My D.I.Y. Modular Degree

TL:DR | The start of sorts to the [Modegree] series, and the overall start of Polyinnovator itself. Follow along to learn more about the Modular Degree concept!

7 min read
My D.I.Y. Modular Degree
Hello I am Dustin, a future Innovation Polymath, or put it simply a PolyInnovator. This is the first in the "Modegree" series, and was created at the start of my journey in this new ecosystem of content. I made a sequel to it, and now as well making a 2021 update.

I started this “personal brand” as a means to spread my projects and knowledge out to the world. I have always had a knack for finding unique information or resources when researching various topics.

As of this point I compiled a list of courses, books, and knowledge base for what is called a “Modular Degree”. A curated education geared towards the individual doing it. I honestly can say that higher education is aiming towards a modular trajectory. The simple truth is that traditional education is not preparing individuals for the labor market the way they used to. Mainly because of how much our employment opportunities have changed with the rise of technology.

Why did I choose this path? Well for one the traditional environment for learning just wasn’t suitable for me personally. I do realize that many people greatly benefit from school. However for the career I ambitiously want to have it needs a particular polymathic approach.

The Goal

I will become “A Globally recognized Innovation Polymath, driven to innovate technology and ideology.”

I plan on doing this by pursuing my own education pathway, derived from that list of courses I mentioned earlier. At this point in time (Sept 2018) I have over 430 courses on that list. I currently working a Micro-Masters via MIT and #edX. #DEDP This is a micro-credential that can also be counted towards credit towards a master’s degree if I decide to down the road.

Overall my career can be described as a synergy of Global Sustainability Development, Innovation/Project Management, and Social Entrepreneurship.

I think that my path as an Autodidact, or self-learner, will lead me to this outcome. The scary thing is that I really have no doubt that this is the true road for me to take. It feels just so natural, and almost as if it is an extension of myself. I am learning a lot, really fast even, so I am taking precautions not to burnout. However it feels just so prudent to my overall life.

What is in the D.I.Y. Degree?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and for good reason. Only a handful of other people have done anything like it. With most MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) websites gearing towards educating more and more people. It has been going towards the idea of micro-credentials. Parts of a traditional degree, broken up into the key components.

Coursera has MasterTrack, Udacity has their NanoDegree, and edX in particular is interesting because they have really started the whole trend with their Micro-Masters. Even in the near future perhaps coming out with their patented “Micro-Bachelors”, which I see being a really unique dynamic towards getting your degree.

Personally I actually love all the websites, and their content.


I broke up my degree into Ten Semesters, with an eleventh on the side for the extra courses (Perhaps would turn them into a second degree haha)

Semester 1: Business

This as you would presume has a lot MBA courses, including Economics, Government (yes I know not always part of an MBA), marketing, and MUCH more.

I aimed for this to be an introductory stage, even though many of the courses are from graduate level sources. Basically something to get me going, and focus my goals towards.

Semester 2: Sustainability

This one actually grew since I made them all, as I’ve found more and more on the subject matter. This is great because I honestly feel that most education options out there lack a lot of information.

There is a lot on sustainable energy, some primer for smart cities, theory of city form, futurism, SDGs, and sustainable business practices.

Semester 3: Project Management

Plenty of PMI/PMP courses, but as well as Agile principles, scrum, Lean fundamentals, innovation, etc.

This is something I feel will help glue together many of my areas of interest.

Semester 4: Information Technology and Smart Cities

Before all of this I considered getting my bachelors at WGU, where many of their programs comes with a plethora of IT certifications. This is still an option, however I feel that it is more prudent to follow this path. As many of the topics I can learn there I can on my own. Then if I decide to I’d be more prepared anyways.

Various automation, blockchain, IoC/IoT, LEEDs, security fundamentals.

Semester 5: Global Business

Global poverty, business leadership and innovation, public speaking, analytics, as well as many others in related areas This particular semester has a higher amount of micro-credentials that others with over five Micro-Masters. I hope that it will possible to accomplish financially.

Semester 6: Quantum Physics and Philosophy

Oh man this semester is going to be fun, and I think truly clings to my personality the most ironically. Despite my inclination towards entrepreneurship. Learning everything from Tai Chi, strategic thinking, nutrition, to quantum mechanics and dark matter.

