Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies

If you are highly motivated and self directed, you might want to consider the interdisciplinary studies program. It will enable you to pursue an individualized, multidisciplinary course of study outside of existing majors and minors. You’ll work closely with a faculty advisor to build a program from classes offered across the college, including those in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and schools of business and education.  

What is an interdisciplinary studies program?

Knowledge about the world, for purposes of academic study, traditionally has been divided into fields or disciplines. Some disciplines, such as history and philosophy, have a long past, while fields like sociology, economics and psychology have developed as distinct approaches to knowledge only over the last two centuries. The emergence of other disciplines, such as communication, computer science and African-American studies, is even more recent. Each discipline has a relatively distinct approach to knowledge, incorporating certain analytical frameworks and methodological approaches. Disciplines are characterized by distinct subject matter or a particular set of questions. Each has an explicit set of observations of what is perceived to be true and rests on an implicit set of assumptions and ethical views. However, a single disciplinary approach is often inadequate to address the issues or problems scholars seek to understand. Therefore, scholars began to pursue interdisciplinary courses of study by using the tools and knowledge from multiple disciplines in order to gain new understandings of the world. At Berry College, the interdisciplinary studies program will allow you to work outside of traditional disciplinary boundaries by developing an individualized course of study that draws on knowledge from multiple perspectives in order to explore problems or issues that are beyond the scope of any one discipline.  

What types of interdisciplinary programs are possible?

Examples of courses of study possible through the interdisciplinary studies program include:

  • Outdoor leadership.
  • Creative therapy.
  • Disability studies.
  • Family studies.
  • Sports psychology.
  • Creative writing.
  • Health sciences.
  • Christian education.
  • Child development.
  • Women’s studies.
  • Ethics and policy.
  • American studies. 

What will be required of me?

If you pursue an interdisciplinary studies major, you will:

  • Actively plan your program, integrating classes from multiple disciplines into a unified and coherent course of study.
    • Your principle of integration can be historical, regional, thematic or problem-focused.
    • The major requires 48 credit hours and culminates in a capstone paper or project that integrates your coursework.
  • Cultivate a working relationship with your faculty advisor.
  • Have the opportunity to integrate the methods and interpretive frameworks of multiple disciplines to understand a historical era, a region, an issue or a problem.
  • Develop skills in research, critical thinking, and oral and written communication.

Will faculty members work with me?

You’ll find that many Berry faculty members have interdisciplinary backgrounds and pursue interdisciplinary study and research. In addition, our low student-to-faculty ratio helps us provide you with individualized attention and guidance. 

Can I learn outside the classroom?

You’ll be encouraged to pursue a wide range of learning opportunities related to your studies, including:

  • Study abroad.
  • Internships.
  • Field work.
  • Service-learning projects.
  • Independent study. 

What type of careers might I be prepared for?

The knowledge and skills acquired in the interdisciplinary studies major can be the foundation for careers in many areas, including education, social work, counseling, government, science, health care, business, law and the arts. Interdisciplinary studies majors often are particularly well-suited to pursue graduate work in their area of interest. 

How and when would I apply for the interdisciplinary studies program?

If you are interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary studies major, you should meet with the coordinator of interdisciplinary studies and then with appropriate faculty members to discuss your interests and proposed course of study. An application for admission to the program is required and includes a two to three-page essay describing a proposed course of study and a listing of the courses to be taken. Your plan must be developed and approved before you complete 70 semester hours. To propose an interdisciplinary studies major, you should have a 2.5 or higher GPA for all Berry courses completed.