Is an Interdisciplinary Degree for You?
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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.
Advice for Earning Your Interdisciplinary Degree Online
When pursued online, interdisciplinary degrees require just as much effort as traditional ones. Popular with adults looking to advance their careers, online programs offer flexibility in both time and subject matter, allowing students to expand their knowledge and skills as they see fit. However, though flexible, online programs require dedication. Students should be self-motivated and able to work independently, as they will not have the structure of attending school in a physical classroom. Most important, students should make sure their prospective schools are accredited. Accreditation is a quality assurance measure that indicates a college meets established standards of education. Students can visit the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to research a school's accreditation.
The courses within an interdisciplinary degree are selected by the student in collaboration with a faculty adviser. The student's disciplines of choice should complement one another, and there should be a coherent purpose for selecting them together. To ensure they are selecting the right classes, each student meets with an adviser before the semester begins to discuss selection. Consistent correspondence with advisers is encouraged, given the unique nature of the interdisciplinary degree. On their own time, students can use online degree audits to track their progress. Most interdisciplinary degrees have standard requirements, including credits in English composition, humanities, social science, math and natural science.
Common Career Paths
Because interdisciplinary degrees vary based on student goals, there are no common career paths, though many tend to fall under the realms of liberal arts and business. Ultimately, the student's desired career path determines the disciplines they study in these degree programs. Possible career choices include (but are not limited to):
- Lobbyist: 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 median annual salary for public relations managers and specialists was $57,550 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Politician: The job of a politician is to run federal, state and/or local governments. 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. There are many levels of politicians. Some, such as the president, operate on a macro level; others work on a micro level, such as mayors. City council and school board careers also provide possible politician positions. The job duties of politicians vary based on title. However in general, politicians serve as the voice of the people and make decisions that affect the function of their community.
Employment of political scientists is expected to increase 8 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $107,420 in 2010.
- Journalist: 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. Employment of reporters, correspondents and broadcast analysts is projected to expand 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $36,000 in 2010.