Online interdisciplinary studies degree programs may be a perfect option for students who are unsure of what their career interests are. Plenty of universities offer degrees in topics such as “Interdisciplinary Studies,” which can help you explore your interests while still making yourself marketable in the job pool. Interdisciplinary Studies majors learn about everything from writing and communication to business and information technology, and are sometimes given the flexibility to create a curriculum consisting of two or three specific topics they love.
Many online colleges offer Interdisciplinary Studies degrees because it is fairly easy to find an entire curriculum of classes in this major that can be delivered via distance education. You’ll use platforms like Blackboard to complete assignments and communicate with professors and classmates via discussion boards, email, virtual office hours, web chats, and more. This format is the perfect solution for busy adult learners who wouldn’t otherwise have the time to attend college.
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The 30 Best Online General Studies Degrees Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer interdisciplinary degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer online interdisciplinary studies degrees and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:
Program Popularity: How many undergraduates choose to earn their degree in interdisciplinary studies over a more traditional major? To find out, we looked at both the number of students who earned their bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary/general studies in the most recent school year as well as the percentage of all bachelor’s degree graduates that that number represents.
Overall Online Program Strength: How many online bachelor’s degrees does the school offer? Having more programs available online means more course options (as well as resources and experienced faculty) for interdisciplinary studies majors who want to earn their degree at a distance.
Academic Variety: How many different academic disciplines or concentrations does the school offer as part of its interdisciplinary studies program?
Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?
After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points. Read more about the best cheap online interdisciplinary studies degree programs below!
If you're looking for a degree program that provides lots of opportunities to mix and match various interests, Brigham Young University will be right up your alley. The school's accredited online interdisciplinary studies degree gives candidates three ways to earn their degree: by selecting two concentrations, one concentration and a minor, or a concentration and two certificates or "clusters." And considering the program offers seven concentrations, 10 minors, and 26 clusters, the options you'll have to combine different areas of study are practically unlimited. The selection even includes some surprisingly unique offerings, like Family History Research, Software Engineering, and Literary Analysis.
The Bachelor of Arts in Letters, Arts, and Sciences is perhaps one of the most general degree programs you'll find. While it does include 24 credits in "option" courses (like your concentration), these classes don't all have to come from the same academic discipline. Rather, you'll work with an advisor to develop an individualized course list that meets your goals. While enrolled in this accredited interdisciplinary degree online, you'll also take classes from across the academic spectrum in order to obtain a true liberal arts education. Plus, you'll take required courses in communication, research, theory, and critical analysis - all skills that will serve you well in the real world.
Fort Hays State University has been offering its BGS degree at a distance since 1980 - that's nearly 40 years! Few - if any - other schools on this online general studies degree ranking can claim that much experience. And FHSU's program has plenty to show for its years in the game. For nontraditional learners, the program lets you transfer up to 94 credits (as many as 64 from a two-year school). Plus, military members can earn up to 60 credits for ACE training. As for the curriculum, you'll get to choose one area of concentration (21 credits) along with 58 credits of open electives.
Northeastern State University offers a straightforward BGS degree that allows you to customize your studies within a set framework. This approach is great for students who want a personalized education without the uncertainty or lack of structure that characterize many affordable online general studies degrees. To meet the course requirements, you'll pick three core areas of specialization from a list of nearly 50 options. These span the full academic spectrum, from accounting and chemistry to social welfare and technology. For one of the three specializations, NSU will even let you custom design your own study area based on your career interests.
At West Texas A&M University you can pick from two different top online interdisciplinary studies degrees. One is a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences and is designed for applicants who have earned an A.A.S. from a community college. Typically, this degree is in a technical/vocational field, which you'll supplement at WTAMU with "professional development" classes that match your career goals. The other option is a Bachelor of General Studies. This program is better suited to traditional students who want a broad education. The curriculum requires you to take 78 credit hours of electives, no more than 36 of which can come from a single academic discipline.
Most interdisciplinary studies programs are designed to achieve one of three goals: to provide a customizable degree plan, to impart skills like critical thinking, or to help transfer students make the most of their prior learning. Some schools on this online interdisciplinary studies degrees ranking even aim to do two out of the three. But Eastern Oregon University manages to accomplish all three! An easy transfer policy, 100% online classes, and optional part-time study makes the program ideal for adult learners. At the same time, the curriculum offers plenty of customizability in its coursework, letting you choose to combine multiple minors, transfer credits, and/or experiential learning credits to earn your degree.
