Areas of Study and Concentration Guidelines

The areas of study and concentration guidelines identify the knowledge expectations of academic and/or professional fields. Students use the guidelines to develop their degrees so that they include both expected knowledge and currency in their field. The guidelines are not names of specific courses; instead, they identify knowledge expectations that are included in multiple courses and in multiple ways.

A student’s degree represents a body of knowledge that has been acquired. The college has guidelines for 12 broad areas of study and, in many cases, for more specific concentrations within areas of study. If a student chooses to design a degree with a concentration, his or her mentor helps develop a concentration title that accurately represents a focus that fits within the particular area of study. Additionally, SUNY Empire State College offers structured degree programs in Accounting, Addiction Studies, Allied Health, Business Administration, Human Resource Management, Management, Nursing, Psychology, and Security Studies. The college does not offer undergraduate programs leading to professional licensure or certification.

In planning a degree, the student’s mentor helps interpret the guidelines. When the degree program is submitted for approval it goes through faculty and college-level review processes; the guidelines will be used as the basis for the review of the degree design and concentration. In the degree program rationale, the student explains how studies address the area of study and where necessary, concentration guidelines, as well as the college’s learning goals and degree requirements.

Area of Study and Concentration Guidelines can be found on the Area of Study web site. Select an area of study and click on Detailed Guidelines. For more information about Areas of Study please see Area of Study Guidelines: An Introduction to the Area of Study Guidelines Policy.

The Area of Study Guidelines Frameworks

Each area of study guideline is written broadly to represent a body of knowledge expected within that field. The guidelines will help to structure the degree with the student’s goals in mind. Degrees fall into one of five general structures or frameworks:

  1. Disciplinary – a program of study guided by the existing framework of a discipline. Degrees designed around this framework are similar in design to programs of study at other colleges.
  2. Interdisciplinary – a program of study that simultaneously interrelates two or more disciplines. Degrees designed around this framework draw upon the methods and bodies of knowledge of multiple disciplines to think across boundaries.
  3. Problem Oriented – a program of study designed around a problem. Degrees designed around this framework examine a significant issue in depth from multiple perspectives.
  4. Professional/Vocational – a program of study that focuses on acquiring knowledge and skills needed for specific career performance and applications. Degrees designed around this framework explore the conceptual foundations of the profession, the role of the professional in that career, and the relations between the profession and society at large.
  5. Thematic – a program of study focusing on a particular theme or set of ideas. Degrees designed around this framework trace the development of a theme or idea, or explore various aspects of a theme to examine its cultural and intellectual influence.

Concentration Guidelines

In addition to the broader, general area of study guidelines, several areas of studies have developed concentration guidelines that have specific meaning in the academic and professional worlds. These concentration guidelines also identify knowledge expectations rather than specific courses. Students can address these expectations through multiple studies and in multiple ways.

Many degrees that are designed around a disciplinary or professional/vocational framework use established concentration titles. For example, in the Business, Management and Economics area of study guidelines, there are specific concentration titles for Economics, Finance, Marketing and more. In the Science, Mathematics and Technology area of study guidelines, there are specific concentration titles for Biology, Mathematics, Information Systems, Computer Science and others.

Students can self-design their own concentration title using a disciplinary or professional/vocational framework, as long as the title is clear about the learning represented in the degree. If the degree is designed around an interdisciplinary, problem oriented or thematic framework, the student will be designing his or her own concentration title. Many students decide to develop their own concentration titles, especially when they have significant advanced standing credits. This option provides flexibility in the degree program design. For example, if a student chooses to design a degree in business without including several of the topics listed in one of the concentration guidelines, he or she might select another framework and develop a title that better describes the degree program plan.

The following pages provide an overview of each area of study. In designing degree programs, students follow area of study guidelines, which can be found by going to Area of Study web page and selecting “detailed guidelines.”