Individualized Studies Diploma

About the Department

  • Upgrade your work-related skills and knowledge to prepare for a new occupation.
  • Improve your communication and computer skills.
  • Develop job search strategies to market your academic or occupational skills.
  • Complete a degree or diploma by combining credits that you have earned previously, and receive credit for prior learning.

The Individualized Studies program is a flexible program where the student gets to design a set of classes that meets their specific needs. With the help on an advisor, students develop a course plan to upgrade work-related skills and knowledge, or to prepare for new occupations and/or transfer degree programs.

Program Information

Special Department Information:

In addition to the program requirements listed above, students must meet the following conditions in order to graduate:

1.   College Cumulative GPA Requirement: The cumulative grade point average (GPA) of credits attempted and completed at CLC must be at least 2.0
2.   Residency Requirement: students must complete one third (3) of their credits at Central Lakes College.

Program Course Requirements

Required Courses:
Choose one of the following:
CCST 1520  Career Planning  (2 cr)
CCST 1558  Introduction to E-Learning  (1 cr)
COMP 1101  Introduction to Computer Fundamentals  (3 cr)
Total – 1 to 3 credits

General Education:
Students must complete at least one class from Minnesota Transfer Curriculum Goal Area 1 – Communications.
Total – 3 to 4 credits

Students must work with an academic advisor to identify and complete 24-27 additional credits from technical or liberal arts disciplines.



sam_espanaSam Espana
Sam Espana has a wide range of work experience in the Information Technology (IT) industry. He’s held roles such as a systems analyst, systems/database administrator, programmer analyst, senior IT project manager, and Lean-Six Sigma Black Belt in Healthcare-IT (UnitedHealth Group, Regions Hospital). He’s taught computer courses as adjunct faculty at Dakota County Technical College since 1999. He also taught computer curriculum at Metropolitan State University and at Ridgewater College. He joined the team at CLC in 2015. Espana graduated from Winona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He earned a Master of Science in Software Engineering from the University of St. Thomas. Today, he’s working toward his doctorate degree in Information Security at Nova Southeastern University. His areas of interests include healthcare IT, cybersecurity, database management, networking, cloud computing, mobile application development and computer curriculum development. Outside of the classroom, Espana enjoys volunteering, outdoor activities and traveling. Office: 218-855-8291 Email Sam for more information

Mary DeVahl
Mary DeVahl is a familiar face to many at Central Lakes College. She began her career with the college in 1987 working as an advisor /advocate for single parents and non-traditional students. In 1995 she joined the CLC Counseling Department. Over the years she has helped thousands of CLC students identify, pursue and reach their academic and personal goals. During her years as a counselor she accumulated a wealth of experience working with students on personal issues, mental health and crisis counseling, career counseling and educational and transfer planning. In 2013 she began as a full-time instructor, teaching courses in Psychology, Career Exploration and College Success. Email Mary for more information

jeffJeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson studied English, history and education at St. John’s University, and his M.A. in English is from St. Cloud State University. He has been teaching English in central Minnesota for nearly 30 years. At CLC, Jeff teaches courses in composition and literature, works as a College in the Schools Collaborator, and also works for the MnSCU Center for College Readiness. Jeff directs Verse Like Water—the visiting poet program of Central Lakes College, which is funded by grants from Five Wings Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Charles Simic, Billy Collins, and Robert Hass are among recent poets hosted. Jeff is passionate about the teaching life, and he is also happy when he is in his rural peat bog with his wife and teenage sons. Email Jeff for more information

Kari Frisch
Kari Frisch is a full-time online Speech Communication instructor. When she was hired in 2001 she quickly became one of the first instructors to teach online at the campus. She has been highly involved in online development ever since. She developed a peer-review process, ran the school’s Center for Teaching & Learning, currently chairs the Online Instruction & Technology Committee, chairs the CLC Quality Matters Planning & Process Task Force, and is certified as a national QM reviewer. Kari also travels around the U.S a few times each year to give presentations on eLearning. She’s also done some webinars on online retention. For the last 4 years she has served on the Steering Committee for Desire2Learn’s International Fusion Conference. In 2009 she was awarded the Minnesota State Colleges and University Outstanding Educator Award. Email Kari for more information

Employment Statistics

For more information regarding employment statistics, career salary information and estimated job growth, follow the resource links below:

Gainful Employment – Individualized Studies Diploma

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