As a general studies major at Indiana University - Southeast, you'll have a chance to acquire a broad education while also specializing in a particular subject. The first step is to select a "disciplinary area of learning." This could be in the Arts and Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, or Science and Math. You'll take 12 to 15 credits in any classes that fall under one of these three categories. The next step in earning this accredited Bachelor of General Studies online is to pick an "area of concentration." This is where you take your learning in-depth by selecting 18 credits of coursework in a specific subject within your disciplinary area.
The goal of East Carolina University's BS in University Studies program is to give students a degree option that is both "personally interesting" and "professionally relevant" and doesn't exist as a current major. It's also "accepting of accumulated credit hours," making it ideal for undergrads who have already taken a large number of courses. And to help you get started on earning this interdisciplinary degree online, the program offers a special University Studies 2000 course. In this course, you'll work with faculty to identify your career interests, determine a "thematic core" that encompasses those interests, and write a curriculum plan around that theme.
For a low-stress, flexible bachelor's degree, consider attending Western Illinois University. Here, you'll find an online interdisciplinary studies degree that makes it easy to earn your diploma without jumping through lots of hoops. First, WIU will accept not only transfer college credits, but also ACE (from non-collegiate and military training) and proficiency exam credit. Plus, you'll pay in-state tuition for all online courses - regardless of residence - and get a "tuition freeze" once you enroll. That means that for four years, you'll pay the same tuition rate as in your first semester - even if the university hikes rates as a whole.
Indiana Wesleyan University's general studies program caters specifically to working adults. Knowing that many nontraditional learners struggle to find online classes at the times and in the subjects they need, IWU's goal is to offer as much flexibility as possible to make it easy for students to earn their degree. As part of this mission, the online general studies degree program provides concentrations in popular, broadly-applicable fields like business, communications, human services, and life sciences. Along with a generous transfer credit policy and flexible courses (including the option to take evening classes that meet once a week), IWU's program emerges as a leader in convenience and accessibility.
A transfer-friendly program, Mayville State's University Studies degree will help you put your prior college credits to maximum use. Regardless of what other majors you've had or classes you've taken, MSU will find a way to apply them to one of the program's course requirements, whether that be electives, a minor, or the BUS "essential studies" core. Speaking of essential studies, this sequence forms the main part of Mayville's affordable online interdisciplinary studies degree. To complete the requirements, you'll pick 36 credits from one field of study. There are over a dozen options for online students, including popular disciplines like business, education, and psychology.
West Virginia University takes a fairly standard approach to its multidisciplinary studies program. Instead of choosing a major, students in this program pick three minors that "work well together" or revolve around a related discipline. The university also works with local community colleges to help those transferring into the online interdisciplinary studies major make the most of their prior knowledge by applying their credits to existing minors. Fortunately, this is a pretty easy task thanks to WVU's selection of nearly two-dozen online minors. Examples including traditional choices like Business, History, and Political Science as well as unique career-oriented options like Forensic and Investigative Science, Music Industry, and Strategic Social Media.
There are two ways to earn an affordable Bachelor of General Studies online at Missouri Southern State University. The first and more general option simply requires you to complete all general university course requirements; you can complete the rest of your classes in as many academic disciplines as you want. Alternatively, you could complete a "Directed BGS" in which you "combine courses from several areas to create a distinctive program." In the latter case, you'll consult with faculty from whichever departments are most closely related to your chosen areas to help design a unique course of study.
Because interdisciplinary studies programs are known for their open-ended curricula, they sometimes attract undergrads who are struggling to identify their interests. But that's not the case at Wichita State University. Rather, WSU's accredited online general studies degree is "designed for students with well-defined career goals" but whose interests don't align with an existing major. The program requires students to pick a pre-structured concentration in one of nine job-oriented fields; options include Aging Studies, Political Science, Psychology, and Social Work, among others. You can also choose whether to earn a BA or BS degree (only the former requires you to complete a foreign language credit).
If you're looking for a program that will let you pick and choose just about any classes you want, head on over to Governors State University. This cheap online interdisciplinary studies degree has only 15 required credits (not including gen eds). Other than that, the program leaves it up to you to earn your remaining 64-68 credits entirely from electives! Many students do choose to concentrate in certain disciplines by combining multiple minors (there are 21 from which to choose!) but that is by no means a requirement. As long as you earn enough upper-division credits, you can build your degree from the ground up using any online classes you want.
Faculty at Texas Tech understand that undergrads are often interested in multiple different majors. But they also know that your best career prospects will come if you demonstrate that you have a direction in your college studies. That's why the school's BGS major requires you to pick areas of study that "form a coherent specialization" not currently represented by any available majors. Most online interdisciplinary studies majors achieve this goal by combining existing minors. Two possible examples could include history, political science, and sociology or technical communication, mathematics, and wind energy.
