Step 5: Understand the Big Picture at Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University is a big and complicated place. Understanding the kind of school IUB is, and how it is organized, will help you see how you fit in as you take your first steps here.
The information on this page provides a good head start in making sense of how things work at IUB. There is a lot to learn, but you don’t have to know it all in order to start your coursework and have a successful first semester.
If you spend time getting the big picture before you start classes at IUB, then your interactions with all the people who are here to help you succeed—your advisor, residence hall staff, and instructors—will be clearer from the start. You’ll be able to plan and take the next steps, into your second semester and beyond, more confidently and successfully. And you’ll see more clearly what it means to begin your college work in University Division and enter a program where you will complete your degree requirements and graduate.
What kind of school is IUB? How is the University organized?
Indiana University is a research school, where the faculty conducts research and teaches. At a research school, members of the faculty are all highly accomplished in their respective fields. They are world-class experts on the subjects they instruct.
Indiana University also provides a liberal education. You will do more than study technical skills necessary to be trained for a specific job. Through exposure to many different kinds of subject matter, you will develop skills that are adaptable to a wide range of professions. The General Education requirements at IUB and their place in the degree requirements discussed below reflect the central importance of liberal education at IUB.
Indiana University has eight different campuses. That's why we refer to the Bloomington campus as Indiana University Bloomington, or IUB.
IUB is composed of eleven different schools. It can be helpful to think of IUB as an umbrella, and under the umbrella are eleven different organizations, as well as many centers and offices. Each school is comprised of different divisions and majors, and each of these has its own policies and rules for admissions, grades, degree requirements and graduation.
The list below shows how the University is organized:
The schools at Indiana University Bloomington
- College of Arts and Sciences (COLL)
- School of Education (EDUC)
- School of Public Health (SPH)
- School of Informatics and Computing (INFO)
- Jacobs School of Music (MUS)
- School of Journalism (JOUR)
- Kelley School of Business (BUS)
- School of Nursing (NURS)
- School of Optometry (OPT)
- School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA)
- School of Social Work (SWK)
In particular, note that there is a difference between the College and the University: people often use these terms interchangeably when in fact they refer to two different, though related, entities.
To earn your degree from IUB, you must first choose an academic direction, earn admission into a school and leave University Division.
What is University Division? Why do I start here?
When you are admitted to IUB through University Division (UD), you are assigned to a professional academic advisor with a comprehensive knowledge of essential major and degree requirements for all of the schools at IUB. Your advisor is uniquely qualified to help you make the transition to college life and work, and can connect you to the many services here at IUB that support your success.
Beginning with your orientation advising appointment, throughout your first year, UD advisors will work closely with you, getting to know you, answering your questions, and helping you find the path toward a major and a degree from one of the schools listed above. If you live in campus housing, your advisor will have an office in your residence hall.
Please read about Our Mission if you wish to know more about University Division advisors’ commitment to working in partnership with students to help them develop their academic plans.
How do I gain admission to the school at IUB that offers the major that is best for me?
Admission to some schools or programs is competitive or selective, while others do not require a formal application; you automatically certify into those units after you declare your intention to major in one of these schools and successfully complete the prerequisites.
If you are applying to a competitive program, it is very smart to plan more than one possible academic direction. Your University Division advisor will help you understand your options and develop alternate academic plans as needed.
What are the degree requirements that I must meet to graduate?
Figuring out the relationship between IUB and its schools can be confusing at first, especially the degree requirements. To earn a bachelor’s degree from any of the schools at IUB, you will need to complete the following basic components of that degree:
- Coursework that satisfies major, general education, and elective requirements
- a minimum number of credit hours
- a minimum grade point average (GPA)
Each school at IUB defines its own unique degree requirements. The course, GPA and credit hour requirements will differ, depending on the school, degree, and major you choose. However, all degree programs require three basic kinds of coursework:
Major Concentration: Courses that help you explore, in depth, the subject that you decide is the best one for you to focus on throughout your time at IUB.
General Education: Courses that provide the breadth and diversity of subject matter that are central to a liberal arts education.
In Step 3, we discussed campus-wide Gen Ed requirements that are the same for any major and degree. It’s also important to know that the particular major you choose may have additional general education requirements defined by that school. Often these requirements follow College of Arts and Sciences Education (CASE) course lists, which may also help you make degree progress in your first year.
Electives: Additional courses of interest that you select to meet your educational goals and to earn the remaining credit hours needed to fulfill degree requirements. (Some majors may need few, or no, electives.) The Additional Course Options discussed in Step #3 offer lists of courses likely to count for elective credit.
A well-balanced semester will typically have courses from all three areas.
Credit hours help you to estimate how much work a class will require so that you can manage your time more effectively. While IUB courses can vary from one to five credit hours, most typically carry three credit hours.
Keeping track of your Cumulative GPA after your first semester will help you to understand the progress you are making toward your degree.
Your University Division advisor will help you understand these and other important features of the academic landscape at IUB; don’t hesitate to ask questions as they come up!
What offices at IUB are most important for me to get to know?
In addition to the schools of IUB, there are a variety of offices on IUB’s campus, some of which you will have direct contact with. It helps to understand the roles the different offices play.
The Office of the Bursar sends out bills for tuition, housing, and fees, and it is where you pay those bills. It does not handle financial aid or scholarships. If you owe a library bill or a housing fee, for example, you will be interacting with the Bursar’s office.
The Office of the Registrar handles all class scheduling and registration. It is where you can find course lists, schedules and calendars. If you want to register for summer classes, for example, you will be exploring the Registrar’s homepage.
The Office of Student Financial Assistance deals with traditional forms of state aid, such as grants, and loans. If you are the recipient of a scholarship, you must be in touch with the sponsors of the scholarship: the Office of Financial Aid does not handle that kind of assistance. For example, if you are receiving a Pell grant or have taken out a loan from a bank, you will be working with Financial Aid.
We hope this overview has helped you to understand important components of IUB and how these relate to you as a new student. For further questions regarding classes, requirements, majors, or general help navigating the IUB systems, please do not hesitate to contact a University Division advisor. You may use your IU email account to contact us at email@example.com
We are here to help answer all questions and to assist you in your entry into college life as an Indiana University student.