Ohio University

Bachelor of Specialized Studies

 The Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.) program allows students to create an individualized, multidisciplinary degree program tailored to their individual interests and needs. In collaboration with faculty partners and a B.S.S. academic advisor, students design an area of concentration that stands as the equivalent of pre-established major.

The B.S.S. is a great fit for students who would like to combine courses from different academic departments to create a unique major and for students who 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. Additionally, the B.S.S. program is not an appropriate choice as a second-degree program (double major).

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

Examples of Past B.S.S. 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


 B.S.S. Spotlight 


Meet Leanne Ford and hear how she charted her own path with the help of the B.S.S. 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. 

Application Process 

Students seeking to declare the Bachelor of Specialized Studies major with 60 or more credit hours completed are required to work with advisors and faculty to achieve an appropriate program.

B.S.S. Information Sessions

Students must attend a B.S.S. information session prior to becoming a B.S.S. major and starting the proposal application process. During the COVID-19 pandemic, weekly B.S.S. information sessions are available online for students on all campuses. For print-based students, please connect with your designated B.S.S. academic advisor for an orientation.

Prospective students may connect with our program several ways:

  • In My Ohio Success Network, students may raise their hand for more information or an advisor may refer students to the B.S.S. program for more information.
  • Students may call 740.593.1935 to sign up for one of the B.S.S. information sessions.
  • For OHIO Online and regional campus students, please declare your intention to become pre-B.S.S. with your academic advisor. Please call 740.593.1935 if you need assistance.

Available Information Sessions

  • Thursday, April 29, 2021
    10- 11:30 am
  • Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    3 - 4:30 pm
  • Friday, May 14, 2021  
    1 - 2:30 pm
  • Tuesday, May 25, 2021
    3 - 4:30 pm
  • Thursday, June 10, 2021
    10 - 11:30 am
  • Thursday, June 24, 2021
    9:30 - 11 am
  • Wednesday, July 7, 2021
    2 - 3:30 pm
  • Monday, August 2, 2021
    1 - 2:30 pm 
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
    10:30 am - 12 pm

Your B.S.S. information session facilitator will email you 30-60 minutes prior to the meeting with a link to a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Already attended an information session? Contact University College if you did not receive the post-information session pre-B.S.S. major declaration link and application packet. Your attendance at the information session will be verified. Contact UC to schedule an advising appointment with your B.S.S. advisor to develop your application. Bring a draft of your proposal.

Declare the Pre-B.S.S. major 

Before officially declaring the B.S.S. major, students temporarily declare the pre-B.S.S. major. Students who have attended a B.S.S. information session are eligible to receive a pre-BSS major code link and proposal materials. Call 740-593-1935 if you are unable to find your “Next Steps to be Pre-B.S.S.” e-mail which contains those items. Only students who formally declared the pre-major code and whose attendance can be verified from an information/advising session will be added to the pre-major.

To be eligible to apply to Pre-BSS you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be currently enrolled
  • Have a minimum of a 2.0 accumulative grade point average

Declaring the B.S.S. major 

Once a student has declared the pre-B.S.S. major, a B.S.S. academic advisor is assigned. Students are then encouraged to complete a rough draft of the proposal and meet with their B.S.S. academic advisor as quickly as possible.

At your first B.S.S. advising meeting, you’ll review your “What-If pre-B.S.S.” DARS report to understand your own “construction zone” to build your major, agree to a timeline and adjust the My Ohio Success Network (MOSN) success plan accordingly, and review your rough draft. Depending upon the date of your meeting, discussing the adjustment of your current schedule to match your proposed draft may be important. Scheduling a 45-60 minute first advising session is strongly recommended.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with a career coach at the Career and Leadership Development Center to assist with the creation of their transition plan within the proposal. If writing assistance is needed to draft the proposal, please work with a tutor at the Student Writing Center.

Students will collaborate with their advisor to revise and refine their proposal until it receives a “green light” (meets all criteria on the checklist and faculty rubric for the proposal). At that point, students will begin working with identified faculty partners no later than the green light deadline.

Once faculty partners support the student’s proposal, a pre-B.S.S. student meets with their B.S.S. advisor once more to formalize the submission of their proposal (attaching and signing off on the checklist) for admission to the B.S.S. program.

The B.S.S Proposal Review Committee meets three times a year. Once a student’s proposal is admitted, their major code changes from pre-B.S.S. to B.S.S, and their approved curriculum appears on the DARS report.'



The Proposal

Proposal Template

Once students are pre-B.S.S. and have been oriented to the program, they’re encouraged to immediately create a draft in the proposal template. Bring this to the first meeting with your B.S.S. advisor. Seek assistance from the Student Writing Center if you need assistance drafting your proposal. Utilize the provided Proposal Template Guide for clarification on the template components.

Proposal Timeline

During your first meeting as an official pre-B.S.S. student, the proposal timeline will be discussed/adjusted in conjunction with your B.S.S. Success Plan in My Ohio Success Network. The timeline is designed to keep you on track with the key milestones to develop your B.S.S. proposal.

Proposal Deadlines

A proposal deadline means that a student’s program proposal is complete with a checklist and appropriate faculty partnership endorsements and advisor signatures.

A green light deadline is the final date by which a student’s proposal must receive a “green light” from their B.S.S. advisor before starting proposal collaboration with faculty partners. Students whose proposals do not have a green light by the appropriate deadline are ineligible to apply for residency that term. To receive a green light, the proposal must meet the criteria on the proposal checklist and faculty rubric, as determined by the advisor.

