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SOIS Overview

The School of Individualized Study (SOIS) is about you.  Your ideas, your interests, your goals. Our degree is designed to help 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 SOIS, 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 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.

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Our Mission

The School of Individualized Study 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.” 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 student with a foundation in liberal arts and sciences;
  • The employer with employees who are educated in areas that are appropriate for contemporary occupations;
  • The opportunity of recognition of prior learning.

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 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. (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. 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 employers 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, CMS 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 advanced certificates. Additionally, CMS was meeting the needs of students at RIT Kosovo and RIT Dubai.

For a short time, 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.

In 2015, CMS was rebranded as the School of Individualized Study (SOIS).  The new name better reflects how we help students create customizable degree pathways, encourage independent study, and seek to award college credit for a student's experience.


Today the School of Individualized Study (SOIS) 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 SOIS’ 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. 

SOIS serves over 800 full-time equivalent domestic undergraduate and graduate students and provides academic programs to over 450 full-time equivalent students at RIT Kosovo. SOIS offers three undergraduate credentials in Applied Arts and Science; an MS degree in Professional Studies; and an advanced, professional certificate in Project Management. All credentials have a strong career focus and employ a multidisciplinary approach to learning. SOIS is the largest provider of on-line courses at RIT and its credentials can be obtained completely on-campus or on-line.

The School of Individualized Study 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 OSHA® Education Center.

During the 2015-16 academic year, 12 AAS degrees and 207 BS degrees were awarded to SOIS undergraduate students.  In addition, SOIS graduate students earned 13 advanced certificates and 28 MS degrees.  Many of these students started at RIT outside of SOIS, a clear indication of SOIS’s role in maximizing the retention and degree completion of the Institute’s students.


[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.


Hours of Operation

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


George Eastman Hall Suite 2210
31 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623

Contact Info

Phone: 585.475.2234
Fax: 585.475.6292

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