What are the advantages of starting in the Exploratory Studies?

For exploring students at the beginning of their college careers, Exploratory Studies provides the best guidance and the broadest overview of the range of academic and career possibilities. From the moment Exploratory Studies students step onto our campus, we encourage them to proactively dig into their degree plans of study, interview and network with student and alumni resources, and actively research information portals. We are a great place to begin at Black Hills State. However, if you are very interested in a certain major, especially when it is part of a more selective school or college, we recommend that you apply to that school/college directly.  Then, if you find that the major is not the best fit for you, you can move into Exploratory Studies!

When do Exploratory Studies students officially move to a degree-granting school/college?

The maximum amount of time students can remain in Exploratory Studies is two semesters or 30 credit hours.

Will all of my credit hours count if I start at BHSU as an Exploratory Studies student?

It depends.  Each Exploratory Studies student works with a Retention & Recruitment Specialist to determine the majors, career areas, and skills the student finds interesting. Using that information and other metrics, the RRS suggests general courses that will best fit general education requirement, the degree requirements, and the student's academic objectives and needs. Sometimes a student will have the opportunity to take degree-specific courses that may not count toward all of the student's degree interests. In that case, the RRS will inform him or her of the options and consequences (and connect him or her with resources, if necessary), but then allow the student to make the final choice.  All new students to Exploratory Studies (freshmen and transfer) are highly encouraged to take GS 100: Exploratory Studies, a great introductory course to all majors and services at BHSU.

Will beginning in Exploratory Studies delay my graduation date?

In general, it does not.  The date of graduation can depend on a lot of factors including how long it takes for the student to decide upon a major, if the student is pursuing internships, co-ops, or study abroad opportunities, and others.  Exploratory Studies Retention & Recruitment Specialists encourage students early and often to take proactive steps toward degree decision-making.

Where can I find BHSU degree plans of study?

It is the mark of a well-informed student to know what’s included in their degree plans of study before diving into the course work. Congratulations on your proactivity! A degree plan of study lists all of courses required to earn a degree in a given major. That information can be presented in a grid-style four-year format or as a listing of course numbers and titles organized by category - so watch for both types! The best one-stop-location for BHSU degree plans of study is the Academics page. This site allows you to browse BHSU majors & minors in an A-Z list.

Can I still receive assistance if I'm dissatisfied with a major I chose?

Yes.  If the student has credit hours remaining in Exploratory Studies, they can opt to change back to Exploratory Studies for further assistance.

Can transfer students be admitted to Exploratory Studies?

Yes, but within certain limits. Transfer students who would like to be admitted to Exploratory Studies must have completed no more than 30 credit hours at their previous college(s). If transfer students have earned more than 30 credit hours, they must transfer directly into a degree granting BHSU college or school. Once students are admitted to Exploratory Studies, they are limited to 30 credit hours (about 2 semesters). If you are interested in transferring to Exploratory Studies, please contact the Registrar’s Office to start the process.

Contact Info

Black Hills State University
1200 University St.
Spearfish, SD, USA 57799

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