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Interdisciplinary Studies Degrees

The complete guide on what you’ll learn, job prospects, university programs, and saving time and money.
on June 30, 2020

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Accounting majors want to be accountants, engineering majors want to be engineers, and computer programming majors want to become programmers. But what do you do if the career you’re interested in doesn’t have a designated major to go along with it, and none of the available majors provide the coursework needed to prepare you for that career? You earn a bachelor of interdisciplinary studies.

What is a Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies?

A bachelor of interdisciplinary studies is a degree program that’s catered to each student’s unique interests and career goals. Many careers don’t have a direct educational path, but you want your education to prepare you as much as possible for your chosen career. An interdisciplinary studies degree program allows you to craft your own curriculum, taking courses in a variety of schools and subjects to create a career-oriented degree that enables you to reach your educational and career goals.

Working with a faculty advisor, students select courses from any discipline—life sciences, social sciences, liberal arts, or humanities. The faculty advisor counsels the student on his/her choices, ensuring that all degree requirements are met and that the class selections make sense for the students chosen career. General education requirements must still be met—students will take introductory math, writing, and science courses—but outside of that a degree in interdisciplinary studies is what you make it.

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What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Interdisciplinary Studies?

  • Commercial Law
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Computer Programming
  • Managerial Finance
  • Industrial Psychology
  • Public Speaking
  • International Business

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies?

A bachelor of interdisciplinary studies allows you to design your own degree program, so it doesn’t lead to any specific career. However, the skills gained in any general college educational program provide students with the communication and reasoning skills needed to succeed in a variety of roles within the field of business. Graduates who are unable to find work in the career of their first choice may be able to become effective marketers, office managers, editors, public relations professionals, or journalists.

How Long does it take?

A bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at that could transfer to universities in the US.

Online Interdisciplinary Studies Degree

Online interdisciplinary studies programs are not very common but they are recently becoming more popular. Students are usually required to complete 30 credit hours of military service, college studies or professional experience for admission into the program. The program requires completing around 120 credit hours including 40 credit hours of general education classes. There are also some accelerated online programs that can be completed within 18 months of study. Students are normally required to deliver a capstone project for graduation.

What Can You Do With an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree?

Interdisciplinary studies are special study programs offered by some universities. Students are allowed to plan their own study program by choosing courses from different topics. This mode of study can be the perfect choice if you are not satisfied by any of the available programs and you do not have specific interests. Some students will join this type of academic programs to enjoy expanding their knowledge in various fields regardless of the career options available after completing the degree. However, students usually have to choose a primary field of study or up to three majors.

What does interdisciplinary studies student learn?

Interdisciplinary studies are unique in their nature compared to other more structured programs. However, there are general requirements to complete a degree in interdisciplinary studies:

  1. General education courses: students are normally required to complete 30 credit hours of general education courses. These courses may include higher mathematics courses as advanced statistics or algebra, English composition course, life science course in addition to a research course.
  2. Science and the scientific method: this is an important course for developing an organized and structured method of thinking.
  3. Critical theory in literature and humanities: it refers to the assessment of society and culture based on the knowledge from social sciences and humanities.
  4. Human communication and technology
  5. Students may also be required to complete a course in communication or public speaking
  6. Course related to a modern technology.
  7. The design of these general requirements aims at offering the chance to the students to get familiar to various fields of knowledge including life sciences, mathematics, languages and technology. Students will then have the option to increase the courses in one of these fields based on their interests. Students will have to choose courses from certain concentration as Leadership of change, the Study of Crime and Ethics in the Modern World.

Now I have the interdisciplinary studies degree…where can I work after graduating?

Interdisciplinary studies degree does not qualify directly to specific job. The degree by itself is not appealing in the job market. However, graduates of interdisciplinary studies have the advantage of combining knowledge from science with other fields of study as humanities, business, psychology or social studies. Interdisciplinary studies students have the skills and knowledge to succeed in a wide variety of jobs but they have to spend some time and effort to market them to reach their desired job. The following is a list of jobs that you should consider for a future career with the degree:

  1. Creative writer, journalist or grant writer: having knowledge in language studies, science and humanities is a great advantage and a key for successful writing that attracts the general audience. The knowledge in sociology and humanities for example can help greatly in writing using a persuasive and influential style.
  2. High school teacher: most of the subjects taught in interdisciplinary studies are also taught in high schools. Studying subjects like psychology, sociology and humanities can also be an advantage in communicating with students in an effective way.
  3. College recruiter: graduates of interdisciplinary studies have exposure to most of the subjects in different programs offered by the university. Accordingly, they are more capable of analyzing the interests of applying students compared to other more specialized people.

Should I choose an interdisciplinary studies degree?

Interdisciplinary studies programs are unique compared to other university programs. They offer higher degree of flexibility to the design of the program. This flexibility along with the integration of knowledge from science, humanities and sociology promotes a group of skills to the students:

  1. Creativity: the freedom and flexibility of the program supports the creativity of the students who are allowed to follow their interests. Students with knowledge in multiple disciplines can reach ideas that are not available to more specialized people who mainly focus on a single approach or field to solve a problem.
  2. Critical reading and analysis of scholarly texts: this is a major training of any interdisciplinary studies program. Critical thinking allows the students to evaluate the validity of any presented results.
  3. Formulating research questions: students in these programs are always encouraged to raise questions about what they observe or think about.
  4. Organization of literature and data
  5. Presentation of concepts in a quantitative and qualitative measurable forms
  6. Academic writing: students get the required training to write well organized and structured clear scientific articles.

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Best Jobs for Interdisciplinary Studies Degrees

Ideally, the design of your bachelor of interdisciplinary studies program leads to a very specific career you plan to pursue. However, your degree won’t limit you to that specific career. BIS program graduates have the communication and reasoning skills to success in a variety of careers, particularly in business. Graduates can find work as business analysts, business consultants, office managers, and more.

How to save time and money

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Transition from Undecided to Interdisciplinary Studies

Some students have a difficult time choosing a major and end up taking many random courses in pursuit of an ultimate career decision. When this happens, choosing a major can mean that you have to extend the amount of time to graduation to complete all requirements within that major. Instead, consider if you can use the classes you’ve taken to compose an interdisciplinary studies degree, and avoid the additional tuition and time required to select a predetermined major.

You Might also be Interested in

Many visitors who look for a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies are also interested in the following degrees.

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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