Distance Learning College Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies

Find out about online interdisciplinary studies courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

There is no standard curriculum for interdisciplinary studies programs; students have a broad amount of freedom in their class choices and often design their own degrees. At the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels, these online programs are designed to allow students to create a course of study that fits their unique career goals. Many programs in interdisciplinary studies can be completed totally online, but some require oral exams and internships. Prospective master's degree students must have a bachelor's degree to be eligible for admission, and sometimes require a 7-10 day orientation and/or annual visit to campus.

Online programs are designed for students who may not be able to enroll in traditional classes, due to work or other obligations. Although such programs generally allow students to work at their own pace, assignments and exams must be completed within a specified time frame.


In an online interdisciplinary studies program, units are divided between core courses in upper division work and general education units. Electives may be taken in areas that match the student's interest, and in some programs, students pick multiple concentrations to pursue. Students may need to complete an introductory class addressing the applications of cross-disciplinary studies. A capstone course is also commonly required towards the end of the program. Although distance-learning programs offer some pacing flexibility, bachelor's degrees are generally 120 credit hours in length and take four years to complete; associate's degrees take about half as long.

Course Topics

Fields of study often available in these programs include the following:

  • Management
  • Computer programming
  • Health
  • Education
  • Literature
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Social sciences
  • Economics


Graduate programs are often offered through a distance-learning cohort model, which groups students according to area of concentration. This leads to the formation of academic communities through sustained in-person and online communication. Many programs will mandate that students be present for an orientation session lasting from 7-10 days, followed by annual visits to the college campus. All subsequent coursework is completed through online interfaces, video conferencing and e-mail.

A master's degree program, which usually takes about two years of full-time study, may offer either a thesis or non-thesis option. In the latter track, students could opt to complete an internship or other project as their culminating experience. A Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, which is rarely available totally online, takes 3-7 years to complete and concludes with a dissertation.

Career Information

Those with college degrees in interdisciplinary studies are qualified for a variety of entry-level jobs, which do not require coursework or skills in a specific discipline; industries where it is relevant to incorporate many perspectives and areas of study are particularly popular for employment. Some examples are the fields of human services, education, healthcare, business and information technology. Interdisciplinary degrees are also often used as a foundation for further research, training or academic pursuits.

Due to the individualization and, therefore, the vast differences in interdisciplinary studies programs, there is no standardized curriculum for them. But many programs are available online at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree level, although the master's program may require some time on campus for orientation or other required trips.

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