Adult Degree Program

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Adult Degree Program

The Adult Degree Program (ADP) at the University of South Alabama has been designed by the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies to give adult students (generally 25 and older) a variety of options in earning a bachelor’s degree tailored to their individual educational goals. Students in the Adult Degree Program may earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree through the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies (IST) and tailor their program of study to meet their individual needs through one of seven concentrations.

A student from ADP

Students in the Adult Degree Program may schedule classes during the day, in the evenings, on the weekends, or online. They may select courses from more than 30 academic departments in the University.


The Adult Degree Program begins with a foundation course that helps students review effective adult learning methods, clarify goals, and become acquainted with resources at the University and the nature of interdisciplinary studies. They have access to excellent advising before entry and throughout their educational experience.


An interdisciplinary program allows adut students to explore the approaches of several different academic disciplines to a particular area of interest. Ongoing guidance and support of advisors and faculty in choosing a field of study and appropriate classes enable every student to meet desired educational goals. Students may receive credit for prior learning as part of their degree program.


Student: Derick Juzang

You are invited to listen to Interdisciplinary Studies majors talk about their experience at USA. Join us!

Program Structure

ADP Program Structure

Foundation Course:   Each ADP student begins with an introductory course to help clarify goals and to understand the nature of interdisciplinary studies.  Students entering the program as freshmen and sophomores take AIS 101; juniors and seniors take AIS 301.


General Education:  All ADP degrees include a broad base of liberal arts courses in four general course areas:
                Area I - Written Composition - 2 courses
                Area II - Humanities, Fine Arts, Literature, and Oral Communication - 4 courses
                Area III - Laboratory Sciences and Mathematics - 3 courses
                Area IV - History, Social, and Behavioral Sciences - 4 courses


Department Requirements:  The Interdisciplinary Studies department requirements insure that graduates achieve critical thinking skills and a broad understanding of adult development and cultural diversity.  This set of courses is designed to prepare graduates to enter the modern work force which is increasingly technologically advanced, globally-oriented, and culturally diverse.  Competency is required in five areas, with one course in each area (15 hours total):

- Computer Applications
- Advanced/Professional Writing
- Statistical Applications
- Human Development
- Cultural Diversity


Concentration:  Each student collaborates with an IST Academic Advisor to design a focused program of study made up of related course work from at least three different disciplines.  A minimum of 48 hours in lower (100- to 200-level) and upper division (300- to 400-level) course work is required with at least four courses in each discipline.


Senior Research Thesis or Internship:  A sequence of two required courses assists ADP students with an in-depth research project or internship relating to their concentration. 

Adult Degree Program Concentrations

The Interdisciplinary Studies (IST) degree allows students to design an individualized, interdisciplinary program of study leading to a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree.  Each student collaborates with an IST Academic Advisor to design a focused program of study made up of related course work from at least three different academic disciplines.  A minimum of 48 hours in lower-division (100 to 200 level) and upper-division (300 to 400 level) course work is required with at least four courses (12 hours) in each discipline. 


Administrative Sciences: a field of study composed primarily of course work from business and related fields, such as communication, information technology, etc. Examples of an emphasis might be "Sales and Service" or "Computer Support Services."


Applied Sciences: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the sciences and technical disciplines. Examples of an emphasis might be "Environmental Studies" or "Life Sciences."


Applied Arts: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the fine arts and humanities, but might include scientific or technical course work as well. An example of an emphasis might be "Publishing Services."


Community Services: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the social sciences (especially political science and criminal justice), education, or health-related disciplines. Examples of an emphasis might be "Public Safety" or "EMS Administration."


Human Services: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the social sciences (especially psychology and sociology), education, or health-related disciplines. Examples of an emphasis might be "Gerontological Studies" or "Child Advocacy."


Liberal Studies: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the humanities and social sciences to meet the unique demands of personal or professional growth. An example of an emphasis might be "Political Communications."


Professional Development: a field of study composed of course work suited to the unique demands of a particular career path.




The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers a curriculum that allows students to attain personal/educational/ professional goals by integrating and synthesizing multiple disciplines.

To honor this intent and definition, curriculum choice will include no more than one discipline per department and at least two colleges/schools. In those cases wherein a student chooses two disciplines in one college, those disciplines must be distinct. For example, in the College of Education, students may choose an Education discipline and a Physical Education discipline. Prerequisite courses from outside of a department’s discipline that are within the same College may be counted as supporting courses, but may not be counted in that discipline.


An exception to the two college guideline is that students may choose three separate and varied disciplines within the College of Arts and Sciences. Under rare circumstances, other considerations may be offered but must be approved by the Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Dean of the School of Continuing Education and Special Programs.


