Custom Programs of Study

What is a Program of Study?

Traditional majors are usually given a pre-set map that dictates the coursework and credit hours they must take. Instead of being handed a map, IDS majors are invited to create their own maps in the form of a “Program of Study.” Each customized Program of Study bridges 2 or 3 academic disciplines, guiding the IDS major as they chart their own academic trajectory. Once approved, this map ensures each IDS major is equipped with the appropriate research tools, methodological practices, and disciplinary expertise needed to wrestle with their selected “wicked problem.” 

How do I build a Program of Study?

In consultation with the program director, each IDS student crafts a Program of Study featuring coursework from 2 or 3 academic fields that is tailored to address the student’s Guiding Directives (a wicked problem, vital questions, and sticky ideas). Students map out their Programs of Study on the IDS Proposed Program of Study Form. The design of the Program of Study is not haphazard; rather, it plays an integral part in the extensive IDS application process. When applying to the program, students meet with a designated faculty liaison in each of their intended disciplinary areas to seek guidance and receive approval for their course selections.

What are the requirements for a Program of Study?

In total, 36 credit hours are required for the IDS major. In addition to the required interdisciplinary studies courses (IDS 291 and IDS 494), IDS majors integrate coursework from select disciplinary areas for a minimum of 24 upper-division course hours. If a student integrates two disciplinary areas, they must select 12 upper-division hours per disciplinary area; if three, then they select 8 upper-division hours per disciplinary area.

One upper-division course functions as a “bridge” course, which addresses several key concerns related to their final project topic. Applicants provide a brief rationale for this bridge course to demonstrate thoughtful, forward-looking integration. 

Furthermore, a total of 6 hours of IDS elective courses are required for the major. The 2-hour IDS Independent Study (IDS 495) is recommended to be taken as an elective prior to taking the senior seminar.

What are some examples?

By nature, each individualized Program of Study is different. To get a sense of the ways IDS majors integrate a variety of disciplinary areas, check out some of our featured alumni below! 

Wendy Jennings '11

In her Program of Study, Wendy integrated coursework from Anthropology, International Relations, and Economics.

Colt Seager '16

Colt integrated perspectives from Biblical & Theological Studies with Studio Art in his Program of Study.

Joanna Chin '14

Joanna combined coursework from the disciplines of Anthropology, English, and Psychology in her Program of Study. 

Christina Goodrich '17

During her time in the IDS program, Christina combined perspectives from Applied Health Science, Spanish, and Chemistry.

Caroline Willett '20

Caroline integrated coursework from the fields of Biology, Chemistry, and Human Needs & Global Resources in her Program of Study.