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University Studies: A new outlook on your college degree

Photo credit by Kristi Jones

Lipscomb University offers a variety of degree pathways that allow students to study for their desired careers. But what if your interests don’t align with a set curriculum? Now Lipscomb offers an option called “university studies.”  

A university studies degree is a program that allows students to customize their own curriculum, as the degree is not tied to any one department or college. If a student wants to emphasize on a certain skill set, but a pre-existing curriculum doesn’t fit the bill, the university studies degree allows them the flexibility to combine courses and teach them the skills they are seeking to gain.

There are still requirements, though. Students must complete general education, but they get to choose classes and materials that will ultimately become their degree concentration. Students are also responsible for determining what capstone class will be appropriate for their area of study as a requirement for graduation.

Dr. Flora Mhlanga, the Associate Provost of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, explained this unique degree by saying, “It is a program that allows students to be creative in building an undergraduate degree that is of interest to them.”

Mhlanga went on to say, “I feel like it is of advantage since students get to create what they want in a degree program and they get to gain skills that they want to gain in that particular degree program, so they are looking at various areas that we offer in the curriculum and at the university, and bringing the best courses that they can bring together in those areas in order to form a concentration.”

Additionally, with a university studies degree, students can combine multiple areas of interest into one pathway. If the concentrations are related, they can evenly distribute the skills they want to develop and have them work in tandem. 

Alaizha Bridges, a sophomore university studies major from Nashville, Tennessee, chose two areas of concentration: general business and entrepreneurship. “I always knew that I wanted to get a general understanding of the business world, but not necessarily all of the aspects that come with the major for business.” Bridges said. “I knew that I wanted to do general business, and have that general understanding, and I also wanted to dive into entrepreneurship and saw that it was a minor. When researching, I was able to find the field of university studies and understand how that degree worked; I thought, “This is perfect; this is what I’ve always wanted!” 

Although unconventional, the university studies degree is in place as a catalyst, of sorts, to help students build specially curated skills and create a degree that will be more specific to the career prospects they are seeking upon graduating from college.