary degree program tailored to their individual academic interests and/or career needs. In conjunction with faculty and staff, students design an Area of Concentration that stands as the equivalent of pre-established major.

The Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.) is appropriate if you would like to combine courses from different academic departments to create a unique major, or if you have interests and career goals not met by a current Ohio University major.

Typically, the Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree is not an appropriate degree program for someone who has previously completed a bachelor's degree. In special circumstances, a person who has completed a prior bachelor's degree may petition the director of degree programs to seek permission to apply for and complete the B.S.S. degree. The B.S.S. major cannot be completed as a second major program of study. Nor can a student declare a double major with the B.S.S. program.

The Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.) program is available on all Ohio University campuses.

Admissions Information

Freshman/First-Year Admission

New students may enter OHIO as a Pre-B.S.S. (ND1112) major. Once enrolled, first year pre-B.S.S. students are encouraged to attend an information session to become oriented to the major. A student officially enters the major after earning at least 30 semester hours, developing their major with a B.S.S. academic advisor and successfully completing the spring application process.

Currently registered, degree seeking students may apply to the Bachelor of Specialized Studies as early as the term in which they anticipate reaching sophomore rank (at least 30 semester hours earned) and will have attained a 2.0 or higher cumulative GPA.

Change of Program Policy

To enter the Specialized Studies program, a student must complete an extensive application in collaboration with a B.S.S. Academic Advisor. Athens students are required to attend an information session prior to receipt of the application. Information session information is available here on the University College's website. Students may obtain access to the  application from University College, regional campus, or e-campus B.S.S. advisors, who will assist in designing the Area of Concentration. Applicants must also work with two B.S.S. faculty partner reviewers (Group 1 or Group 2 faculty members) in preparing the application. An application planning guide is available through Athens campus information sessions and through a B.S.S. Academic Advisor.

Application workshops are regularly available each term on the Athens campus. Workshops are posted here. Pre-B.S.S. students should also receive application assistance from their B.S.S. Academic Advisor.

Students may declare pre-B.S.S. as a major. Athens students are required to attend the information session or meet with a University College B.S.S. Academic Advisor for B.S.S. orientation prior to receiving access to the pre-B.S.S. major link. Non-Athens students may declare pre-B.S.S. by meeting with their B.S.S. Academic Advisor. Declaring a pre-B.S.S. major does not remove a student's current major. However, after the student officially applies to the B.S.S. program with a proposed curriculum, the student's previous major will be removed once the individualized major program is approved.

Applications will be reviewed by the B.S.S. review committee each term. Approved students will begin their B.S.S. residency the semester in which the complete and authorized application proposal was submitted, so long as it was submitted by the stated application deadline. 

External Transfer Admission

Students who have transferred from another institution may apply to the Bachelor of Specialized Studies major following the application procedure described above. The Bachelor of Specialized Studies can be a very good option for transfer students, as transfer work accepted by Ohio University can be used to help meet requirements for the degree, including the Area of Concentration. Transfer students should be aware of the B.S.S. Residency Requirement (hours completed as a B.S.S. major) of 30 hours, as well as the 39 hours required at the 3000-/4000-level. Also, transfer students are required to complete at least 32 semester hours through Ohio University to receive a bachelor's degree from Ohio University, and at least 50 percent of the major (Area of Concentration) must be completed through OHIO.

Opportunities Upon Graduation

By its nature, the Specialized Studies degree is unique to each individual, making a general statement regarding career preparation impractical. The application process, however, requires a statement of rationale for pursuing the major and for selection of courses in the Area of Concentration. This statement includes the student's educational and career goals and requires the student to thoroughly research pathways to their goals. Many B.S.S. students design a major with a specific career goal or graduate program in mind. Additionally, the B.S.S. major has internship and special projects options, which can provide upper-level course credit and further students' preparation for their particular career objectives. The B.S.S. program works closely with the Career & Leadership Development Center to offer students career and leadership development resources.

As a student in the Bachelor of Specialized Studies program, you may complete one or more academic minors, as long as the courses taken to meet the minor requirements are not included in the B.S.S. Area of Concentration. A student should indicate their intention to complete a minor at the time they submit a Bachelor of Specialized Studies application. Courses required to earn a certificate may be included in the Area of Concentration.

Up to 30 hours earned through the Experiential Learning Program may be applied to the Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree program. A maximum of 33 hours from the College of Business's business accredited courses may be included in a Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree program.

B.S.S. students may earn departmental honors through University College. Students must have an accumulated GPA of a 3.5 or greater and complete an honors thesis to be eligible to earn departmental honors. Guidelines and an application are available from the director of degree programs.

To submit an application to the Specialized Studies program for consideration, a student must:

  1. Be currently registered as a degree-seeking student;
  2. Anticipate reaching sophomore rank (at least 30 semester hours earned) in the term of application; and

  3. Have earned a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above.

To graduate with a Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree, a student must:

  1. Earn at least 120 hours, of which at least 39 must be courses with catalog numbers at the 3000-level or above, as shown in this catalog. This does not include graduate level courses.
  2. Begin their B.S.S. residency the semester in which a completed and authorized application was submitted, so long as it was submitted by the stated application deadline. The residency requires no fewer than 30 hours at Ohio University and excludes any transfer credit, transient credit, Course Credit by Examination, Independent Study coursework, etc., for which the initial registration occurred prior to application to the Specialized Studies program.
  3. Complete 15 classes (ranging from 30 - 50 hours) in the self-designed Area of Concentration approved by the Bachelor of Specialized Studies review committee. At least 50 percent of the coursework taken for the B.S.S. Area of Concentration must be completed at Ohio University.
  4. Complete the University General Education requirements.
  5. Complete the minimum of 30 hours of Ohio University coursework to satisfy the University residency requirement.
  6. Earn at least a 2.0 GPA in the Area of Concentration and overall.


The Richard Brackin Scholarship
A scholarship awarded each spring to a non-traditional B.S.S. student, subject to available funding. Applications are available from the director of degree programs in March for the following school year.

Special Projects Fund
B.S.S. students may apply for funding for up to $500 to support a research project or experiential learning activity related to their programs of study. An application is required and can be obtained from director of degree programs.  The Special Projects Fund is subject to available funding.

Scholars Programs
B.S.S. students are encouraged to seek academic enrichment through programs such as the Margaret Boyd Scholars and OHIO Fellows programs, which foster in-depth learning and intellectual engagement through collaboration with faculty, peers, and alumni.


B.S.S.-specific courses include:

B.S.S. students are strongly encouraged to undertake an internship as part of their curriculum. Students who develop work or volunteer experience related to their B.S.S. curriculum can earn up to 15 credit hours for their experience.

Special Projects
This course option allows B.S.S. students to pursue a unique learning experience, such as independent study, research, international experience, or a conference presentation. Students can apply for up to $500 from the Special Projects Fund to help offset costs of pursing a special project.

Senior Seminar
In this seminar, B.S.S. seniors work with faculty members and with classmates to reflect on academic experiences and prepare to launch into life beyond Ohio University.

Students may choose to work on a research or creative project for their thesis. This optional course is intended for students who plan to graduate with B.S.S. departmental honors. The departmental honors distinction is noted on the student's diploma.