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Bachelor of Arts–Graduation Requirements (details)

Bachelor of Arts

Credits for completed projects are given equivalents in semester units by faculty advisers, according to criteria and procedures noted below and in “Grading and Awarding Credit.”  Stated in semester-units, WISR’s requirements for the Bachelor of Arts are as follows:

124 units minimum for graduation, including

40 units in basic or general studies
44 or more units in the major field
40 units in the major field and/or electives

WISR faculty award credit for the completion of student projects by using as a baseline the fact that most conventional undergraduate classes carry 3-5 semester units of credit. In each project, a WISR student does readings and/or practical and experiential work, and writes a paper that typically involves reflections on the work, articulation of the student’s insights, and some creative formulations. WISR faculty evaluate the quality of the student’s learning in the project, the quality of the written product (and any other product or evidence of accomplishment and learning), as well as the quantity of student effort involved. They then assess the project’s worth in terms of the 3-5-unit standard.

WISR faculty have found that students learn better, and integrate the various aspects of their work better, if their projects are somewhat larger and more intense than those required by a conventional undergraduate class. Consequently, WISR undergraduates more often earn 4-8 units for a project, although variations in this are common. The culminating major project, the senior thesis, usually involves at least 12 semester units of credit.

Each student must study at least one (1) year at WISR to receive a Bachelor’s degree, no matter what credit is awarded for previous work. The length of time for the entire program depends on how much time the student can devote to their studies and how well their studies can be integrated into their work and other life activities. Most WISR students find that it is quite easy and very meaningful to integrate WISR students into their lives. In any case, WISR is not a route to a quick and easy degree.

No specific minor field is required, because at WISR the major field is expected to be sufficiently interdisciplinary to involve the student in more than one traditional area of study.

Each undergraduate, when admitted, must have completed a substantial, year-long course in each of three areas (social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences), or must complete a significant project at WISR dealing with methods of inquiry in each neglected area, and applying those methods in a critical analysis of a topic interesting to the student.

During their work at WISR, all students are helped to improve their communication skills–both writing and oral communication–“across the curriculum.” This is accomplished in part by requiring students from the beginning to articulate their learning goals, ideas, and activities to faculty members in individual consultations, and to write and rewrite draft project reports in response to close faculty analyses and comments, both written and oral.   Faculty consistently support and encourage students to “write in their own voice.”  Students may lead and take part in seminars, in part to help build their oral communication skills.

Foundational work in social inquiry is considered basic to study at WISR, and is required of all students, regardless of special interests. This includes doing one project in Social Action Research and one in Theories of Social Analysis and Change.

Every undergraduate student must complete a culminating major project showing her or his ability to do a serious, substantial study, if possible with a practical significance, in an area of strong personal interest.