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Degree programs

Returning to college

Degrees for returning adults

Perhaps you attended college right out of high school and then "stopped out" to focus on work or family responsibilities. Maybe you've taken courses here and there over the years but have not been able to complete a bachelor's degree.

We know there are many pathways to higher education, and College of Integrative Sciences and Arts faculty have designed several majors that make an excellent, efficient choice for adults who want to go back to school and have some college credits they'd like to transfer in.

Of course any and all of the degrees that we offer are open to you, and a number of them can be completed online or at a distance from the Phoenix metro area. But the degrees outlined below are ones that students returning with some college credits find to be especially degree-completion-friendly.

General Studies

General Studies is flexible degree you'll gain expertise in more than one discipline, choosing course work from four of 18 clustered topics. (Available at ASU's Polytechnic and Downtown Phoenix campuses and through the ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City.) This major can also be completed as an accelerated bachelor's/master's 4+1 degree, combined with the Thunderbird Master of Global Management.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies allows you to integrate two concentration areas selected from more than 100 possibilities. (Available through ASU Online and at ASU's Polytechnic, Downtown Phoenix, and Tempe campuses.)

Organizational Leadership

Organizational Leadership develops your knowledge of leadership theory and practice and the skills to be a effective leader capable of promoting positive change in organizations. (Available at the Polytechnic campus, at the ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City, through ASU Online, and through the partnerships ASU@TheGilaValleyASU@YumaASU@Pinal.)

Contact a College of Integrative Sciences and Arts advisor to learn more about these or any other degrees.

Ready to apply? If you've attended ASU before, apply for readmissionIf you're brand new to ASU, apply for transfer admission.   


Entrepreneur finds new sense of possibility


John S. Martinson, co-founder of China Mist Iced Tea Company, considers himself a "poster child" for adults who might be thinking about going back to finish college.

In the 1970s, Martinson took courses at Syracuse University and ASU. But, unable to "find something to unleash my creative instincts," he said, he turned to entrepreneurship, and in 1982, after two failed business attempts, he founded Scottsdale-based China Mist Iced Tea Company with friend Dan Schweiker.

Within a year they knew their niche — bringing gourmet-quality, fresh-brewed iced tea to the mainstream foodservice market — was a solid one. Soon they achieved a succession of industry firsts. In 1993, they became the first company to market fresh-brewed iced herbal teas to restaurants. In 1998, they were the first to market fresh-brewed green iced teas to foodservice. In 2003, they were the first iced tea company to market USDA Organic and Fair Trade® iced teas to hotels and restaurants.

When the higher priced Fair Trade and Organic-certified products were met with resistance in the industry, Martinson says he "reached the inescapable conclusion that our Fair Trade Organic iced tea venture was to become a niche product in a niche market. To make it successful, I would need to go back to school."

He found the major in general studies to be a perfect fit for degree completion. Not only was he able to use a number of his previous courses toward the degree, but he found the flexibility to pursue what would become his intellectual and life passion: sustainability.

"My first class in the program, the History and Philosophy of Sustainability, stimulated my interest in sustainability, and I was able to work the core sustainability courses into my general studies program."

He finished the bachelor's degree in December 2012, graduating summa cum laude (he'd entered the program with a cumulative GPA below 2.0). Martinson came back to ASU again two years later to complete the 13-month executive master of sustainability leadership in the School of Sustainability. He continues to enroll in ASU courses as a non-degree-seeking graduate student.

"In a sense," said Martinson, "I was reborn as a student later in life with a new outlook on what was possible." 

photo courtesy Suzanne Pickett Martinson