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Individual Programs of Study (IPOS)

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 College 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. 
Individual Programs of Study 
USC College 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. 
Contact: Richard Fliegel 
Director, Interdisciplinary Studies (INDS) and 
Assistant Dean of Academic Programs, USC College

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 fliegel@dornsife.usc.edu.