Program Spotlight: Individualized Studies

Customize your A.S. degree to achieve your academic and career goals

The Individualized Studies program at Dakota County Technical College allows you to custom-design an associate degree that meets educational and career goals you could not otherwise accomplish through existing college programs. The 60-credit Associate of Science (A.S.) degree is a great fit if you plan on transferring to a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor’s or more advanced degree.

The program is also an ideal option if you are:
  • Looking to delve into occupational and/or technical courses in one or more areas of study
  • Working and ready to advance your career
  • Undecided about your future
  • Enrolled in a technical program, but wish to change direction

Martin Springborg

Martin Springborg, DCTC dean of liberal arts and STEM, reports that the flexibility of the program represents a boon for students who need a range of options in their degree planning.

“The Individualized Studies program presents a unique opportunity for students who wish to complete their Minnesota Transfer Curriculum credits or ‘generals’ to transfer to a university or other institution,” Dean Springborg said. “The program also allows students to learn new skills in technical fields that can immediately be applied to their job or career post-graduation. The first course in the program, INDS 1002: Career and Education Exploration, is taught by a vibrant group of faculty representing a broad cross section of DCTC programs.”

More about Individualized Studies

Because this A.S. degree will be custom designed to meet your educational and career goals, you won’t find a sample course sequence. Please contact a DCTC academic advisor to discuss your future plans and get help determining which courses you should take and when you should take them.

To earn your A.S. degree in this program, you need to complete three required courses (see below), 18 credits of technical electives, and the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. Technical electives are occupational and/or technical courses in areas of study that align with your goals. The Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) is the format in which general education is defined and accomplished within public two- and four-year colleges and universities in Minnesota.

Required courses

INDS 1002: Career and Education Exploration : 2 credits
(Must be taken your first semester.)

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None

In this course, you will consider your values, interests, goals, and skills as those attributes relate to your program and career pathways planning. You will plan your Individualized Studies program pathway and learn to assemble a portfolio that will support your eventual job search. Job search skills and credit for prior learning opportunities will also be addressed.

Your coursework will cover:
  • Possible careers
  • Current job market
  • Liberal arts and sciences disciplines (and their roles in the MnTC)
  • Technical programs of study available at DCTC

COMS 1020: Interpersonal Communication: 3 credits

Meets MnTC Goal 1: Communications
Meets MnTC Goal 7: Human Diversity
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None

This course is intended to increase your awareness of the processes, models, and theories of interpersonal communication relative to relationships that impact people’s personal and professional lives. Through self-analysis and reflection, case studies, practical application, and critical thinking, you will examine the influence of communicative behaviors on themselves, their personal relationships, groups, and society.

Concepts you’ll investigate include:
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-fulfilling prophecies
  • Perception
  • Ethics
  • Emotion
  • Conflict
  • Cultural awareness
  • Language
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Social media
  • Listening

ENGL 1150: Composition I :: 3 credits

Meets MnTC Goal 1: Communications
Prerequisites: Visit student e-services
Corequisites: None

In this course, you will focus on composing expository and persuasive essays using effective writing skills in concert with a variety of research techniques. You’ll also work on enhancing your critical reading and logical reasoning skills.

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)

Turn your work and life experiences into college credits.

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is academic credit you can be awarded when you successfully demonstrate college or university-level learning achieved through informal or experiential learning outside the classroom.

You could have your learning evaluated for academic credit, saving you time and money toward earning your degree, diploma, or certificate.


INDS 1002: Career and Education Exploration: Faculty perspectives

Kathleen Paukert

I am loving teaching this new course. The diversity in the room and the different perspectives are awesome. The students in my group aren’t sure of what program they want to pursue.

Helping them explore the options not only at DCTC, but at other colleges. Seeing them decide on their path is going to be very rewarding.  This is a much-needed course—and the benefit for students is immeasurable.

Kathleen Paukert, CMA (AAMA) BAS
Medical Assistant Program Director
Dakota County Technical College

Wes Jorde

The DCTC Individualized Studies program is important because it gives students opportunities to engage in both general and technical learning, putting the coursework of each together for a complete college degree.

The centerpiece of the program is the Career and Education Exploration course, which guides students to imagine what may be possible in their future.

The course is beneficial because students learn about DCTC program areas and about how to explore career options. What I enjoy about teaching the course is listening to students use knowledge of their interests and values in planning their path and seeing them develop confidence in their job search skills.

Wes Jorde
Philosophy Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Learn more about the Individualized Studies program at DCTC by contacting:

Room 2-110