Summer 2021 residency deadline: Friday, July 30, 2021

  • First draft recommended no later than May 30, 2021
  • Green light deadline for summer 2021 residency: June 30, 2021

Fall 2021 residency deadline: Friday, October 15, 2021

  • First draft recommended no later than August 15, 2021
  • Green light deadline for fall 2021 residency: September 15, 2021

Spring 2022 residency deadline: Tuesday, February 15, 2022

  • First draft recommended no later than November 15, 2021
  • Green light deadline for spring 2022 residency: January 15, 2022

Course Substitution Proposal

An approved proposal becomes your required major curriculum on your DARS. If you need or want to modify courses in your proposal, you can propose a substitution by working with your advisor to determine an appropriate pathway. 


University College is home to the Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.) program. Contact the college office or the Director of Degree Programs with any B.S.S. program-related questions you may have.

Athens Campus students: the first step to pursue a B.S.S. degree is to attend one of our regular information sessions. Please call University College at 740.593.1935 to register.

Athens Campus | University College

University College Main Office

Chubb Hall 140

Regional Campuses | Regional Higher Education Contacts


University College Main Office
Chubb Hall 140


Jennifer Kellner-Muscar


Tori Swarm


Kim Keffer


Ray Rotella

OHIO Online 

OHIO Online Academic Advisors

Student Testimonials 

“When I learned about the B.S.S. 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, B.S.S. 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, B.S.S. 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, B.S.S. 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, B.S.S in politics of the Africana Community


The Richard K. Brackin Scholarship was established in 1998 to honor Dr. Richard Keith Brackin as he retired from University College. Brackin served as director of the Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.) program for 19 years and directed the college’s programs for non-traditional students. The scholarship recognizes his efforts with these two groups of students. This year, we will award two scholarships, at $650 each.

The Brackin Scholarship is available to non-traditional B.S.S. students (as described in the application) with a minimum 2.80 accumulative grade point average who are returning fall semester for academic year 2021-2022. Applicants must be enrolled in at least six (6) hours of credit. Applicants will be evaluated based on academic achievement (including any transfer work), a written statement, and three listed references (including the student’s B.S.S. academic advisor). Applications must be submitted by Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

2021 Brackin Scholarship application 

2021 Brackin Scholarship Rubric

The 2022 Brackin Scholarship will open December 1, 2021 and remain open until mid-February 2022 for B.S.S. students enrolling in academic year 2022-2023.


It is recommended that B.S.S. students participate in an internship. Internships build up skills, knowledge, resumes, and professional relations. They provide a "test-drive" of a desired career path, and an opportunity to learn how academic theory relates to real-world environments.

SPST 4910: Internship


SPST 4910 is the internship course for B.S.S. students. Consult the SPST 4910 Internship Information Sheet for specific information like credit hours, course requirements, grading and cost.

Registering for SPST 4910

  • Talk with your B.S.S. advisor about how an internship fits in to your individualized degree program.
  • Find an internship that is right for you.
  • Obtain a copy of the internship description on company letterhead and complete the online internship application.

Past B.S.S. Internship Experiences

  • Passion Works Intern

  • Operations and Support Intern

  • Early Intervention Intern

  • Butterfly Field Technician

    “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 also forge connections with natural Resources conservation professionals.”-Hannah Kopp, B.S.S.; Natural Resource Conservation

  • Grant Writing Assistant

  • Recreation Director Intern

Find an Internship

Identify what you hope to gain from an internship experience.

  • Skills approach: student identifies a specific set of skills that s/he would like to develop
  • Career approach: student intends to gain experience in a specific career field/company
  • Can be a combination of both
  • There are a variety of resources to help students identify skillsets needed for specific career paths as well as skillsets that are valuable in all fields (transferable).
  • Schedule an appointment with a career coach via Handshake
  • Talk with your BSS advisor

Identify what you have to offer an intern partner.

What strengths, skills, knowledge, abilities, and experiences could be valuable to an internship site? Examples include excellent written communication skills, CPR and other certifications, etc. (skills can be transferable or job specific). Think about what you have learned in your classes.  Review syllabi from previous or current courses.

Internship search sites

Internship Descriptions

You can work with your internship supervisors using the following websites for guidance creating an internship description if they don't have one:

  • Chegg Internships 
    This site has a “what to include in an internship description” as well as a variety of sample internship descriptions.
  • NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition
    This site provides a clear definition and criteria for defining what constitutes an internship experience as well as measures for determining whether the experience should be paid or unpaid.
  • U.S. Department of Labor Internship Fact Sheet 
    This fact sheet provides general information to help determine whether interns and students working for “for-profit” employers are entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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.

Information for Faculty and Advisors

Faculty Partners

Faculty Partners are faculty members who work with a pre-B.S.S. student after their proposal has received a “green light” from their B.S.S. 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 B.S.S. Liaison.

A pre-B.S.S. 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-B.S.S. 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 B.S.S. 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 B.S.S. advisor.  

Faculty Reviewers

Faculty Reviewers serve on the B.S.S. 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, at cohara@ohio.edu to get credit for your service as a faculty partner or reviewer.

B.S.S. Academic Advisors

B.S.S. 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. Please note that a deadline extension may jeopardize a graduation timeline.

B.S.S./A.I.S. 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-B.S.S.

B.S.S. 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 B.S.S. major program requirements. Extensive documentation is required for extraordinary circumstances. These are rarely approved.

Non-B.S.S. Academic Advisors

Want to refer a student to the B.S.S. 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 B.S.S. Information Session. Please do not use a traditional Update of Program form to change their major.  

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