Bachelor of Specialized Studies
The Bachelor of Specialized Studies (BSS) program allows students to create an individualized, multidisciplinary degree tailored to their individual interests and needs. In collaboration with faculty partners and a BSS academic advisor, students design an area of concentration that is equivalent to a pre-established major.
Students who want to combine courses from different academic departments to create a unique major and students with interests and career goals not met by a current Ohio University major will be well-served by the specialized studies degree.
Typically, the Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree is not appropriate as a second-degree program (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.
Meet Leanne Ford and hear how she charted her own path with the help of the BSS degree. When she couldn't find a major that fit at Ohio University, Leanne designed her own degree. With the flexibility of the specialized studies major, she was able to put together courses in art, graphic design, public relations, advertising and retail for a focus that she called "integrated retail communications." A self-taught interior designer, Ford earned her bachelor's degree in specialized studies in 2003.
Amidst a successful career as a fashion stylist, she gained national attention for the 1907 schoolhouse turned home she restored and designed in her hometown of Pittsburgh. She's now an HGTV star whose signature aesthetic trends across Instagram. She partners with various home outfits such as Crate & Barrel, Hart Tools, and Domino Magazine to bring her modern yet lived-in aesthetic to homes from Los Angeles to New York City.
Examples of Past Degrees
- Acting and Dance Performance
- Administration Analysis
- Anthropology and Cultural Studies
- Athletic Marketing and Communication
- Business and Printmaking
- Business and Recreational Services
- Communication and Deaf Studies
- Counterterrorism and Global Security
- Criminology and Diversity
- Cultural and Religious Studies
- Dramatic and Literary Analysis
- English and Playwriting
- Entertainment Productions
- Entrepreneurship and Business Management
- Environmental Planning and Policy
- Event Planning
- Film and Media Arts
- Global Economics and Finance
- Global and Social Justice
- Health Communication and Marketing
- History and English Literature
- History and Political Discourse
- Hospitality Management
- Information Security Management
- Information Systems and Economics
- Interdisciplinary Arts and Human Relations
- International Arts Management
- International Communication and Culture
- Marketing and Communication Studies
- Marketing and Nutrition
- Mental Health Services
- Multimedia Writing
- Music Management and Media Relations
- Music, Psychology, and Health Services
- Natural Sciences and Nutrition
- News Reporting and Politics
- Organizational Administration
- Photojournalism and Graphic Design
- Physiology and Recreation Management
- Political and Cultural Studies
- Production Design for Theatre and Film
- Retail Marketing
- Retail Merchandising and International Business
- Social Psychology and Criminal Justice
- Strategic Communication and Business Management
- Travel and Leisure Planning
- Urban Planning and Environmental Sciences
- Wildlife Policy Management
- Women's Health Communication
“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
“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
"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
"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
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 are faculty members who work with a pre-BSS student after their proposal has received a “green light” from their BSS adviser 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:
- Sign off on the proposal faculty partner signature line if you unconditionally support it. An email approval to the student and their BSS academic adviser is also permissible.
- 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 adviser.
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
BSS Academic Advisers
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 Advisers
Want to refer a student to the BSS program? You can do so in the referral tab in My Ohio 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 My Ohio Success Network. If the plan is completed, their proposal is under review for final admission.
University College is home to the Bachelor of Specialized Studies (BSS) program. Contact the college office or the Director of Degree Programs with any BSS program-related questions you may have.
Athens Campus students: the first step to pursue a BSS degree is to attend one of our regular information sessions. Please call University College at 740-593-1935 to register.
Athens Campus | University College
Chubb Hall 140
Regional Campuses | Regional Higher Education Contacts
University College Main Office
Chubb Hall 140