Danae Romrell, dean of Interdisciplinary Studies, with a group of MATH 282 students

Interdisciplinary Studies is in its sixth year as a degree option to students at BYU-Idaho. Since its inception, the degree has grown into what it is today: a customizable degree for students who have a very specific career in mind. The Interdisciplinary Studies degree allows for a “customizable experience,” said Danae Romrell, dean of Interdisciplinary Studies.

To aid students in that customization, Interdisciplinary Studies faculty are proposing two new courses: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies and Interdisciplinary Innovation. These courses will make the degree more challenging and rewarding and will better prepare students for their future careers. If these courses are approved, they will focus on teaching students how to combine two different academic disciplines together.

The Interdisciplinary Studies Council aims to work with other departments on campus in retention efforts to identify students who struggle to find the right major and make them aware of the option of Interdisciplinary Studies.

“Instead of studying just one area, they can study an area plus other complementary skills to prepare them for a particular career,” Romrell said.

Interdisciplinary Studies students choose a concentration and either a minor or two certificates/clusters. Those are the courses that make up their required major courses.

In President Henry J. Eyring’s April 2018 devotional address he encouraged students to gain a greater understanding in a field to complement their major studies.

“[T]hink about a college education that includes a combination of so-called “hard” and “soft” skills.  Ideally, one component of your degree—either a major, a minor, or a certificate—will be directly related to a career you find attractive.”

For some students, an Interdisciplinary Studies degree could be just that; creating future college graduates who are marketable to future employers by developing a variety of very specific “hard” and “soft” skill sets.

“Interdisciplinary Studies can be a great fit for some students who are feeling a little lost when trying to find a major,” Romrell said.

The Interdisciplinary Studies faculty hope for Interdisciplinary Studies to be a viable option for motivated students with a specific career goal in mind, if they find that the degree is the right fit for them.

“Interdisciplinary Studies is by application only. Students have to fill out an application explaining which pieces they are putting together and what career the degree would be preparing them for. We make sure to have that as the focus of the degree from the very beginning,” Romrell said.

The deans can understand what kind of student this degree is benefitting by reading what students say in their applications.

“Students who typically apply for this degree are often ones who say, ‘I was trying to find a way to be able to do this as my career, and I couldn’t find a major that really worked. Interdisciplinary Studies is helping me best prepare for what I want to do,’” Romrell said. “The appeal we want Interdisciplinary Studies to be for students, is to allow them to diversify and gain experience from multiple areas. We want to find the right students who Interdisciplinary Studies is going to better prepare them for their career.