Interdisciplinary Degree Program

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Interdisciplinary Degree Program

An interdisciplinary approach to education recognizes the important and necessary contributions of different fields of knowledge in the pursuit of truth and yet it seeks to integrate, if possible, or hold in tension, if necessary, disciplinary insights that enable us to more effectively ask the better questions that may ultimately enhance the well- being of all living entities. Put simply, interdisciplinarians are needed to work alongside disciplinarians to help us appreciate, solve, and/or manage complex problems that often go beyond the ability of those functioning from a single discipline of study.


The IDP 54-hour concentration requirement is met by a uniquely-designed program of study that includes courses from three academic disciplines. IDP students, working in conjunction with an IDP advisor, will plan a unique course of study that leads to a B.A. or B.S. degree. The course of study, or concentration, is conceptually related to, and directly addresses, a particular educational and/or career need. There are several concentrations from which a student may choose, including:


bulletAdministrative Sciences (B.S.)

bulletApplied Sciences (B.S.)

bulletApplied Arts (B.A.)

bulletCommunity Services (B.A.)

bulletHuman Services (B.A.)

bulletLiberal Studies (B.A.)

bulletProfessional Development (B.S.)



Student: Charles Higginbotham

You are invited to listen to Interdisciplinary Studies majors talk about their experience at USA. Join us!

Interdisciplinary Degree Program (IDP): Program Structure

ADP Program Structure

Foundation Course:   Each IDP student begins with an introductory course - IST 302 - to help clarify goals and to understand the nature of interdisciplinary studies.  This course requires junior standing and declared major in IST.


General Education:  All ADP degrees include a broad base of liberal arts courses in four general course areas:
                Area I - Written Composition - 2 courses
                Area II - Humanities, Fine Arts, Literature, and Oral Communication - 4 courses
                Area III - Laboratory Sciences and Mathematics - 3 courses
                Area IV - History, Social, and Behavioral Sciences - 4 courses


Department Requirements:  The Interdisciplinary Studies department requirements insure that graduates achieve critical thinking skills and a broad understanding of adult development and cultural diversity.  This set of courses is designed to prepare graduates to enter the modern work force which is increasingly technologically advanced, globally-oriented, and culturally diverse.  Competency is required in five areas, with one course in each area (15 hours total):

- Computer Applications
- Advanced/Professional Writing
- Statistical Applications
- Human Development
- Cultural Diversity


Concentration:  Each student collaborates with an IST Academic Advisor to design a focused program of study made up of related course work from at least three different disciplines.  A minimum of 48 hours in lower (100- to 200-level) and upper division (300- to 400-level) course work is required with at least four courses in each discipline.


Senior Research Thesis or Internship:  A sequence of two required courses assists ADP students with an in-depth research project or internship relating to their concentration. 

Interdisciplinary Degree Program: Concentrations

Each student collaborates with the Interdisciplinary Degree Program academic advisor to design a focused program of study made up of related course work form three different disciplines. A minimu of 48 hours in lower- (100- to 200-level) and upper-division (a minimum of 24 hours in 300- to 400-level) course work is required with at least four courses (12 hours) in each discipline.


Administrative Sciences: a field of study composed primarily of course work from business and related fields, such as communication, information technology, etc.


Applied Arts: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the fine arts and humanities, but might include scientific or technical course work as well.


Applied Sciences: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the sciences and technical disciplines.


Community Services: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the social sciences (especially political science and criminal justice), education, or health-related disciplines. Examples of an emphasis might be "Public Safety" or "EMS Administration."


Human Services: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the social sciences (especially psychology and sociology), education, or health-related disciplines.


Liberal Studies: a field of study composed primarily of course work from the humanities and social sciences to meet the unique demands of personal or professional growth.


Professional Development: a field of study composed of course work suited to the unique demands of a particular career path.



The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers a curriculum that allows students to attain personal/educational/ professional goals by integrating and synthesizing multiple disciplines.

To honor this intent and definition, curriculum choice will include no more than one discipline per department and at least two colleges/schools. In those cases wherein a student chooses two disciplines in one college, those disciplines must be distinct. For example, in the College of Education, students may choose an Education discipline and a Physical Education discipline. Prerequisite courses from outside of a department’s discipline that are within the same College may be counted as supporting courses, but may not be counted in that discipline.


An exception to the two college guideline is that students may choose three separate and varied disciplines within the College of Arts and Sciences. Under rare circumstances, other considerations may be offered but must be approved by the Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Dean of the School of Continuing Education and Special Programs.


Interdisciplinary Degree Program: Course Offerings

Class Schedules for Upcoming Terms:

Class Schedules for Current or Past Terms:

Course Descriptions:

To view the entire USA class schedule via PAWS, click the PAWS icon:

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Exemplar Award

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of South Alabama bestows the Exemplar Award to a graduating senior in the Interdisciplinary Degree Program who most exemplifies the goals and mission of the department.  Students can apply or be nominated.  To qualify, students must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership, or significant contribution on the USA campus or in the greater community. The winners are recognized at the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduation/Awards Luncheon in Fall and Spring semesters.

