What is an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree?

An interdisciplinary studies degree essentially gives you the chance to customize your field of study.

Most college programs feature required courses that you must take, but you may find that those courses don’t relate to what you want to study or even what you want to do with your degree. An interdisciplinary studies major sometimes called a general studies major at some schools, features a number of different courses that let you customize your degree and select what you want to study.

Choosing Your Concentrations

Though an interdisciplinary degree is different from a traditional degree, you still need to select the concentrations or main fields that you want to study. Most schools give you the option of selecting just one primary field or study or up to three concentrations. U.S. News & World Report author Brian Burnsed recommends looking at a few fields and taking classes in each one before deciding on your primary major and concentrations. Burnsed also suggests choosing topics that you feel passionate about. Once you select your concentrations, changing your program may require that you spend more time in school.

What About General Education Requirements?

Though an interdisciplinary studies program will let you take classes from multiple disciplines, you still need to meet the basic requirements for graduation. Colleges often require that bachelor’s degree students take a minimum of 30 credits of general education classes. These classes may include higher level math classes like college algebra or statistics, at least one class on English composition, life sciences classes and a research course. Your school may also require that students take a class on communications or public speaking and a course on emerging forms of technology.

Taking Electives

With traditional college programs, you take around 120 credit hours or more of classes. Some credits come from required courses within your major or general education courses. You’ll take electives to reach the necessary number of credits for graduation. With an interdisciplinary studies program, you can actually use the courses you take from other disciplines as your electives. If you have a concentration in business and a second concentration in communications, you might use the psychology and sociology courses that you take as your electives. It’s important that you speak with your adviser though to ensure that you meet the requirements for graduation.

Why Choose an Interdisciplinary Studies Major?

Some students might think that an interdisciplinary studies degree is best for those who don’t know what they can to study, but these programs can actually help narrow down your focus and assist you in your career. If you want to work with recent immigrants, you might study Spanish or another foreign language, social work and government policy. Interdisciplinary studies programs can also help you major in a subject that your college doesn’t offer. A university may offer a few sociology and social work classes without offering a major in either subject. You can take classes that relate to those subjects to earn your degree and gain a better understanding of those subjects.

Interdisciplinary studies programs are available through a number of colleges and allow students to design and customize their own majors. An interdisciplinary studies degree program lets you choose a major or concentration in more than one area and study the subjects and topics that interest you.

Related Resource: Best Affordable Online Interdisciplinary Studies Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)