Educational goals aren’t one-size-fits-all, and that’s why interdisciplinary studies is so important. It’s a highly customizable Bachelor of Arts degree designed so that students tailor their studies based on interests and career goals. It has a unique appeal for those who have transferable credit hours from other institutions or who want to learn a variety of skills to take into the job market.
Benefits of Generalized Studies
An interdisciplinary studies program combines two or more fields of study or academic disciplines. A standard degree in this field combines core education courses like math and science, electives and concentration area classes. Because of the core curriculum, students graduate with a stable base to their education, but the flexible interdisciplinary component provides freedom to grow and follow other interests.
Many jobs today require skills in multiple areas. Employers expect employees to excel at a wide variety of tasks, but standard education doesn’t always cater to that expectation. Obtaining a degree in a specified field guarantees students will learn the tried-and-true methods used in the field, but can sometimes stifle creative thought. According to an article in Forbes magazine, people who have knowledge of multiple fields are in a better position to advance in their fields. It said, “The ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields” is the backbone of innovation. To prove the point, Forbes listed well-known examples of when interdisciplinary knowledge aided advancement, including:
The story of Steve Jobs taking inspiration from his calligraphy training into the design of the Macintosh operating system has become Silicon Valley folklore. And don’t forget my favorite multihyphenate, Admiral Grace Hopper, the inventor of compilers, co-creator of the COBOL programming language, and expert marketer who studied a vast array of subjects from architecture to zoology.
On a smaller scale, learning across fields of study can benefit daily operations, as well. An education in humanities teaches a science-oriented person how to communicate ideas and discoveries. As David J. Skorton, who leads the Smithsonian Institution, said, “Many of us never received the education in the humanities or social sciences that would allow us to explain to nonscientists what we do and why it is important.”
Career and Higher Education Prospects for Graduates
Like a liberal arts degree, a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies is a diverse degree that opens a lot of doors. While graduates with this degree work in a variety of fields, some common career paths include:
- Education: curriculum development and teaching, though more certification or education may be required. Instructional coordinators, for example, are part of the curriculum development career track and are required to have a master’s degree in a related field in addition to extensive experience in education. Teaching education requirements vary by state, but licensure is often required.
- Finance: loan processing, personal banking, sales and, with additional experience, purchasing
- Business: public relations, marketing and human resources
- Humanities: journalist, editor, field assistant and museum technician. These positions are considered entry-level and require bachelor’s degrees. Advancing in these fields to become anthropologists, archaeologists and museum curators requires a combination of experience and further education, such as a master’s degree.
- Legal: arbitrator, mediator and conciliator. These positions require a bachelor’s degree and related work experience. To advance in this field, though, further specialization is required, such as obtaining a law degree and passing the state’s bar exam to become a lawyer.
While some of the career options may require further education or certification for refinement down the line, an interdisciplinary studies degree is a starting point for multiple fields. Further specialization ultimately determines salary, but Payscale reports a range from $37,894 as a public policy associate to $65,730 as a senior paralegal.
Customize Your Future with an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree
Bethel University’s program for a general studies degree online is designed to help you succeed as you pursue career advancement and personal enhancement. With a flexible curriculum, you can individualize your education to achieve a balance between developing your known interest and exploring new subject areas.
Our program allows for three different concentration areas from a multitude of choices. Courses are offered in an accelerated format online, so you can further customize your education by moving at a pace that suits you.