View Text Only Version

Professional Studies


Contact Professional Studies  

Professional Studies


Lawrence Center Rm. 222
West Chester, PA 19383
Fax: 610-436-2600


Professor Bruce Norris

*To set up an appointment for in-person program information,
change of major or your semester appointment, contact Professor Norris'
administrative support at 610-436-3548,



Program Overview

What is the degree called?
The Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies: Professional Studies

When was the Professional Studies Program established?
The Professional Studies major was created and approved during the 2001-2002 academic year. The first students were formally admitted during the summer of 2002.

How many students are presently enrolled in the program?
As of February 2018 there are over 380 students pursuing the Professional Studies degree.

How many students have graduated with the Professional Studies degree?
As of February 2018 in approximately 3,200 students have earned the Professional Studies degree.

How would you briefly describe the Professional Studies degree?
The Professional Studies degree is an interdisciplinary degree program that allows students to create an individualized program of study tailored to the unique interests and needs of the student. 

What can a student do after earning the Professional Studies degree?
Students who earn the professional studies degree have a surprising number of options available after graduation.  Many go to graduate school or to post-baccalaureate certificate programs in a field of their choice.  Others go on to entry level positions in business and industry, often in an area associated with one of their academic minors.  Many discover that their skills, knowledge and experiences open doors in occupations they never considered.  An increasing number of employers are less concerned about the title of a degree, and more concerned about the qualities a prospective employee brings in and the value that prospective employee can add to their company.

Searching for the right vocation of the “perfect job” can be challenging.  The University Counseling Center provides vocational testing, at no charge to the student.  A trained professional will review the results of the testing with the student.  The staff of the Twardowski Career Development Center provides a variety of services for students engaged in the search for a career path.  Both offices are located on the second floor of the Lawrence Center.  Or you may access their websites as follows:

The University Counseling Center
Twardowski Career Development Center

Who is the director of the program?
Professor Bruce Norris currently serves as the Director of the Liberal Studies: Professional Studies degree program. He has been the director of the program since it began accepting students in the summer of 2002.

Where is the program office located?

The Professional Studies program office is located in Room 222 in the Lawrence Center.   We share space with the Exploratory Studies Center.  Students need to schedule appointments to meet with the Director.  Appointments may be scheduled by calling 610-436-3548 or through emailing the office manager at 

Cindy Pistritto


What is the website address for the Professional Studies Program?


Who should consider entering the Professional Studies Major?
Professional Studies is a potentially good fit for the following types of students:

  • Students who think "outside the box".
  • Students who are interested in what is IN the major, not what it is called
  • Students who are looking for a major, but cannot find a “good match”  with existing campus programs
  • Students with high credits earned who are not enrolled in a major.
  • Students who are enrolled in a major but will not be able to complete the requirements for that major for various reasons.

What are the qualifications for entry into the Professional Studies Program?

  • Current WCU Students:  Students must be actively enrolled as an undergraduate at WCU, and have earned a minimum of 30 credits at the time of application.  Students must have a WCU cumulative GPA of 2.00 or better.  Prospective students must have an intake interview with the Program Director to assess their qualifications.  Students will be expected to articulate the reason they feel Professional Studies is the best choice of major and how it will help them meet their educational and post-graduation goals.  Once the intake interview is completed, students wishing to be admitted to the Professional Studies program must submit an application to change their major through the myWCU portal.

  • Transfer Students: Students applying to WCU as a transfer student from another accredited college or university may choose to apply for direct admission to the Professional Studies Program on the online application.  The Office of Undergraduate Admissions will notify the program of the application.  A representative of the program will contact the student to arrange an intake interview.  During the interview, the student will provide a rationale why they have chosen the Professional Studies major, what their ultimate post-graduation goals are and how the major will help them accomplish those goals.  A review of their academic record will take place and a discussion of the direction the student wishes to go will serve as a framework for identifying areas of study and potential minor options.  The program director will then make a recommendation on their admission to the Office of Undergraduate Admission, who make the final determination on acceptance.  Offers of acceptance to WCU will come from Undergraduate Admissions only.  Professional Studies may only make recommendations which are not binding on Admissions.  Transfer applicants who do not take part in the intake interview process will not be admitted to the program.


The Program of Study

What are the program requirements?
Students in the Professional Studies Program must complete a variety of credit/course requirements under the following categories:

  • General Education - 48 credits
  • Major Breadth (Distributive) Courses - 15 credits
  • Major Electives:
    • Upper Level Electives - 30 credits
    • Electives at any level - 27 credits
  • Two Academic Minors (Credits included among Major Electives listed above)

Where can I find information about the General Education Requirement?

Students should consult the Undergraduate catalog for the year they first enrolled at WCU to determine their general education requirement.  Students should refer to their Degree Progress Report on the myWCU portal and consult their academic advisor for specific information about the general education requirement.  The Program Director serves as the academic advisor for Professional Studies students.

