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About CMS

The Center for Multidisciplinary Studies (CMS) is about you.  Your ideas, your interests, your goals. Our degree is committed to helping you be innovative and have a voice in your degree curriculum.  Some students feel that choosing a major from a single academic program of study is limiting and does not reflect their range of talents and interests. Others want to pursue an education at their own pace. With CMS, you have the ability to help create your academic plan of study that not only fits your academic and career goals, but fits your life (many of our programs can be completed online or through a combination of online and on-campus classes). To do this, you and an advisor work closely together to design a degree that best meets your individual ideas, interests, and goals through careful consideration of all courses RIT has to offer. 

We look forward to hearing your ideas.


Our Mission

The Center for Multidisciplinary Studies is committed to meeting the current and future professional needs of its students, their employers, and the global community. It does this by developing and offering undergraduate and graduate-level degrees and academic programs with one-on-one advisement, flexibility in the method of delivery, wide accessibility, non-traditional approaches to earning credit, and customization while incorporating a multidisciplinary curriculum.

Our History

  • In 1966, the College of Continuing Education (CCE) was developed to help working men and women expand their skills and increase their knowledge of business, science and art, while still being able to work and have the flexibility they needed. In 1986, CCE issued “A Proposal for New Academic Programs in the College of Continuing Education.” Specifically the new programs were designed to provide:
  • the student with a sound, high quality, technical background requisite for today’s society;
  • the student with the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary program of study, individually tailored to their career and personal situations;
  • …the students with a foundation in liberal arts and the sciences;
  • The employer with employees who are educated in areas that are appropriate for contemporary occupations;
  • The opportunity of recognition of prior learning.
  • And, the following new credentials were offered:
  • Applied Arts & Science, Diploma
  • Applied Arts & Science, AAS
  • Applied Arts & Science, BS

Each of the proposed degree programs consisted of a core component of mathematics, science, humanities, and social sciences; and a professional component, which included one or more areas of concentration.  An area of concentration is a series of courses in a specific field, which will provide an adequate background for the student to possess a reasonable understanding and knowledge of the particular field.[1]

Combining up to four professional concentrations, degrees were designed to fit and meet the needs of the working adult. Classes were available in the evenings and also through a pre-taped television course. RIT established many locations in the Rochester area to make it easier for people to attend.

In 1995, CCE proposed the establishment of a new graduate program of study: the Master of Science in Cross-Disciplinary Professional Studies. (NB: the name was changed in the early 2000’s to the Master of Science in Professional Studies.) The rationale for the new program, which was approved in 1996, was much the same as for the earlier programs: a flexible, individualized program of professional study at the post-baccalaureate level. The program consisted of two or three professional concentrations composed of coherent sets of professionally related graduate courses and appropriate electives.[2]

In 1996, CCE was absorbed into the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies (CMS), and the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST). The merger was an effort to enhance and strengthen RIT's commitment to responsive, successful, and mutually beneficial external partnerships. RIT was responding to the changing needs of its partners to remain a key resource to business and industry for research, technology transfer, cooperative education, and training for human resource development. It was believed this move would enhance RIT's ability to create new entrepreneurial opportunities and facilitate their implementation.[3]

In 2010, the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies was re-established under a new set of operating principles in the Division of Academic Affairs. CMS continued to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as a small number of undergraduate and advanced certificates. Additionally, CMS was meeting the needs of students at the American University of Kosovo (AUK) and RIT-Dubai.

In 2012, CMS was incorporated in to the newly formed Innovative Learning Institute (ILI). The ILI is chartered to offer completely on-line courses and credentials to graduate students—anywhere, anytime. This is being accomplished through the virtual on-line campus: RIT Online. Given that CMS is RIT’s largest provider of online courses, the merger of CMS with the ILI seemed appropriate at the time.


Today the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies (CMS) is RIT’s academic unit for individualized degrees, custom-designed to best meet students’ ideas, interests, and career goals through careful consideration of all courses RIT has to offer, including CMS’ portfolio of multidisciplinary courses.  Our degrees are committed to helping students be innovative and having a voice in their degree curriculum.  We do this by developing and offering undergraduate and graduate-level credentials with one-on-one advisement, on-campus and on-line courses, credit for prior and competency-based learning, and customized study plans while incorporating a multidisciplinary curriculum. 

