Interdisciplinary Studies: Transform Your Education

by Mariah Davis

Build around your passions, and make your own education.

For students that don’t fit into a particular major, or would like to be more engaged with their education, there is another option offered at Plymouth State University called the Interdisciplinary Studies program. Interdisciplinary Studies students design their own majors based on their own strengths, passions, and goals.

The Interdisciplinary Studies program provides students with an opportunity to combine disciplines to create a new major that revolves around a unifying theme. Students design majors that fit them, rather than settling into a major that isn’t quite right.

Dr. Robin DeRosa, the director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, explained why this program is important, “you might be getting shoved in a hole that is not exactly appropriate for you.”

Victoria Tobin, a junior at Plymouth State University, designed a major called “Event Management and Planning.” Tobin feels like the Interdisciplinary Studies program is the best option for her academically and professionally: “I see the Interdisciplinary Studies program as an opportunity to take control of my education for the first time since I started my academic career. The IDS program allows me to choose what I believe is the best pathway to the career that I want.”

At 57%, Plymouth State University has a lower graduation rate than the national average. The Interdisciplinary Studies program has improved this rate by providing students with an opportunity to succeed. Rather than dropping out of school altogether, students in the Interdisciplinary Studies program have an opportunity to work around their failures or pitfalls and build a program that works for them. “When we open more pathways for students to take, we may see graduation rates improve,” says DeRosa. It’s better for students to find a way to finish their degrees than to drop out of college altogether because they’ve already invested valuable resources into their education. When students drop out of college, they set themselves farther back than where they were when they started their degrees.

The Interdisciplinary Studies program is also interesting to employers who are recruiting recent college graduates because IDS students are experienced in a variety of disciplines. “IDS students tend to be future-oriented. They typically have a sense of where they want to go,” says DeRosa. “Employers value people who are not strictly academic.”

Some people confuse the Interdisciplinary Studies program with having a double major, but they are very different academic paths. “Students who have a double major may never see those two worlds come together,” says DeRosa.  Students in the Interdisciplinary Studies program are required to take the Interdisciplinary Studies Senior Seminar before they graduate; a course that revolves around a capstone project. The capstone project challenges Interdisciplinary Studies students to think creatively about the disciplines that make up their programs and how they’re integrated. “We put students in the driver’s seat of their curriculum,” says DeRosa.

By combining disciplines and creating majors not offered at PSU, students in the Interdisciplinary Studies program take control of their education. Some of the majors created by IDS students are: Health Science, Pre-Med, Cannabis Industry Entrepreneurship, Wildlife Management, Music Management, Sports Medicine, Pre-Physical Therapy, Weather Journalism, and Dance Entrepreneurship. With over a hundred students in the program, the list is long.

“With this program, I am finally getting my money’s worth out of higher education,” says Tobin.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

One Response to “Interdisciplinary Studies: Transform Your Education”

May 11, 2017 at 1:34 pm, Robin DeRosa said:

Though I don’t want to imply that we are not a 100% academic program! I think we emphasize the applied part of academia– the praxis where theory and practice come together– and a lot of our students are building majors because they have a sense of something they would like to pursue after graduation and they would like to build a customized academic path to lay a foundation for that future. We really are all about the academic disciplines, but our use of disciplinarity is not strict: it’s integrated, surprising, personalized, and applied. Just wanted to clarify that, since it’s important to note that IDS is a highly rigorous program, built squarely– though in an innovative way– out of the academic coursework that fuels PSU’s traditional majors.

Comments are closed.