What is the "Major Breadth" (Distributive) Requirement?

The Major Breadth (Distributive) Requirement consists of 15 credits of coursework in areas across the university curriculum.  The requirement has its origin in the Liberal Arts/Liberal Studies tradition, where students pursue a curriculum that spans a variety of academic disciplines.  These course categories mirror, to a great degree, the categories in the general education requirement.  Courses taken to fulfill the general education requirement cannot also be used to meet the major breadth requirement.  To complete this requirement, students must take courses in the following areas:

  • Science (3 credits), from the following prefixes: BIO, CHE, CSC, CST, CSW, ESS, ENV, IND, MAT, PHY, SCB, SCE, SCI.
  • Behavioral and Social Science (3 credits), from the following prefixes: ANT, ECO, EDP, GEO, PAX, PSC, PSY, SOC, WOS
  • Humanities (3 credits) from the following prefixes: AMS, CLS, COM, CRW, ENG, HIS, JRN, LIT, PHI, WRH, or any prefix from a foreign language or foreign culture cluster.
  • Additional Distributive courses (6 credits) from any of the prefixes listed above in science and math, behavioral and social science, humanities, or the following Arts prefixes: ARH, ART, DAN, FLM, MUE, MHL, MTC, THA, or music organizations.

What are the major electives?
Students in the Professional Studies program must complete a total of 57 credits of major electives.  At least 30 credits of these electives must be taken at the upper level (300/400 level).  The remaining 27 credits may be taken at any level 100 or above.  Courses that students are using to earn one of the required academic minors are to be included among these elective credits.  The credits may be taken from any academic department on campus.

What is the Academic Minor Requirement for Professional Studies?

Students pursuing the Professional Studies degree must earn two academic minors.  One of those minors must be selected from a list of “Professional” minors.  The second minor may be from any academic program on campus.

Students will need to apply for each of the minors they wish to pursue, using the process available on the myWCU portal, similar to applying for the change of major.  Each minor may have their own admission or selection criteria.  It is the student’s responsibility to consult with a representative of the minor department to determine these standards, as well as the specific requirements for the minor. The Professional Studies office maintains a current list of the minors, their advisors and contact information 

Verification that a student has earned the minor will be done at the time of final graduation clearance by the appropriate minor department representative.  Failure to earn two minors, as stipulated above, will prevent a Professional Studies student from graduating.

It is important to note that, for most minors, students must have a minimum cumulative grade point (CGPA) of average of 2.00.  Many minors have requirements that exceed that 2.00 minimum CGPA and may also have other prerequisite course requirements.  Some minors have pre-admission requirements that must be met before gaining admission to the minor.  This reinforces the need to students to adequately research the minors they are considering and meet with the appropriate faculty member in the minor before choosing that minor.  Students should understand the precise entry and graduation requirements for any minor chosen.

What is a "Professional Minor"?

At the time the Professional Studies Program was approved, professional minors came from what was then considered to be the professional colleges.  The Academic Departments of the university were organized into the College of Arts and Sciences and four Professional Schools (Business and Public Affairs, Education, Health Sciences and Music).  In the Fall of 2116, the academic units were reorganized to more accurately reflect the institution’s mission, philosophy and strategic plan.  All departments are part of one of five Colleges (Arts and Humanities, Business and Public Management, Education and Social Work, Health Sciences, and the Sciences and Mathematics.), and some departments were moved into a new college.  In addition, there is the School of Music (part of the College of Arts and Humanities), which houses the various music minors.  Some interdisciplinary minors are also located in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, a free standing academic unit which is also the current academic home of the Professional Studies program.  For the pourposes of the Professiuonal Studies major, the Professional minors are aligned with the previous listing along with recent additions.  A comprehensive, current list of all minors, listed by college and department, is found elsewhere in this handbook, and may also be accessed through the current online version of the undergraduate catalogue. VIew the current list of professional area minors.

How do I find out what the requirements are for an academic minor?

Students should consult the chair of the academic department that owns the minor to determine the current specific requirements, and options if any, for their minor.  Many departments will assign a minor advisor to assist the student as they work to fulfill all minor requirements.  If a minor advisor is not assigned, students should work with the department chair for that minor.

Departments may provide general information about their minors in the Undergraduate catalog, as well as on their departmental web page.  However, students should check with their assigned minor advisor to be certain of the specific requirements that must be met.  Failure to meet with your minor advisor could lead to misunderstandings about the minor requirements and could ultimately delay graduation.

The Professional Studies office maintains a current list of the minors, their advisors and contact information.

How does a student find out who is appointed to be their minor advisor?
The student may check with the minor department office. The minor advisor may also be identified on the myWCU portal, on the student’s home page.

What can a student do if they are having trouble selecting an academic minor?

