Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree

Interdisciplinary Studies and Portfolio-Based Assessment

The Office of Professional and Interdisciplinary Studies is extremely pleased to offer returning adult student the opportunity to earn academic from Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)--a program unique to the BIS degree program. 

The University of North Alabama has approved a prior learning assessment initiative for adult learners who, through their professional work history and direct work experiences, have met the stated learning outcomes associated with courses offered at UNA.  UNA has long recognized that learning takes place outside of the classroom.  Study abroad experiences, service learning, and internships are all excellent and valid strategies for students to learn as they engage in cultural, volunteer and professional activities.  PLA reinforces that orientation but operates under the assumption that adult students have, through their professional experiences, already learned course content.  They need an opportunity to express their knowledge and IDS-PLA is the new vehicle for that!

Degree-seeking students in the Interdisciplinary Studies Degree program (BIS) are encouraged to enroll in IDS-PLA.  This online course, which may be taken for academic credit through the University or taken through the Continuing Education Program (beginning Spring 2015), teaches students how to write a portfolio and have it ready for evaluation.  Students will receive instruction from faculty trained in developing student writing skills and experienced in portfolio development and presentation.  IDS-PLA students will prepare up to three portfolios matched to the learning outcomes of three courses for which they are seeking credit.  Once completed, portfolios will be evaluated and graded by course-content specialists.  Successful portfolios will result in students receiving credit on their UNA academic transcript for the course related to the specific portfolio.

Currently, the IDS-PLA course is a credit-bearing course.  Students will earn credit toward meeting graduation requirements by taking IDS-PLA.  The cost for this course based on UNA's current rate for undergraduate tuition.  In addition to the tuition cost for IDS-PLA there is a $120.00 fee for each prepared portfolio that is sent out for evaluation by a course-content specialist.  If a student prepared 3 portfolios while enrolled in IDS-PLA and each portfolio was approved, then the student would earn 12 credit hours of coursework (3 credit hours for IDS-PLA and 3 credit hours for each approved portfolio).  This represents a substantial cost savings for the student since they would otherwise pay approximately $700.00 for each 3 credit hour course.

BIS students wishing to take advantage of the PLA initiative are encouraged to contact the UNA Office of Professional and Interdisciplinary Studies for more information.  Our staff will help you prepare for IDS-PLA in advance of actual registration by discussing your prior learning experience and matching it with UNA coursework.  An application form must be completed prior to registering for IDS-PLA.

All IDS-PLA students must have completed EN 111 and EN 112 with grade of C or higher to enroll in IDS-PLA given its intensive writing emphasis.