Is an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree Right for You?

Interdisciplinary degree programs integrate multiple areas of study, enabling students to design their own majors. These programs are for students who have determined that a major in a single discipline will not provide the training they need for their desired careers. Students seeking an interdisciplinary degree should consult with their advisers to construct the most beneficial combination of courses to meet their goals.

In most cases, the degree plan consists of liberal arts classes from areas such as journalism and political science, along with business courses. Interdisciplinary students must display their proficiency in multiple areas and demonstrate that the disciplines complement one another. If you want a career that requires a broad knowledge and skill base, an interdisciplinary studies degree could be the path for you.

Advice for Earning Your Interdisciplinary Studies Degree Online

Interdisciplinary studies is a unique degree path that may not be available at some online colleges. Narrow your search to schools that offer interdisciplinary studies or independent study as a degree option — don’t wait until time to declare your major to inquire about this option.

Also, verify that your chosen school provides hands-on advising for this type of degree plan. It is important to construct a curriculum that meets graduation requirements and includes a mix of courses that will provide the skills and knowledge you need. Some schools may offer plan options or areas of emphasis for this degree path. Also, be sure to verify that the institution is regionally or nationally accredited to ensure quality, access to federal financial aid, and eligibility for graduate admissions.

Required Courses

Online Interdisciplinary Studies degree programs typically include a general education core that covers basic math, science, and humanities requirements. The major courses may be pre-set if the school offers an interdisciplinary studies major. Or, they may be hand-picked by the student with the help of an advisor. Some required courses might include:

  • Foundations of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Oral Communications
  • Business Writing
  • Advanced Written Communications
  • Interdisciplinary Capstone

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies include:

Lobbyist

  • Expected Growth: 21%
  • Average Annual Salary: $61,690

Lobbyists promote the interests of businesses and/or groups to legislators. Many types of organizations, including small civic groups and large corporations, rely on lobbyists. Job responsibilities include staying up to date on pertinent issues coming before the legislature, interacting with members of Congress to collect information and knowing which bills will be heard when by what committees.

This position also entails being present at meetings and hearings. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent median incomes; actual salaries can vary greatly based on your experience, size and type of employer, education level, certifications, and other factors.

Public Relations Managers and Specialists

  • Expected Growth: 21%
  • Average Annual Salary: $108,060

Public relations managers and specialists manage the public’s opinion and perception of a company or individual. They write press releases, garner interviews, and manipulate the type of exposure their client receives. An interdisciplinary studies bachelor’s degree is useful because PR managers need business, communications, and writing skills, as well as a broad knowledge base to apply in different industries. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Politicians

  • Expected Growth: 8%
  • Average Annual Salary: $102,105

The job of a politician is to run federal, state, and/or local governments, serve as the voice of the people, and make decisions that affect the function of their community. All politicians are elected into their respective positions. Once in office, they have the ability to create and pass laws that directly impact the entire community, state, or country. City council and school board careers also provide possible politician positions. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Journalists

  • Expected Growth: -6%
  • Average Annual Salary: $86,895

Journalists collect information about current events, sports, politics, business and other topics relevant to everyday life. They take all of the material they gather and report it to their audience. Many journalists specialize in a particular area, such as sports or weather. They are typically hired by newspapers, television stations, websites and other media, such as magazines. With print journalism slowing down, little job growth is expected. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Social Workers

  • Expected Growth: 25%
  • Average Annual Salary: $48,550

Social workers help clients deal with social, personal, and emotional challenges, either by connecting with resources or provided face-to-face clinical care. Social workers are employed at school, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, colleges and universities, mental health clinics, and more. Social work is an interdisciplinary field that values a varied undergraduate education. With a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, you will need a Master of Social Work to qualify for social work positions. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

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