Multidisciplinary Studies Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a multidisciplinary studies degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of associate's and bachelor's degrees and potential careers.
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Studying Multiple Disciplines: Degrees at a Glance

Students who have difficulty choosing a field of study or who wish to customize a program may be interested in a multidisciplinary studies program. Sometimes referred to as 'interdisciplinary studies', these programs are available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels and give you the chance to develop marketable skills and knowledge in more than one area.

Generally speaking, people with multidisciplinary studies degrees go into many of the same professional areas as those with business or communications degrees. Graduates of multidisciplinary studies programs may be of interest to employers who need versatile and creative employees. Additionally, designing your own course of study can demonstrate potential for innovative thinking and decision making. However, because of the broad academic variance of student-designed curricula, the career paths for graduates aren't cut-and-dried.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this Degree For? Students considering different areas of study or wishing to transfer to a 4-year school Students with multiple professional interests who wish to structure their own program
Time to Completion Two years, full-time Four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements General education requirements, plus electives from two or three disciplines Core curriculum plus courses from multiple disciplines or core curriculum plus a student-designed curriculum
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED
Online Availability Yes Yes

Associate's Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies

Programs at this level award degrees such as the Associate of Interdisciplinary Studies or Associate in Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. Students in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary studies programs typically complete at least 60 credit hours, which include at least 30 credit hours of general education requirements. Program structure is generally divided into several emphasis areas or disciplines to help students develop a foundation in more than one field of study.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Suitable for students who aren't interested in a specific field of study
  • Degrees are often easily transferred to a bachelor's degree program
  • Programs from community and junior colleges present cost-effective options

Cons

  • On its own, this degree doesn't lead directly into any specific career or job
  • Course and discipline selection can be limited from some junior colleges
  • Faculty must approve student-designed curricula

Courses and Requirements

Since these associate's degrees are often designed to be transfer degrees, they typically include a full general education core curriculum. After the core curriculum, the rest of the program is typically spent choosing electives from two disciplines. Among the possible disciplines that can be blended to round out the degree include science, arts, humanities and technology. However, schools often want these selections to be made sensibly, and whichever school you choose may require you to have your course of study approved by department heads or faculty advisors.

Online Course Info

Multidisciplinary studies associate's degree programs can be found completely or partially online. As mentioned above, most of these programs require general education and other liberal arts classes, which are commonly offered online individually by many colleges.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

When pursuing an associate's degree in multidisciplinary studies, it's important to remember that the disciplines you select should be chosen logically and with a sense of direction. For example, you might choose to blend education and science as your two disciplines to determine whether you might want to be a science teacher. Perhaps you might blend technology and arts in preparation for a 4-year degree in graphic design or architecture. This kind of deliberate decision making with regard to your two disciplines can demonstrate forward, creative thinking to your professors.

Bachelor's Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies

Bachelor's degree programs in multidisciplinary studies are offered to those who want to blend skills in several different areas to prepare for unique careers or to continue into graduate school. For example, with a multidisciplinary studies major, you could combine studies in business and a foreign language to pursue work in the international business sector, or you could blend studies in biology and chemistry to prepare for medical school. As with associate's degree programs, multidisciplinary bachelor's degree program curricula choices generally require faculty approval.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Programs offer a considerable measure of flexibility for students to combine disciplines
  • Many careers require versatile individuals, so being knowledgeable and proficient in multiple areas can enhance your employability
  • Can serve as preparation for advanced graduate degrees, such as those in medicine or law

Cons

  • If you're considering graduate study, you should take graduate school entrance requirements into consideration when designing your bachelor's degree curriculum
  • May not be suitable for those who struggle with self-direction

Courses and Requirements

The courses you take vary based on the disciplines you choose, but most programs require you to meet a set minimum of credit hours to complete the multidisciplinary studies major. Some programs have established emphasis tracks with cross-disciplinary course curricula already determined, while others allow you to design your own, provided you gain faculty approval and meet the minimum credit-hour requirement.

Online Course Info

As with associate's degree programs, bachelor's degree programs in multidisciplinary studies offer online options. Online programs may limit the emphasis or minor options somewhat, since many science fields, for example, require lab work that must be completed on campus.

Stand Out with this Degree

Generally speaking, university majors are getting more and more specialized, and this increasingly specialized nature doesn't work for everyone. Thus, degrees that combine disciplines are becoming more appealing and popular to students. To stand out among other graduates with this degree, you'll need a solidly designed curriculum and to develop an attractive and engaging resume. Getting involved in activities and organizations related to your disciplines can enhance your resume. Working closely with your academic advisor to make sure you stay on a directed path can also help increase your chances of success with this degree.

Other Degrees to Consider

Bachelor's degree programs in liberal studies or general studies offer a similar broad-scoped education, but they may differ in subtle ways. Multidisciplinary studies degrees can typically be thought of as a liberal arts degree with 'double minor' degree, since they generally require students to blend two disciplines in a logical, directed fashion. By contrast, a liberal or general studies degree allows you to earn a bachelor's degree with no major, meaning you can customize your own degree with even more variation than you can with a multidisciplinary studies degree. Furthermore, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) noted that in 2012, graduates with liberal or general studies degrees earned higher salaries than graduates of liberal arts majors.

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