Adult Degree Program: Course Offerings

Class Schedules for Upcoming Terms:

Class Schedules for Current or Past Terms:

Course Descriptions:

To view the entire USA class schedule via PAWS, click the PAWS icon:

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Tortoise Award

The typical adult learner must often surmount many obstacles in the path toward degree completion. He or she shoulders adult responsibilities including caring for children and aging parents, working full-time, overseeing the upkeep of home and  automobile, and engaging in civic, religious, professional, or charitable organizations. This means that most of his or her time is necessarily spent managing the adult citizen’s burdens in life, and there is little time left over to devote to college studies.

The adult who returns to college to complete the bachelor’s degree is, necessarily, a patient and persistent person, knowing that because he or she only has enough spare time to take one or two courses each semester, it will take a long time to finish.  

It is for this very reason that we are so proud of each of our adult degree program students. So, during every senior banquet, the Interdisciplinary Studies Department presents the Tortoise Award to the one graduating adult degree program student who has taken the longest time to complete his or her bachelor’s degree. The name of the award refers to Aesop’s fable, The Hare and the Tortoise, the moral of which is “slow but steady wins the race.” Our Tortoise Award is designed to recognize and honor the persistence of that adult learner.

Spring 2012 - Andrea Holts (left) receives the ADP Tortoise Award from Karen Goodwin, ADP Advisor.

Fall 2011 - Mary Sayer (right) receives the ADP Tortoise Award from Karen Goodwin, ADP Advisor.

Spring 2011 - Edward Foster (left) receives the ADP Tortoise Award from ADP Advisor Karen Goodwin.
Spring 2010 - Glenn Dutton (right) receives the ADP Tortoise Awards from ADP Advisor Karen Goodwin.

Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society for Adults Students

Alpha Sigma Lambda was formed in 1946 to recognize adult students who achieve academic excellence while facing competing interests of family, community and work. Inductees must be Adult Degree Program majors who are in the top 20% of students who: 


1) have completed a minimum of 24 hours of graded course work in residence at the University of South Alabama;


2) have a minimum GPA of 3.2;


3) have a minimum of 12 hours of Liberal Arts/Sciences courses included in the 24 hours taken in residence.


The USA Theta Tau Chapter of this prestigious national honorary society is a student-run organization with a faculty advisor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies.


The induction fee of $30.00 covers chapter dues, lapel pin, membership certificate and other benefits, including eligibility for ASL Foundation scholarships. Members in good standing have the opportunity to purchase and wear Alpha Sigma lambda honor cords at commencement.



For additional information, please contact:

Eric M. Moody, PhD

USA Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Office phone:  (251) 460-6263


Select the graphic above to visit the ASL website

Adult Degree Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Bullet How is the Interdisciplinary Studies Adult Degree Program (ADP) different from other degree programs at USA or other colleges?

A: Most degree programs are very structured, outlining in detail degree requirements.  The Adult Degree Program allows students more flexibility because they actually design a large portion of their degree (about 48 semester hours) through a “Concentration.” The ADP degree, like other degrees offered at USA, is accredited and leads to a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science, depending on the student’s choice of concentrations.


Bullet Who is eligible for the Adult Degree Program?

A: A student who satisfies general University of South Alabama admission requirements and is at least 25 years of age and/or is balancing the adult responsibilities of work, family, community and education is eligible for enrollment in the Adult Degree Program.


Bullet What is an “Interdisciplinary” degree?

A:  Students pursuing a degree through the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies create a concentration, rather than having a single area of study, by selecting courses from three (3) or four (4) related academic disciplines offered by USA.  The student’s choice of disciplines determines their concentration.  The ADP offers seven (7) concentrations including: Administrative Sciences, Applied Sciences, Applied Arts, Community Services, Human Services, Liberal Studies and Professional Development.


Bullet I’m not sure I can handle college.  Is the Adult Degree Program easier than other college degrees?

A:  The difference in the ADP and traditional degree programs is primarily its flexibility, rather than its degree of difficulty.  In fact, the majority of the courses are taken from the regular university curriculum. As with all degrees offered at USA, the ADP must meet the rigorous requirements of accreditation by the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS). The ADP requirements, especially in the area of written and oral communication skills, are sometimes more rigorous than other degree programs.


Adult students who are concerned about their academic readiness for college are encouraged to explore courses offered through the Department of Developmental Studies and are required to take placement tests in math. All ADP students are also required to complete the department’s foundation early in the program of study.  This course provides information and assignments that help adults assess their academic readiness and learning styles, develop good study habits, clarify their goals, and help them get acquainted with resources available at the university, thereby enabling successful completion of a college degree.