Applications are due at the beginning of April for Spring semester and at the beginning of November for fall semester.

Fall 2008
IDP Exemplar Award recipient Lauren Robbins (right) with Dr. Thomas Wells, Dean (retired).

Spring 2009
Sam Barksdale (right) receives the IDP Exemplar Award from Dr. Betty Wilkinson, IDP Program Director (retired).

Fall 2009
IDP Exemplar Award recipient Shannika Williams.
Spring 2010
Teresa Bendlova (right) receives the IDP Exemplar Award from Dr. Betty Wilkinson, IDP Program Director (retired).

Spring 2011
Christian Blanchett (right) receives the IDP Exemplar Award from Dr. Jenny Manders, IST Department Chair.

Fall 2011
- IDP Exemplar Award recipient Callie LeCroy.

Spring 2012
IDP Exemplar Award recipient Lea Thurm (right) with Dr. Jenny Manders, IST Department Chair

Interdisciplinary Degree Program: Frequently Asked Questions

bulletWhat is the Interdisciplinary Degree Program?
A: The Interdisciplinary Degree Program (IDP) at the University of South Alabama (USA) has been designed by the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies (IST) to give traditional students a variety of options in earning a bachelor’s degree tailored to their individual educational goals.

bullet Who is eligible for the Interdisciplinary Degree Program?
A: A student who satisfies general University of South Alabama admission requirements and is 18 to 24 years of age.

bullet What does “interdisciplinary” mean?
A: Interdisciplinary Studies is the oldest degree in the world, dating back to Plato and Aristotle. It is consistently ranked as one of the most popular degrees in universities across the United States at the undergraduate, master/s and doctoral levels. “Interdisciplinary” means that students take courses related to their professional goals from three academic departments or disciplines, which broadens their perspective. Based on their selected disciplines, students earn either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, with a concentration in Administrative Sciences (B.S.), Applied Sciences (B.S.), Professional Development (B.S.), Applied Arts (B.A.), Community Services (B.A.), Human Services (B.A.), or Liberal Studies (B.A.). Advisors work closely with students to choose the disciplines and concentration that best suit their individual interests and goals.

bullet How is the Interdisciplinary Studies (IST) degree different from other degrees offered at USA or other colleges?
A: Most degree programs are very structured, outlining in detail degree requirements.  The IST degree allows students more flexibility because they actually design a large portion of their degree (about 54 semester hours) through a concentration.


bullet Other colleges advertise that their degree can be completed in 2 years and I will only have to go 1 or 2 nights a week.   Can I do this with the IST degree?
A: Colleges which advertise degree completion in 2 years may offer “fast track” or intersive course formats, which means that class time is compressed into a shorter period of time – five weeks for a course, as opposed to 15 weeks required for a semester at USA.  The IST degree is not a “fast track” program, and students take the majority of their courses from the regular course offerings at USA.  Fast track programs are usually limited in the types of degree that can be completed and such programs usually include the provision that students have already completed at least half of their degree requirements. The IST degree program offers more options through the concentration because students can choose courses from the more than 30 academic departments at USA. The IST degree program also takes into consideration transfer college credit.

bullet Can the IST degree be completed by attending only evenings and weekends?
A: Yes.  Due to the flexibility of designing a large portion of their degree, IST students are usually able to complete their entire degree by attending only evening and weekend classes.  However, there are some academic departments at USA which offer few, if any, courses at these times. IST students may be restricted in completing disciplines in these academic areas.   However, the IST academic advisor works closely with all IST students directing them to the courses that are available at the times that they can schedule them so htat they will not be delayed in completing their degree.

bullet I have completed an associate degree.  Will that credit count towards the IST degree?
A: Academic credit from most community colleges will transfer to USA and apply toward the IST degree. USA and most senior universities do not accept vocational/technical courses, due to the fact that these programs are usually not included in their curriculum.  Only academic credit for the same or similar courses offered at USA can be transferred.  Also, most courses taken at private vocational/technical colleges will not transfer due to the lack of required accreditation. The Offices of Admission and Registrar have the final word on transfer credit accepted at USA.

bullet What is a student’s “major” in the Interdisciplinary Degree Program?
A: A student’s major will be listed as Interdisciplinary Studies (IST). The Interdisciplinary Degree Program includes the general education requirements specified for all students at USA as well as a focused concentration which includes related courses chosen from at least three different disciplines. These choices are made in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Degree Program academic advisor. The capstone of the IDP degree is an in-depth senior internship.


bullet What can students do with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies?
A: A degree in Interdisciplinary Studies prepares a student for a wide variety of academic or professional options, including graduate school or careers in fields which include, but are not limited to, business, human/social services, technology, and public health. Graduates are working in fields as diverse as directing or employment with nonprofit and social service organizations, business ownership, public administration, events planning, sports management, public relations, web design, computer sciences, and human resources.

bullet How does a student get started in the Interdisciplinary Degree Program (IDP)?
A: All prospective students are encouraged to meet with the IDP advisor before enrolling in the program to determine if their educational goals can best be met through an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree. To schedule an appointment with an academic advisor, call (251) 460-6263.