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Individual Program of Study

Next Steps at Vanderbilt is committed to the integration of students with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of the university and the surrounding community. Students will self-direct the development of their Program of Study through initial and on-going Person-Centered Planning activities. The Program of Study is a unique and customized plan for achievement in academic areas, independent livings skills, career development, and university life. While Next Steps students work towards completing an individual Program of Study, they must also complete the program to earn a Career and Community Studies certificate upon completion. 


Each Program of Study includes up to two Vanderbilt University courses per semester as determined by students’ individualized needs. Individual Independent Learning Agreements are developed for each course that details the assignments, academic supports needed, and expectations based upon the varying academic skills of students. Learning goals will be based on key concepts that are critical to each respective class as noted in the course syllabus and on goals identified for each student in the Next Steps program.

List of past VU courses taken by Next Steps students

Each semester Next Steps students enroll in up to three Next Steps’ Career and Community Studies (CCS) courses focusing on life skills that are essential for independent living. The participation in these individualized courses are determined by the student, staff, and those pertinent to the decision through various person-centered planning approaches.

See more about our CCS courses here.

 o The first year of the program is designed to provide a foundation to college life by offering courses that address living on your own, the fundamentals of career awareness, discovery, and exploration through job shadowing, and topics on personal responsibility and self-motivation when navigating the first year of college.

o The second year of the program is designed to extend students’ skills and knowledge around independent living, including knowledge on students’ rights and responsibilities. Individualized on-campus internships will also be offered.

 o The last two years heavily focus on career development and field specialization, including opportunities for off-campus paid internships in a student’s field of interest. Courses also cover the adoption of self-advocacy and leadership skills.

 Note: As a TPSID expansion grant, this information is under revision.


Other helpful links

Program Requirements Chart

Sample Student Schedule

Faculty Guide