The Center serves over 800 full-time equivalent domestic undergraduate and graduate students and provides academic programs to over 400 full-time equivalent students at the American University of Kosovo (AUK). CMS offers three undergraduate credentials in Applied Arts and Science; an MS degree in Professional Studies; and several advanced, professional certificate programs. All credentials have a strong career focus and employ a multidisciplinary approach to learning. CMS is the largest provider of on-line courses at RIT and its credentials can be obtained completely on-campus or on-line.

The Center for Multidisciplinary Studies is also home to Outreach Education and Training (OET). OET provides multidisciplinary, educational opportunities to corporate cohorts or fields of professionals. Additionally, OET supports the PrometricTM Computer-based Testing Center and the OSHA® Education Center.

During the 2012-13 academic year, 19 AAS degrees and 310 BS degrees were awarded to CMS undergraduate students.  In addition, CMS graduate students earned 52 advanced certificates and 39 MS degrees.  Many of these students started at RIT outside of CMS, a clear indication of CMS’s role in maximizing the retention and degree completion of the Institute’s students. 

The CMS Outreach Education and Training (OET) program for Xerox Corporation included 135 students who graduated from RIT and an additional 123 took classes leading to an RIT diploma in Applied Arts and Science.  During the past two years, OET has returned a net surplus of more than $1.3 million to the Institute.[4]

[1] A Proposal for New Academic Programs in the College of Continuing Education, 1986.

[2] Proposal: Master of Science in Cross-Disciplinary Professional Studies, 1996.

[4] “CMS Response to Provost’s Request,” December 6, 2013.

American University in Kosovo

It all started with a vision of a high quality, American-style university for Kosovo, an institution to promote economic and institutional development by educating the next generation of leaders. RIT’s global presence in Kosovo (A.U.K.) is the result of that vision. In March of 2002, community, government and business leaders began to explore the possibilities. Initial funding came from the Fund for the Reconstruction of Kosova, made up of the voluntary contributions of the Kosovar Diaspora living all over the world. In 2003, this group working in collaboration with RIT founded A.U.K. 

Today, over 600 graduate and undergraduate students are enrolled at this university. Undergraduate students earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Arts and Sciences through the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies with an option for professional concentration areas in management, information technology, public policy, economics and statistics, and media and graphic communications. Students can also earn a liberal arts minor in policy, economics, legal studies and international relations. Graduate students earn a Master of Science degree in Professional Studies with concentrations in service management, project management, infrastructure development, and public service. RIT and A.U.K. provide the foundation for students to not only adapt to the constant change within the technical, managerial and business environments, but also to be its leaders.

RIT’s degree programs in Kosovo attract students from more than 20 different countries. It offers students a great opportunity to interact in a multinational classroom and get better prepared for the globalized world we live in. The university strives to demonstrate its philosophy of tolerance and diversity, promoting these same values within the greater society.

To learn more about A.U.K., visit their website, or contact us at RIT Global,

Faculty & Staff

Ann Marie Arlauckas
Ann Marie Arlauckas
Test Center Administrator
Peter Boyd
Peter Boyd
Lecturer/Graduate Program Coordinator
Abby B. Cantwell
Abby B. Cantwell
Manager of Student and Academic Services
Julia Coyle
Julia Coyle
Staff Assistant
Michelle Firnstein
Michelle Firnstein
Sr. Academic Advisor
Wendy Giuliano
Wendy Giuliano
Adjunct Academic Advisor
Dr. James Hall
Dr. James Hall
Executive Director and Interim Graduate Director
Thomas Hanney
Thomas Hanney
Senior Lecturer
Christine Lang
Christine Lang
Staff Assistant
Talya Meyerowitz
Talya Meyerowitz
Associate Director Alumni Relations - CMS contact
Thomas Moran
Thomas Moran
Full Professor
Lea Stavoli
Lea Stavoli
Kitren VanStrander
Kitren VanStrander
Director, Outreach Education and Training
Megan Walbaum
Megan Walbaum
Academic Advisor
Donna Winter
Donna Winter
Program Coordinator

Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm


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31 Memorial Drive Rochester, NY 14623

Contact Info

Phone: 585.475.2234
Fax: 585.475.6292

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