Have you already earned at least 75 credits toward your bachelor's degree? If so, you can finish your diploma in the fast lane by enrolling in Indiana State University's Bachelor of General Studies online. The program will leverage your prior learning while giving you broad latitude in how to complete your remaining coursework. All you need to do is complete a minor, seven upper-division electives (or another minor), and a general studies capstone project and voila - you'll be ready to graduate. Not only that, but the program will even let you create your own minor by combining courses that all relate to a single academic theme or area of study.
As far as liberal arts programs go, the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies is much more technically-oriented than most. To be sure, you'll get to mix and match various areas of concentration - just like most programs on this interdisciplinary degrees online ranking. But rather than cover topics like humanities or art, UNO's concentrations focus on technical, career-minded disciplines like Aviation Studies, Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Nonprofit Administration. In another boon for career-oriented students, the program will also award credit not just for prior college courses, but also for "formal training experiences" you may have completed on-the-job.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe self-describes its BGS program as "a unique challenge for continued self-improvement and for career enhancement." In fact, the school encourages online general studies degree majors to pick whatever classes fit their interests and goals. The curriculum's only requirements are that you pick 30 credits from one "major concentration" and 12 credits from a "secondary concentration." But these concentrations don't cover specific subjects. Instead, each one represents a group of several disciplines, such as "Arts and Humanities," "Business," and "Applied Sciences." This approach gives you wide latitude to select classes that come from not just two, but several different departments.
Although convenient in all respects, Youngstown State University's BGS program is particularly accommodating to students who have earned their associate's degree. Typically, the curriculum requires degree candidates to pick two "focus areas" of study. However, those with an AA/AS/AAS degree can apply those prior credits as one of their focus areas, meaning they'll only have to complete one more through Youngstown. And while their website doesn't list the specific areas of focus you can choose while earning this accredited Bachelor of General Studies online, you can trust that you'll get to choose from plenty of practical courses. How do we know? Because YSU also offers online bachelor's degrees in career-minded majors like nursing, public health, and criminal justice.
Lamar University offers one of the more structured programs on our ranking of affordable online general studies degrees. Rather than provide students with an unlimited selection of courses, Lamar's program lets you pick three specializations from a carefully curated list of topics. Each category is designed to cover skills and knowledge that will benefit you in a variety of real-world careers. Examples include Computer Science, Corporate Communications, Family Studies, and Global Issues (there are seven options in total). In addition, the program stands out for the convenience of its online classes. Not only does Lamar offer several yearly start dates, but it also delivers courses in both eight- and 15-week formats to accommodate students with different scheduling needs.
Undergrads who can't decide what to major in often describe themselves as "undeclared." But students who simply have too many subjects they want to major in can go for the University of Central Florida's interdisciplinary studies program. With a mission to help degree candidates "capitalize upon diverse interests and talents," the program lets students combine "restricted electives" from two of 13 possible disciplines. Options include Commerce, Computational Sciences, Letters and Modern Languages, and Life/Biomedical Sciences, among many other options. And unlike many schools on this online interdisciplinary studies degrees ranking, UCF's program will also let you earn credit for completing a research project or internship.
If you have lots of college credit but have yet to earn a bachelor's degree - or need a bachelor's degree (in no particular major) for work - check out the University of Central Missouri. UCM's program aims to help students make the best use of their existing course credits and earn their bachelor's degree as efficiently as possible. Although it won't prepare you for any specific career field, getting your Bachelor of General Studies online from UCM can help open the door to myriad job opportunities simply because you'll have a four-year degree.
South Dakota State University combines practicality with liberal arts learning to create a degree that is versatile yet career-centered. Each of the program's 11 areas of emphasis are designed for a specific type of learner/worker. For example, it offers engineering classes "for the builder," wellness classes "for the coach," and social science classes "for the listener." Other areas of emphasis include Allied Health, Education, Humanities, Technology, and Science and Math - among others. As a student enrolled in this affordable Bachelor of General Studies online, you'll get to combine any three of these areas to create a program that's totally personalized to your career goals.
Appropriately titled as a "professional studies" program, Fayetteville State's BS degree arms candidates with "twenty-first century skills" - in critical thinking and communication, for example - that will make them more attractive to employers. Practically speaking, the program allows you to earn this accredited interdisciplinary degree online in one of three ways. The first is by combining coursework from multiple existing majors that all fit your career interests. Alternatively, you could select related coursework from several different disciplines that fall under a comprehensive theme (e.g. combining technical and communications classes under a social media theme). Lastly, you could devise an applied/technical concentration based on previously earned credits - such as from an associate's degree.
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 30 top cheap interdisciplinary degrees online!
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