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About IDS

What is Interdisciplinary Studies?

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) is a unique degree program under the auspices of the Office of Academic Affairs. It is an interdisciplinary program intended to provide versatility for students seeking to design academic plans through the process of integrative learning. IDS focuses on students who desire the flexibility of a curriculum designed to balance work and life responsibilities with educational opportunities. IDS allows students to develop a learning experience that helps meet individual and professional goals.

Is this degree similar to General Studies?

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (established in 2008) evolved from the long-standing Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program established at UNO in 1975. For almost every college student "general studies" are part of going to college. Most students also specialize in a single subject. However, as an alternate path, a student may decide not to concentrate in one subject, but rather to diversify. At many universities, degree programs in general studies or interdisciplinary studies have been created to serve students who want something other than a traditional major. The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) is a interdisciplinary degree intended to provide versatility for students seeking an integrative learning experience.

What is meant by integrative learning?

Integrative learning refers to the process of combining and coordinating academic elements into a whole or aggregate. Working closely with IDS advisors, IDS students develop 36-credit hour integrative learning plans (ILP). Each ILP incorporates a minimum of two subject areas that clearly represent a focus for studies. ILP concentrations include Behavioral Studies, Business in Urban Society, Community and Leadership Development, Cultural and Environmental Studies, Education in Urban Society, and Public Health. See our integrative learning plans.

How long will it take to complete an IDS degree?

The time needed to complete an IDS degree depends on whether a student is starting as a new, incoming freshman or applying prior college transfer credit. The minimum total required for degree completion is 120 creditable hours. Coursework leading to the completion of an IDS degree includes 39 credit hours designed to satisfy the University’s general degree requirements in English, literature, mathematics, natural sciences, art, humanities and social sciences. Students design the remainder of their programs around 36-hour integrative learning plans (ILP) that encompass students’ unique personal or career interests. Additional components of the program include a three-credit Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies and a three-credit Capstone experience. The remaining hours include electives or prerequisite course work to support ILP development or other interests. Successful degree completion requires a minimum of 45 credit hours of upper-division (junior/senior) coursework.

Why IDS?

A recent study of IDS students indicated various reasons for pursuit of a non-traditional degree. Many have coursework from previous enrollments at UNO or other colleges, and seek a flexible degree completion opportunity. Some students pursue the degree to increase their chances for advancement in their jobs. Nearly 90 % of current IDS students are employed and over 50 % plan to stay with their current employer after graduation. Others want to develop a program which will help them change careers. Over 60 % of respondents indicated plans to continue in post-baccalaureate certification or graduate studies. Others want a degree to experience the satisfaction of completing their personal and educational goals. Regardless of motivation, these students are not looking for an "easy way out." They are prepared and motivated to turn a career or personal goal into a degree.

What can I do with an IDS degree?

One answer to this question is, “Basically the same thing you would do with any other degree!” Another is that the answer lies within your interests, wishes and plans for your future. All degree programs should provide you with the opportunity to obtain and demonstrate four very important skill sets: analytical and critical thinking skills; written and verbal communication skills; the demonstrated ability to set and reach academic and professional goals; and perhaps the most important skill of all, the ability to continue learning and cope with change. The IDS program is different only in the interdisciplinary nature of your plan. Many of our 140+ graduates each year are employed in business, industry, government agencies, or operate their own small businesses. Many others have entered advanced academic programs in allied health, law, business administration, urban studies, education, counseling, social work, and many other fields of study.

It’s not about the degree; it’s about the qualities it takes to get one. It requires discipline, commitment, and the ability to set goals and achieve them. In every degree, there’s a lot of good old-fashioned education. That’s what it’s about.
Times-Picayune Employment Section
Sunday, March 17, 2002