What Is an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree?
An interdisciplinary studies program integrates multiple academic disciplines into one curriculum. Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field, and establish professional careers in humanities, social services, and natural sciences.
What Is Interdisciplinary Studies?
A simple definition of interdisciplinary studies as a degree program is that it covers a wide range of subjects from different academic fields including social sciences, arts and literature, business, and natural sciences. Students can choose their own concentration areas and design a program of study that suits their interests and career goals. Some schools offer interdisciplinary studies as an accredited online program or a hybrid format that allows students to complete the coursework online and on-campus on their own schedule. Interdisciplinary studies is also suitable for students from community colleges who want to earn a four-year degree.
What Is an Interdisciplinary Major?
A lot of interdisciplinary studies programs offer specialization areas from which students can select one or more majors. These concentrations can include communication arts, education, legal studies, philosophy, public administration, political science, sociology, health sciences, and languages. Students must complete a minimum number of courses in their chosen fields of study in addition to the core curriculum courses to earn their degree.
Interdisciplinary Studies Degrees
Baccalaureate and graduate programs in interdisciplinary studies offer academic training in a variety of fields, allowing students to pursue multiple interests in one integrated curriculum. These programs also provide considerable latitude for students to customize their coursework and research projects based on their specializations and skillsets.
An undergraduate program in interdisciplinary studies provides a broad overview of various academic disciplines, with courses that include literature, history, art, psychology, mathematics, and natural sciences. In some programs, students can choose between a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree. There aren't drastic differences between the two, but in a very broad sense, the former offers a liberal arts-oriented curriculum while the latter features a more science-based coursework.
A master's degree program in interdisciplinary studies offers more comprehensive training in integrating complementary academic disciplines and methodologies. Aside from fulfilling the required credits in their chosen concentrations, students are expected to complete a thesis or capstone project that utilizes an interdisciplinary approach in tackling a specific topic or problem. A master's project can be a scholarly paper or it can also take on a more creative and innovative form such as a film, novel or collection of short stories, photography portfolio, art exhibit, website, or community-based action plan.
A doctoral program in interdisciplinary studies involves the integration of coursework and research of two or more disciplines that are not covered by existing graduate programs. Students have the flexibility to design their own curriculum and assessment plan based on their chosen concentration areas. To qualify for a doctoral degree, students usually need to pass comprehensive and final examinations as well as complete and defend a dissertation.
Careers in Interdisciplinary Studies
Because these programs are so wide-ranging, graduates of interdisciplinary studies programs can find career opportunities in various industries including social services, business, government, media, healthcare, nonprofit, and technology. Students on the humanities track can work as teachers, writers, corporate managers, sociologists, researchers, and nonprofit specialists among many others. Meanwhile, those who selected a science-based program can pursue careers in fields like engineering, biology, clinical research, and chemistry. An interdisciplinary studies degree also prepares students for graduate programs in business administration, law, medicine, environmental studies, management, arts and literature, social sciences, and other academic areas.