Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary studies isn't for everyone. Plenty of Richmond students create interdisciplinary experiences by double majoring or choosing a minor in a complementary, or even seemingly contradictory field. When deciding on a double major, some students can envision exactly how the two subjects will eventually intertwine and lead them toward a career path. Other students don't think the two subjects will ever come together, but they appreciate the skills and talents that each discipline asks of them.

Students who major in interdisciplinary studies all have one thing in common. They are interested in many fields of study. Interdisciplinary studies majors often say that they considered a major in (fill in the blank) but realized that while they were completely fascinated by half the course requirements, they were uninterested in the other half. Adding a second major or a minor doesn't seem as practical as developing one field of study that meets their varied interests and needs.

Students have designed ambitious programs that combine fields like English and history, art history and music, psychology and anthropology, or history and science. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.

Designing Your Major

Students who are interested in creating an interdisciplinary studies major are encouraged to meet with the program coordinator early in their undergraduate career. Since students at Richmond don’t declare a major in their first year on campus, it is typical for students to consider the interdisciplinary major during their sophomore year and apply in the spring. By that point, they have taken a number of courses and have a better understanding of the disciplines they enjoy studying. The deadline for applying to the program is April of the sophomore year.

Students considering an interdisciplinary studies major should ask themselves whether an interdisciplinary program would outweigh the benefits of simply picking up an additional minor or major. They should also consider the nine courses they would ideally take to create their unique field of study. Lastly, they should begin considering how their senior thesis would evolve out of that coursework.

The program coordinator can help students answer some of these questions as well as direct them to specific faculty members who can lend advice on building a discipline-specific curriculum.

  • Major

    The Interdisciplinary Studies Major

    Note: A grade of not less than C- (1.7) is required in each course comprising the

    15 units of coursework including the senior thesis, noting:

    • The nature of the approved program will determine whether the degree is a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.

    • The specific program of study is developed by the student in consultation with two full-time faculty advisors in academic departments at UR with expertise in the students' subject of inquiry, one of whom must be in the School of Arts and Sciences (who will become the student’s academic advisor).

    • As a degree awarded by the School of Arts and Sciences IDST majors must demonstrate a focus on the liberal arts.

    • The program must be approved by the student's two faculty advisors, the chairs of the faculty advisors' academic departments, the Interdisciplinary Studies committee.

    • Students must demonstrate competence in two academic fields by completing all foundational courses in the two primary disciplines in addition to advanced courses. (NOTE: students wishing to study Marketing are required to take MKT320 and are limited to two additional MKT courses.)

  • Honors

    Interdisciplinary Studies Honors Program

    Because all Interdisciplinary Studies majors are unique to the individual student, there are no general requirements for honors beyond those established by the Arts and Sciences Honors Committee. Thus, to write for honors in Interdisciplinary Studies, the student must approach the Interdisciplinary Studies coordinator, be invited to write for honors, and submit the Honors program as required by the Honors Committee. Upon approval of the honors program, IDST401-IDST402 will be substituted for IDST398-IDST399 in the student's curriculum. The two thesis advisors will be the readers for honors and the coordinator will be bound by their judgment.