What Are the Top Interdisciplinary Studies Programs?

Learn how degree programs in interdisciplinary studies work. Find rankings and program offerings for the top three U.S. schools for developing an interdisciplinary program. Schools offering Interdisciplinary Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top School Offering Interdisciplinary Studies Programs?

You may want to look for a school with a strong overall reputation and high rankings from a credible publication such as U.S. News & World Report. Since you'll be studying in more than one department, you might want to check course offerings in the departments that appeal to your areas of interest. Schools with dedicated departments of centers for interdisciplinary programs may be able to provide the best academic support. Additionally, schools with both undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary areas may give you broader options if you plan to continue your customized studies beyond the baccalaureate level.

What Are Three Schools with Top Interdisciplinary Studies Programs?

Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN

Purdue tied for 60th place among all national universities in 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report. It provides administrative support for 16 interdisciplinary College of Liberal Arts programs through its Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, and it also supports an Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs. For example, undergrads may study world civilization by blending courses in art history, literature, language and culture from across the university's catalog. Blended graduate programs are available in American studies, comparative literature and linguistics. The School of Engineering Education offers more than 20 interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary plans of study.

Students can enroll directly in interdisciplinary graduate degree programs. But other programs require admission to a specific department. Here are some other mixed focus degree program options in which students can plan their curriculum:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies
  • B.A. in Comparative Literature
  • Student-Developed Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies
  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • M.A. in Life Sciences
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Information Security
  • M.S. in Food Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Ecological Science and Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Philosophy and Literature
  • Dual-Title Ph.D. in Gerontology

University of California in Berkeley, CA

Berkeley was listed 20th among the U.S. News & World Report national universities in 2016. It offers multiple programs and centers supporting interdisciplinary research and scholarship. The Interdisciplinary Faculty Program supports cross-campus research involving at least two departments. The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program matches undergraduates with faculty researchers.

Undergraduates can propose a self-directed major in interdisciplinary studies field (ISF). ISF majors may apply up to three courses taken abroad to their degrees. ISF is one of 15 majors coordinated by a center for Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. For example, the Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences supports undergraduate and graduate training. The Center for Interdisciplinary Biological Inspiration for Education and Research (CiBER) supports undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral research. The Meakin Interdisciplinary Studies Center coordinates studies that combine engineering courses with those focusing on the humanities or biological, social or natural sciences. These are representative degree options:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • B.A. in American Studies
  • B.S. in Environmental Economics and Policy
  • B.A. in Legal Studies
  • B.A. in Media Studies
  • B.A. in Operations Research and Management Science
  • Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program

University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA

This school tied for 24th among national universities in 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report. The University of Virginia offers more than 25 interdisciplinary programs within the College of Arts and Sciences, including the Echols Scholars Program that provides opportunities for academically excellent students with intellectual leadership potential.

The School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) offers a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies for adults interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree part-time. This program requires a capstone research project. Individually designed programs are possible as well as concentrations in business and the liberal arts. Each of the following majors is interdisciplinary:

  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies - Liberal Arts
  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies - Business
  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies - Individualized

Schools with Interdisciplinary Studies Programs

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocation
Brown University4-year, PrivateProvidence, RI
University of Denver4-year, PrivateDenver, CO
Valparaiso University4-year, PrivateValparaiso, IN
Creighton University4-year, PrivateOmaha, NE
Lipscomb University4-year, PrivateNashville, TN
Bowling Green State University4-year, PublicBowling Green, OH
SUNY at Fredonia4-year, PublicFredonia, NY
Portland State University4-year, PublicPortland, OR
Stephen F Austin State University4-year, PublicNacogdoches, TX
Boise State University4-year, PublicBoise, ID

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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