The first step should be arranging a meeting with the Program Director to discuss this issue.  Other steps will likely be identified during that meeting.  Often, it is best to work from the perspective of identifying the minors that are of no interest, or for which the student is not eligible due to entry criteria.  Caution should be employed with this method, as viable minors could be excluded prematurely.  Students should research the minors available and of interest, using the Undergraduate catalog, the prospective minor department office, and that department’s web page.

May I use two academic minors from the College of Arts and Humanities to meet the degree requirement for Professional Studies?

No, only approved minor programs may be used to fulfill the minor requirement.

Academic Advising

Why should I meet with my academic advisor?

While the flexibility and individualized nature of the Professional Studies Program is appealing, it also creates the potential for misunderstanding and mistakes in planning and executing the student’s academic plan.  By meeting on a regular basis with your academic advisor, you reduce the likelihood that these mistakes will occur.

Students are responsible for developing an academic plan to complete all of the requirements for your program of study.  The academic advisor is a good sounding board for your plan.  In addition, students must meet with their academic advisor in order to have their advising hold lifted.  That enables the student to enroll in courses at the appointed time.

Academic advisors are also interested in helping the student clarify their short-term and long-term goals.  The selection of minors and of elective courses may depend to some degree on those goals.

Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to know what the requirements are for earning their degree, and to then complete them.  The academic advisor is an excellent resource to use to ensure that the student is on the correct path.

When should I meet with my academic advisor?

Students are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor whenever they feel a need to do so.

Students are expected to meet with their academic advisor at least once each semester to review their progress toward degree completion, discuss course selection for upcoming semesters, and address other important issues.

It is very important for students to meet with their academic advisor(s) before it is time to schedule for the next semester.  After this meeting your advising hold is removed so you can schedule.

How should students prepare for an academic advising session?

Prior to the appointment, students should review the materials they received in previous sessions.  They should be aware of outstanding requirements and, if possible, identify possible course selection options for the upcoming semester.  Consultations with minor advisors prior to meeting with your major advisor is also wise.  In addition, they should prepare a list of questions to be discussed at the session.  Students should bring their Professional Studies folder with them to each advising meeting. That folder is issued to the student at the first meeting following submission of the formal change of major request online.

What is the Degree Progress report and how does it impact me as a Professional Studies major?

The Degree Progress Report (DPR) is generated by the Registrar’s Office and is accessed through the myWCU portal.  It is designed to provide students with a snapshot of where they are in terms of completing degree requirements.  The DPR includes the general education requirement, major requirements, total adjusted credit count and cumulative grade point average.  The DPR will be reviewed with advisees at least once a semester during their academic advising sessions, usually prior to course enrollment for upcoming semesters and terms.

In a more traditional major, where most degree requirements are clearly identified and are taken by all students in the major, the DPR is an excellent tool for students and advisors.  For most Professional Studies majors, it effectively and accurately reflects progress to degree completion.

Unfortunately, despite a laudable effort on the part of the programmers, it does not work quite so well in capturing the unique degree requirements for some Professional Studies major students.  The DPR is useful and effective in the information it provides for the general education requirement, total adjusted credits, and cumulative grade point average for our major students.  However, it is strongly recommended that students follow the program advising sheet when working with their major requirements. 

When it comes time for graduation, it is the program director, the minor advisors and the Registrar’s office working in a coordinated fashion, that will review your record and render a decision on program completion and, ultimately, if you will graduate.  For Professional Studies clearance, the Program Director will refer to the advising sheet and file notes to make the clearance determination.

The best tool for monitoring your academic progress is regular consultation with your academic advisor and developing a clear understanding of your program (major and minor program) requirements.  So, when in doubt, see your academic advisor 




How may a student schedule an appointment with the program director?

Students may schedule an appointment by calling the program office at 610-436-3548.  If your call is put into voicemail, please leave your name and return number, and a contact will be made.  Appointment requests may also be sent via email to 

Cindy Pistritto


May I communicate with the program director through email?
Yes, students are encouraged to submit basic and simple questions (those requiring short answers) via email. Please submit these questions to

Bruce Norris

. Questions requiring longer, in-depth answers should be saved for face-to face meetings or phone calls. Students should refrain from using email to schedule advising appointments. A phone call during normal university business hours is preferred.

Are there certain issues that cannot be addressed through email?

Yes, student grades, GPA, identifying information (such as WCU ID numbers and social security numbers) and personal information should not be included in any email communications, as privacy of emails cannot be assured.  The rule of thumb is: if you would not discuss something in a loud voice in a crowded elevator, you should not cover it in an email.

Other Issues

May students participate in intership experiences and have them used as partial fulfillment of major requirements:

Yes, Professional Studies students may (and are encouraged to) participate in internship experiences.  Yes, credits earned through internship experiences may be applied to major electives.  HOWEVER, there are presently no credits given directly through the Professional Studies program for internships.  Students who want to earn credits for internships should check with their minor departments to see if it is possible to earn credits through that department.  Professional Studies students interested in internships should consult the Program Director.

Back to top of page.