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Undergraduate Catalog 2011

Interdisciplinary Studies


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Patricia La Noue

Interdisciplinary Studies Committee

David M. Eisenmann
Ian M. George
Brian K. Grodsky
Robin Majeski
Stanley McCray
Antonio R. Moreira
Timothy Oates
Joshua Okundaye
Patricia Scully
Frederic Worden

Assistant Director

Steven McAlpine

Program Advisor

Carrie Sauter
Lisa Vetter

Administrative Assistant

Janet Goetz

Courses in this program are listed under INDS.

Interdisciplinary Studies welcomes students with diverse academic interests to explore the possibilities of bridging disciplines, widening perspectives, discovering connections and integrating knowledge. Interdisciplinary Studies is an innovative way for students to combine different fields of study into one unique major that does not duplicate a course of study currently offered by an existing academic department or program at UMBC.

Since 1969, Interdisciplinary Studies at UMBC has provided students the opportunity to complete a Bachelor's degree by designing a course of study compatible with their specific educational and career goals. Individually designed majors are ideal for students who wish to be engaged in a collaborative academic environment and work closely with faculty and staff. Degree proposals must be developed with faculty guidance, facilitated and supported by the Interdisciplinary Studies advisors, and approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee (ISC). The ISC is composed of faculty members from a variety of disciplines along with the Interdisciplinary Studies staff and two student representatives and is charged with approving Interdisciplinary Studies policy as well as ensuring the academic integrity of each self-designed degree proposal for status as a major.

Students are encouraged to declare Interdisciplinary Studies as a major in their freshman or sophomore year. The earlier students get involved with Interdisciplinary Studies, the more opportunities there are to explore ideas, share in Interdisciplinary Studies events and receive developmental advising as they examine their options.

Students must have at least 60 credits but fewer than 90 and have a minimum 2.5 overall GPA to submit a degree proposal. Each proposal must be endorsed in writing by faculty advisors and approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies advisor before it can be submitted to the ISC.

Sample Interdisciplinary Studies Majors

Arabic and Middle Eastern Cultural Studies

Artificial Intelligence

Arts Management



Community Health

Criminal Justice


Educational Policy

Energy Management

Engineering Education

Evolution and Literary Theory

Human Computer Interaction

Integrative Health Care

International and Global Studies

International Security and Counter-Terrorism

Judaic Studies

Medieval Linguistics

Music Entrepreneurship

Music and World Culture



Religious Studies and Counseling

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Inclusion

Science Writing

Scientific Visualization

Social Entrepreneurship

Spatial Aspects of Emergency and Disaster Response

Studies in Medical Illustration

Sustainable Development

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Career and Academic Paths

Interdisciplinary Studies graduates are prepared to enter professional careers or pursue advanced training. Degree proposals are designed with an eye toward preparing students for their stated career goals. Recent graduates have embarked on careers with international aid organizations, the media, arts, environmental organizations, computer firms, allied health organizations, and government agencies. Others have pursued advanced training and completed doctorates in various disciplines. Interdisciplinary Studies alumni also include graduates of professional schools, including medical, divinity and law.

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Core Curriculum

Students are required to complete INDS 330 Ways of Knowing, INDS 430 Interdisciplinary Studies Seminar, INDS 480 Capstone Project Seminar, and INDS 490 Capstone Project. The capstone project, supervised by faculty advisors, must be completed in the senior year. The project may consist of a research paper, a video, an artistic endeavor exhibiting the culmination of a specific area of study or other work approved by the faculty advisors and the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee. Internships and independent studies are encouraged. Students arrange their own internships under the guidance of Interdisciplinary Studies advisors or with the Shriver Center and enroll in INDS 410 Internship. Interdisciplinary Studies majors have completed internships in such areas as law enforcement, business, government, health care, education, and the environment. Students are also encouraged to seek additional research opportunities and, in some cases, may receive credit for INDS 400 Independent Study.

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Types of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree Proposals

Type A proposals have an identifiable theme of concentration. Students develop a thematic area of concentration that integrates several disciplines with a maximum of 21 credits in one discipline. Type B proposals draw from two or three distinct disciplinary or professional concentrations and provide a rationale for the integration of these disciplines or fields. Instead of a thematic concentration, students complete a minimum of 18 credits in courses at the 200 level or higher in each of two disciplines, or 15 credits relevant to their learning objectives in each of three disciplines. Students will demonstrate integration of their disciplines in the Capstone Project.

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Interdisciplinary Studies Degree Design Process

Students are invited to the Interdisciplinary Studies office, Fine Arts 543, to meet with an academic advisor, or by contacting the program at The program's website,, is a great resource to download proposal forms, read sample learning objectives, and learn about our alumni. Developmental advising is comprehensive in Interdisciplinary Studies, and many students are guided to design an Interdisciplinary Studies major along with another major, minor or certificate. Interdisciplinary Studies advisors are available to discuss academic programs, course selection, internships, independent study, study abroad options and other areas of academic interest. Following the initial advising meeting, students will continue exploring options with their Interdisciplinary Studies advisor who will guide them through the proposal development process. In addition to working with an INDS advisor, students will obtain two faculty advisors from two disciplines strongly represented in their degree proposal. One of the advisors must have full-time faculty status at UMBC.

Students may complete requirements for either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. The proposed degree plan must consist of at least 42 credits of standard university course work at the 200 level and above; the majority of courses must be at the 300 and 400 levels. 100 level courses, although necessary prerequisites, are not counted towards the major. A maximum of 12 transfer credits from another institution may be included. A grade of “C” or better must be earned for each course listed on the proposed degree plan. The grade of “pass” is acceptable if a course is offered only on a P/F basis. All university degree requirements, including the general education and upper-level course requirements, will be reviewed with the Interdisciplinary Studies advisor while completing the degree proposal form before it is submitted to the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee. Proposal forms are available in the Interdisciplinary Studies office and on the program's web site,

Any change in an approved degree plan must be requested in writing, approved by the student’s faculty advisors, the Interdisciplinary Studies advisor and the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies. Titles of individually designed majors are included on the final transcript (e.g., Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Biomedical Ethics).

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Departmental Honors

To graduate with Interdisciplinary Studies Honors, students must have a minimum 3.5 overall GPA and are required to take honors courses including INDS 330H Ways of Knowing or INDS 430H Interdisciplinary Studies Seminar, and INDS 490H Capstone Project Honors.

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Student Organizations

The Interdisciplinary Studies Council of Majors is open to students interested in an interdisciplinary approach to education. The council, which meets on the first and third Mondays of each month, sponsors service, social and educational events throughout the year and provides an informal student network among Interdisciplinary Studies majors.

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