Bear in mind I’ve already spent the past five years pursuing self-development, and many of those subjects I’ve already personally studied out of interest.

Semester 7: Math & Marketing

I’m both looking forward to this semester and dreading it. From calculus to Babylonian mathematics. Even have some Solar Energy Engineering in there for good measure.

Semester 8: Programming

I probably will even expand upon this more as well because of the sheer number of websites and resources. Before I attempted to create this D.I.Y. Degree I pursued learning more about coding and programming.

I scoured the internet finding every site I could. I eventually found a list of sites I could use. Started taking some courses, but decided to go for this instead. As of now I plan on trying to take every one of those courses.

Even if they overlap I think it will be beneficial as I’ve attempted to learn it about three times in my life. All of which hardly ever stuck. This will probably be the longest semester because I will spend a lot of time troubleshooting and learning even more deeply.

Semester 9: Entrepreneurship

Honestly one of the more interesting ones, as the sheer amount of options is great nowadays. This excites me because there are a lot of specializations and various micro-credentials I am looking forward to completing.

Including a Masters certificate from HEC Paris on Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.

Semester 10: Design and MasterClasses

Lastly we have the more elusive courses that I consider important to the overall goal, but due to priority listing it came to the end.

Design such as UI/UX, innovation in creativity, and masterclasses in many areas by masters of their fields.

Note: Since the inception of this post, the semesters have been drastically cut down. I do endorse people going at any length they choose. If you want to do 10 like I originally did, then so be it. If you want something more tackle-able like the 5 I have now, then that is great too!

Interleaving and Spaced Repetition

One thing to note is that I took into account rote memorization, and the psychological interleaving method. Meaning there are a lot of overlap in many semesters.

Channeling that same thought process as you I actually created my own D.I.Y. Degree. I curated a list of over 400 courses (may need to trim the fat haha), which will lead me into a unique dream career. Of which is a synergy between three areas: Global Sustainability Development, Innovation/Project Management, and Social Entrepreneurship.

Each of these areas alone would in the past take three separate degrees, 2–4 years each. Now I can interleave them all, and learn not only more effectively, but also more accelerated.

On top of that by doing all of this I can create a history, which I could use with either CLEP tests or competency based schools to go for a degree.

I wanted to take everything in over a period of time so it would stick, however I also plan on going through this all pretty quickly as well. About a year and half I would say ideally.*nr0hs1FPNj8GbpJ6JxnqPg.png

This overall goal is not for the faint of heart, not to boast about myself, I honestly would rather find an easier path. However I really see this as the ultimate path for me to take in regards to my goals.

I also set it up to basically not fail.

Let me explain. I mentioned how I interleaved the content matter for many reasons. Partially because some certifications can lead me into jobs, others into degree pathways of traditional education if I need to, for example the micro-masters I am completing right now. It is the Data, Economics, and Development Policy by MIT, which can lead into a blended masters program. From what it says on the site as well it basically just takes into account your skill in the program, not any previous university. Meaning for someone like me who can handle the course material and knowledge, I can go into the masters degree without having a bachelors.

I’m not sure how long they intend on doing this, but I am dedicated to getting a shot.

That is not to say I will stop doing my D.I.Y. Degree either, I will either decrease the amount of study on that so I can focus on the schooling. Or put it aside for the 6 months or so it will take to complete at MIT.

Another factor I consider to be important to mention is that I am developing my personal brand based around this endeavor. I want to create content that can inspire others (such as this post today), give links to those who need it (maybe there’s a specific course you need for CLEP for example), and overall just start documenting my journey.

As Gary Vee says “Document, don’t create”, measure your life into brief snippets of content people can enjoy or benefit from. I plan on making a weekly vlog on my journey, which the third video will be posting in the next couple days.

Hopefully this all has gotten someone excited for their own path, and feel free to reach out to me anytime!


In addition to the 2021 update I will release soon (as of now Jan 2021), I had made an update last year as well that would be interesting for you to watch.

The same principles are there, but the amount of courses I kept around. As well as how I organized everything, the tools I use, and the plans for the future they all changed a bit!

Part two:

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