Bullet How long does it take to complete the Adult Degree Program?

A:  The answer to this question depends on several variables. The ADP requires that a student complete a minimum of 128 semester hours (which is standard for any undergraduate degree at USA), or about 43 courses.  Variables include the amount of transfer credit the student has and the number of courses that a student can reasonably complete each semester. While some adult students can attend full-time (four or more courses per semester), most adults work full-time and can only take one or two courses a semester, which means it might take longer for them to complete a degree than a traditional college student.  


Bullet Other colleges advertise that their degree can be completed in 2 years and I will only have to go 1 or 2 nights a week.   Can I do this with the Adult Degree Program?

A:  Colleges which advertise degree completion in 2 years may offer “fast track” or intensive course formats, which means that class time is compressed into a shorter period of time, for example, five weeks for a course as opposed to 15 weeks required for a regular semester at USA. The ADP is not a “fast track” program, and students take the majority of their courses from the regular course offerings at USA.  Fast track programs are usually limited in the types of degree that can be completed, and such programs usually require that students have already completed at least half of their degree. The ADP offers more options through the interdisciplinary concentration because students can choose courses from more than 25 academic departments at USA.


Bullet Can the Adult Degree Program be completed with only evening, weekend and/or online courses?

A:  Yes.  Due to the flexibility of designing a large portion of their degree, ADP students are usually able to complete their entire degree by taking only evening, weekend, and online classes.  However, there are some academic departments at USA which offer few, if any, courses at these times.  ADP students may be restricted in completing disciplines in these academic areas. The ADP academic advisors work closely with our students directing them to the courses that are available at the needed times so that they will not be delayed in completing their degree.


Bullet I have completed an associate degree.  Will that credit count towards the Adult Degree Program? 

A:  Yes.  Academic credit from most junior or community colleges will transfer to USA and apply towards the ADP.  A maximum of 64 semester credit hours can be transferred from a community college. However, USA and most senior universities do not accept vocational/technical courses.  Only academic credit for the same or similar courses offered at USA can be transferred.  Also, courses taken at many private vocational/technical colleges will not transfer due to the lack of required accreditation. The Offices of Admission and Registrar have the final word on transfer credit accepted at USA.*


Bullet What about transferring credit from other colleges in Alabama or in other states?  Does college credit ever “expire?”

A:  While undergraduate college credit may become outdated, it never expires. The best way to determine if credit from other colleges or USA credit from other degree programs will transfer and be applicable to the Adult Degree Program is to meet with an ADP academic advisor for a tentative evaluation. Because of the flexibility of the ADP, many students find that a larger portion of transfer credit actually applies to the ADP degree as opposed to other more structured degrees offered at USA or other colleges.  This means fewer required courses and less time to complete the degree. (*See note above)


Bullet Will the ADP give me credit for my military experience or any training I have received through employers?

A:  USA uses the American Council of Education (ACE) recommendations for evaluation of credit from military or non-collegiate workforce training programs.  Additionally, students may be eligible to receive credit for prior learning experience by taking standardized exams available through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), or by participation in the Prior Learning Assessment by Portfolio program.  Because of the flexibility of the ADP, credits earned through these “alternate” routes are generally more readily used toward the degree compared to other degree programs.  A maximum of 32 hours of “alternate” credit may be counted toward a degree at USA.


Bullet What kind of job can I get with an ADP degree?

A:  Many adults who enroll in the Adult Degree Program are planning a career change or may be entering the job market for the first time; others hope the degree will provide more opportunities or a promotion where they are currently employed.  Many ADP students have as their goal admission to graduate school upon completion of their undergraduate degree.


While we cannot assure students that a job or promotion will be waiting for them upon graduation, we take the goals of our students very seriously. ADP advisors and faculty work individually with both prospective and enrolled adult students to determine the personal and professional goals of each person. ADP students continue to work closely with the department academic advisor throughout their enrollment in their selection of courses, disciplines and a concentration that will help them make their goals a reality.  Students are also strongly encouraged to meet with a counselor in the Career Services Center on campus.  We also recognize that the ADP is not for everyone, and when needed, we will refer students to advisors in other USA degree programs.


Bullet How does a student get started in the Adult Degree Program? 

A:  Individuals interested in the Adult Degree Program may attend one of the information sessions offered each semester or schedule an individual appointment with an advisor.  All prospective students are encouraged to meet with the ADP academic advisor before enrolling in the program to determine if their education goals can be met through an interdisciplinary studies degree.  The academic advisor also assists new students by providing information on admission (or readmission) to USA, registration for classes, financial aid and other services offered by the University.