May 2, 2024

Customize a degree that fits your goals

Opening an apple orchard has been Grace Schmidt’s dream for years. NDSU’s Bachelor of University Studies program is helping make that dream a reality. 

Originally a business major, Schmidt, a senior from Alexandria, Minnesota, wanted to expand her education. Thinking back to her love for baking, Schmidt sought to incorporate hospitality into her degree.   

After meeting with Jessie Bauer, the assistant director of Student Success Initiatives in the Career and Advising Center, Schmidt determined that emphasizing business, hospitality and plant sciences best complements her career goals.

“I personally think it’s really important to have a wide area of knowledge in things. It just helps to know at least a little bit of everything,” Schmidt said. 

The University Studies degree allows students to design a plan that works for their interests and post-graduation goals. Students in the program work with an academic advisor to tailor a plan that will provide a diverse and personalized education. Each degree plan is reviewed and approved by a committee.    

The program is a good fit for students in many different situations,” Bauer said. “Some students have particular interests in which a traditional degree doesn’t fit. They may be able to combine different minors in a way that creates a curriculum very unique to that student. Other students may have career goals that don’t require a particular degree program, so they want to create something that is unique to their interests and helps them gain the skills they want.” 

“Finally, the program is good for those who need a more flexible route to finishing their degree,” Bauer said. “Because they can choose the courses they take and the way in which they take them, which includes online or in-person classes, they can create something that meets their goals but also fits into their life circumstances.”

The career outcomes with a University Studies degree are vast. Bauer said some students in the program have prepared for professional programs after graduating and others have entered careers in business, government, entrepreneurship, non-profits and more.   

Some of the courses Schmidt has taken include a class centered around event management, where she got to think more about the use of venues for her future apple orchard. Among her most memorable plant sciences courses was a vegetable crop productions class that introduced Schmidt to rhubarb and expanded her ideas on her future orchard.  

“I had to do a research project on rhubarb, which is something I could grow because you use that in desserts and stuff. I feel like that helped me to get to know about that plant specifically, but it also gave me ideas about how to research other things.”  

Schmidt has taken classes both in-person and online, which has worked well for her schedule. 

Throughout her degree, Schmidt said professors in the various departments have been helpful and supportive. Additionally, Schmidt said Bauer has provided her guidance along the way to help achieve her goals. 

“Jessie’s always been great. She’s always very helpful,” Schmidt said. 

Schmidt advises those interested in the University Studies degree to check out the options available to make a plan that works for them and to ensure they’re enrolling in the classes they want to take.

“I would recommend it to anyone who wants to make learning easier and to have those different areas of study,” she said.

Apply today to create a path that works for you or schedule a tour to see what NDSU has to offer. 

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