Interdisciplinary studies degree moves under Honors College

The interdisciplinary studies degree allows students to combine areas of study to accommodate for their specific needs and areas of interest. The degree will be available under the Honors College instead of University College starting March 15.

Students wanting to declare a major in interdisciplinary studies will now need to meet Honors College requirements.

The interdisciplinary studies degree is moving from the University College to the Honors College and becoming an honors degree, effective March 15.

New students will need to meet the Honors College standards, such as GPA or high-school placement requirements, said Kevin Gustafson, Honors College interim dean. They will also need to complete a senior project related to their degree and complete honors college coursework to graduate.

Students currently majoring in the degree will be grandfathered in and will not need to meet the new requirements to graduate, he said. Students who do meet the criteria can graduate with an honors degree.

Because the degree will be granted through the Honors College, the students will have access to the benefits it allows, such as early registration, free printing and scholarship opportunities, he said.

Teik Lim, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the decision to rehouse the degree was to represent it better.

The move will also help promote the Honors College, he said, which he describes as UTA’s “hidden gem.”

University College also houses the university studies degree, and Lim said the two degrees often get confused for each other, despite being distinct.

University studies is a completion degree, designed to allow students to finish a degree and utilize the credits they’ve already earned, he said. Typically, the university studies degree is for students who want to graduate the quickest route possible or have returned after a period of absence from education, but the interdisciplinary studies degree is different.

“Interdisciplinary studies is a degree for really high achieving students who come to UTA and say, ‘I don’t like any of the degrees that you have here, I want to create my own,” he said.

The degree plan typically consists of combining areas of focus within a two or three-track model. Usually, the areas are based on degree minors, but custom tracks can be created for specific needs or interests, interdisciplinary studies advisor Rebekah Chojnacki said.

Students can combine passions to create a custom experience, she said. Some students are also interested in creating degrees, but their areas of interest are only offered as minors.

Chojnacki said she guides students but they “choose their own adventure,” to make the degree plan their own.

The degree is all about finding connections, she said. It’s not putting random things together but finding where topics interact.

A typical advising session begins by Chojnacki asking what the student’s end goal is and working backward, creating a hybrid degree plan customized for their passions and needs.

Interdisciplinary studies junior Sharon Perez chose the degree because she has a specific career in mind as a cultural mediator.

“I want to build bridges between cultures,” she said.

However, she said none of the other degrees UTA offers genuinely fit her chosen career path. She decided to pursue interdisciplinary studies and created her degree plan with four minors: diversity studies, disability studies, linguistics and leadership studies.

“I have very specific things I want to work at, and that’s why I needed to do interdisciplinary studies versus, say, sociology,” Perez said.

She said her degree plan matches her career goals better than any other degree at UTA could.

“Interdisciplinary studies has challenged me already and has pushed me to be aware that I have to look at every perspective,” she said.

Interdisciplinary studies senior Chloe Lewis decided to major in the degree to combine her passions for theater and public relations.

She chose interdisciplinary studies instead of double majoring so she could take only courses relevant to her interests. Although aspects of theater help her public speaking and public relations skills, she wanted to forgo some of the classes that didn’t relate as much.

“My two passions were able to combine together, and [I] created my own degree to be marketable in the real world,” she said.

@reeseoxner

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

Managing Editor

Reese Oxner is The Shorthorn managing editor.

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