A research university provides many opportunities for undergraduates to learn in settings that suit a wide variety of learning styles, talents, and professional aspirations. Beyond the classroom lie opportunities for individual and collaborative research projects, creative literary work, the plastic and performing arts, service learning and internships, distance and distributive learning, overseas study, and a range of other activities. To track an idea from its genesis in research to its application as the solution of a contemporary problem, students must be able to take advantage of all these learning modalities.
We know that students learn differently, based upon their personal talents and preferences for different learning environments. We know that some students learn best when deeply engaged in personal programs of individual research, while others acquire knowledge most effectively from their peers, in collaborative efforts.
For that reason, USC Dornsife offers a new curricular structure that enables nontraditional learning experiences to be credited at this university and across institutions, while allowing self-motivated, independent learners to combine academic resources in a particularly rich learning experience.
USC Dornsife offers students the opportunity to create Individual Programs of Study (IPOS), through which an individual may design a "curriculum" consisting of directed research, service learning and internships, creative artistic production, and any other educational experiences that might be relevant to the proposed program of study.
A committee of three faculty members reviews each student's proposal and decide 1) if it makes sense as a coherent educational experience, 2) if the proposed study is aligned with the learning outcomes identified by the student, and 3) how many units of (letter-graded) academic credit should be awarded, from four to eighteen.
For example, a student planning to spend the spring semester of her junior year in Paris might propose an Individual Program of Study that includes a specified number of hours of intensive language classes, a directed research project on French cave paintings, an on-line course, and an internship at the embassy, the Louvre, or EuroDisney, arranged through the Career Planning and Placement Center.
Students whose Individual Programs of Study have been approved register for:
MDA 450 Individual Program of Study: [Subtitle, e.g., Earthquakes and Community in Los Angeles]
(4-18, max. 18 units)
An individual educational project approved by a faculty committee, combining directed research with internships, service learning, artistic or literary production, and/or other relevant educational activities.
For further information, contact Richard Fliegel, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, USC Dornsife at 213.740.2961 or firstname.lastname@example.org.