Students at commencement
Bachelor of Specialized Studies

Bachelor of Specialized Studies

At Ohio University, students can choose among more than 250 undergraduate majors, from accounting to world religions. But what happens if none of them is exactly the right fit? The Bachelor of Specialized Studies (BSS) degree allows eligible students to create an individualized, multidisciplinary degree tailored to their individual interests and needs. Working closely with faculty partners and a BSS academic advisor, students design and combine areas of concentration equivalent in depth and breadth of study to a pre-established major.

Typically, the Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree is not appropriate as a second-degree (double major), or for someone who has previously completed a bachelor’s degree. In special circumstances, a person who has already completed a bachelor’s degree may petition the director of degree programs for permission to apply for and complete the BSS.

The BSS program is available on all Ohio University campuses, including OHIO Online.

“When I learned about the BSS program,

it sounded perfect for me. It gave me the creative freedom to hand-pick classes I felt were relevant to my future career. This program gave me the tools to form a major that will serve me in any workplace. At first I was unsure about my future career but now, because of the program, I am looking forward to what the future has in store for me.”

— Aaron Ray, BSS in technology and project management, minor in business administration

photo of Aaron Ray

“Specialized Studies allowed

me to develop a major with an interdisciplinary approach to natural resources conservation. As a transfer student, I was also able to draw upon previous educational experiences to form an invaluable major best suited to my interests. Working as a butterfly field technician for the Iowa Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring Program in Iowa helped me learn essential skills in the field and forge connections with natural resources conservation professionals.”

—Hannah Kopp, BSS in natural resource conservation

Image for Hannah Kopp

"I have been given so many

different opportunities to experience things I would have never gotten to experience without my degree. It has served me in a way that has allowed me to appreciate my childhood, my life in general, and my education. Working in the criminal justice field opens your eyes to a world that most people try to pretend doesn't exist. It does exist, and when you work in it, you appreciate all aspects of it."

—Jamie (McCoy) Chaney, BSS in psychology, sociology, and social work 

Image for Jamie Chaney

"I am very thankful for the specialized

studies major as it allowed me the flexibility to spend my final semester earning college credit while interning in Washington, DC. That opportunity allowed me to gain invaluable experience that I could not have been afforded in a classroom. Unlike other tracks, the specialized degree allowed me to optimize my success not only as a college student but as a professional."

—Imani Edwards, BSS in politics of the Africana Community

Image for Imani Edwards

Departmental Honors

Bachelor of Specialized Studies students may earn departmental honors through University College.

  • Students must earn a 3.5 accumulative GPA to earn departmental honors.
  • An honors thesis spanning at least two semesters of research is required. A student would be enrolled in SPST 4940H throughout the duration of the thesis research.
  • An honors thesis proposal must first be submitted to request access to SPST 4940H.

Faculty Partners

Faculty Partners are faculty members who work with a pre-BSS student after their proposal has received a “green light” from their BSS advisor to enter this phase of proposal development.

Faculty who are tenured, tenure-track, and full-time/permanent faculty are eligible to serve as a faculty partner. Visiting and adjunct faculty as well as graduate students are ineligible to serve as faculty partners. Please be aware of your own department’s expectations, as a few departments designate one key person to serve as a BSS Liaison.

A pre-BSS student is seeking your expertise on their curriculum and transition plan. If you’re engaged in a faculty partnership, you can respond to a pre-BSS student’s proposal in two ways:

  1. Sign off on the proposal faculty partner signature line if you unconditionally support it. An email approval to the student and their BSS academic advisor is also permissible.
  2. Sign off on the proposal faculty partner signature line if you support it (with or without concerns) and check the adjacent box indicating you’d like to include a faculty rubric (attach faculty rubric). You may return the rubric directly with the student or email it to both the student and their BSS advisor.  

Faculty Reviewers

Faculty Reviewers serve on the BSS Proposal Review and Admission committee. The faculty rubric guides consistency for the faculty review process. The committee meets three times a year in clustered teams based upon the makeup of the proposals submitted that term.

Faculty Service Credit

Please request a service letter from Julie Cohara, Director of Degree Programs, to get credit for your service as a faculty partner or reviewer.

BSS Academic Advisors

BSS Deadline Extension Form is used if a student has received a green light and has unique circumstances prohibiting from turning in the proposal by the required deadline. Extensions are due within one week of a formal deadline, and the green lit proposal must be attached. A deadline extension may delay graduation.

BSS/AIS Substitution Form is used if a course is full/cancelled/etc. and a student is no longer able to take a class without disruption to their timeline. Do not use this form if a student has failed an approved course or is pre-BSS.

BSS Substitution Appeal Form is used if a student has previously failed a course and wants to substitute it.

Curriculum Petition is used to appeal any BSS major program requirements. Extensive documentation is required for extraordinary circumstances. These are rarely approved.

Non-BSS Academic Advisors

Want to refer a student to the BSS program? You can do so in the referral tab in MyOhio Success Network or by encouraging your advisee to call 740-593-1935 to register for a BSS Information Session. Please do not use a traditional Update of Program form to change their major.  

Where is my shared pre-BSS advisee in the process? By peak advising in March, you can view your advisee’s status in the pre-BSS success plan on MyOhio Success Network. If the plan is completed, their proposal is under review for final admission.


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