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Interdisciplinary Studies Degrees

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies coordinates and fosters cross-disciplinary connections across all disciplines to help students realize their academic, personal, and professional aspirations.  For those students who wish to design their own course of study, the department offers the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (B.I.S.), an interdisciplinary degree that provides a flexible course of study with a strong foundation in the liberal arts. Because students are required to  demonstrate depth in an academic  area and to take courses in oral and written communication and the humanities, the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies provides an interdisciplinary emphasis that prepares students for entry into postgraduate studies and the professional world with a new global focus. Additionally, the department offers a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership, an online degree coordinated through a consortium of universities in the University of Louisiana System. The department also cultivates greater opportunities for service learning and leadership initiatives across all disciplines and coordinates campus-wide development of interdisciplinary minors and activities available to all majors.

INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES: MYTHS AND TRUTHS

There are several myths about Interdisciplinary Studies degrees. One is that switching to an Interdisciplinary Studies curriculum from another major will somehow allow a student to graduate earlier. This is not necessarily true. As with any other curriculum switch, a student may lose or gain hours with each change. The outcome of a switch depends on several factors such as the time in a student’s career when the switch is made.

What all of this is saying is that an Interdisciplinary Studies degree is a degree all to its own, with certain strengths and weaknesses just like other degrees. For many students, understanding a degree’s strength is as simple as understanding a chosen field. You know that after you graduate in accounting, accounting is your chosen field. You leave college assuming that the world of work and the professions will assume that your training is in accounting. Thus, there is a strength — a presumption that you are an “accounting person.” But there is also a weakness — the presumption that all you know is accounting.

So it is with Interdisciplinary Studies. There are weaknesses with the degree and strengths, especially when others are interpreting what you supposedly know.

However, it is true that Interdisciplinary Studies students, as a rule, are at a bit of a disadvantage from the start because they have no obvious major field of study, no “major name.” A Interdisciplinary Studies student must be ready for the question, “Just what is your degree in, anyway?”

How is an Interdisciplinary Studies student to answer this question?

More than any other student, a Interdisciplinary Studies student must give consideration to the degree itself, must be ready to explain the strengths and the concentration of knowledge to the outside world. This preparation is best done with a thorough understanding of what you’ve studied for four or five years. While the Interdisciplinary Studies “capstone” course IDST 410 is designed to help you understand your degree and to prepare for the world that awaits you after college, there are a few things you should think about before taking that course.

First, let’s look at what you’ve been studying in order to see where your strengths lie.

Knowledge You Have as B.I.S. Graduates:

  • General Education University requirements
    • Fine Arts (3 hours)
    • English (12 hours) writing, research, upper-level writing, literature
    • History (3 hours)
    • Math (6 hours)
    • Natural Sciences (9 hours) physical and biological
    • Social Sciences (6 hours) sociology, psychology, government, geography, economics
    • Freshman Studies (1 hour)
    • Computer Literacy (2 hours)
    • Oral Communication (3 hours)
  • Interdisciplinary Studies requirements
    • Intercultural studies humanities elective (3 hours)
    • Humanities (9 hours): humanities, philosophy, speech above 101, history, literature, fine arts, foreign language
    • IDST 410 Senior Capstone (3 hours)
    • Demonstration of educational depth in an area with at least an overall C average. This depth is most easily demonstrated by way of an academic minor of at least 18 hours, 9 hours of which are at the 300-level or above. For graduation purposes, this academic depth must be approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies department head.

After taking a close look at your studies, you can see that you have “majored” in a general university education. You have also chosen to concentrate in a certain field to the extent that you have a minor or have demonstrated educational depth in that field.  What you may not realize is that your “general university major” has another name at other schools. At many universities, students can major in an area called “Liberal Arts.” A Liberal Arts major is someone who can be presumed to have liberal arts as a field of study.

After leaving a university, liberal arts majors are ready to find jobs where communication and problem-solving skills are needed. They are ready to find jobs where employers are looking for all-around “university thinkers.”

Let’s take a closer look at what a Liberal Arts major is.

Definition of Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts: studies in the humanities, mathematics, and the social and natural sciences as distinct from professional or technical subjects.

Not only is there a dictionary definition of liberal arts, there is also a website designed by people who think that a strong liberal arts degree is the very essence of a valuable college education. The influence of this kind of thinking is found at most universities because all students are required to take “core courses” in liberal arts in order to graduate. All students at Nicholls do just that. All students are required to take “General Education” courses. These courses are based in the liberal arts.

It might be said that a Interdisciplinary Studies graduate has majored in an overall university education based on the liberal arts curriculum.

Those of you who are interested should click on the website below and visit the national liberal arts site for the organization known as The American Academy for Liberal Education. The words found there will help Interdisciplinary Studies students explain the strengths of their degree.

www.aale.org

The pages that follow are taken from this website. Take a look at what is being said. Your liberal arts degree comes with skills that many employers are looking for.

From “What Good is a Liberal Education? The AALE’s (The American Academy for Liberal Education) New Assessment Model”

The Academy’s Mission, General Education and Curriculum, and Teaching and Educational Resources standards seek to ensure that accredited institutions provide their students with the educational means and opportunities essential for developing the characteristics of a liberally educated person. The Academy’s unique Liberal Learning Assessment standards invite institutions to reflect and report on the ways their educational programs actually foster the growth and flourishing of such characteristics in their students. Chief among these characteristics are the ability to reason and communicate effectively, possession of a certain breadth and depth of knowledge, and a love of learning.

The Academy’s Liberal Learning Assessment standards do not prescribe specific methods or instruments for assessing student learning. They seek, instead, to identify certain key characteristics of intellectual and personal achievement in liberal learning – Effective Reasoning, Broad and Deep Learning, and the Inclination to Inquire – and then to suggest some clear indicators or criteria of achievement. These characteristics, along with their associated indicators and criteria, should be recognizable across a broad spectrum of liberal education models.

Standard One – Effective Reasoning

An education in the liberal arts always seeks to develop students’ abilities to recognize and to think clearly about important issues and questions. The ability to reason effectively includes certain foundational skills or abilities (e.g., fluency in reading, writing, and oral communication, mastery of the basic principles of logical, mathematical, and scientific reasoning), as well as higher-order capacities for formulating, analyzing, integrating, and applying arguments and information.

Standard Two – Broad and Deep Learning

A liberally educated person should possess a rich fund of meaningful knowledge, as well as the ability to compare and integrate new or different areas of knowledge in fruitful ways. An institution’s general education curriculum should impart a broad foundational knowledge of the various liberal arts and sciences. Students should also experience the depth of learning that comes from a sustained, progressive exploration of the distinct modes of inquiry belonging to one or more of the major disciplines. Through such studies or their equivalents, students acquire the ability to relate disparate parts of the curriculum to one another, as well as to integrate knowledge gained across different fields of study.

Standard Three – The Inclination to Inquire

An education in the liberal arts and sciences is more than the mere accumulation of knowledge and skills. It fosters and encourages the student’s desire for seeking out and acquiring important knowledge and skills, both for their own sake and for the good they contribute to our common and individual lives. For this reason, a disposition for asking incisive and insightful questions and for pursuing enriching and useful skills is perhaps the surest sign of a liberally educated mind.

Effective Reasoning:

The student should demonstrate:

  • the foundational abilities of effective reasoning; fluency in reading, writing, and oral communication; basic principles of logical, mathematical and scientific reasoning
  • the ability to frame reasonable arguments, support them with relevant evidence, analyze arguments rationally and anticipate likely counter-arguments
  • the ability to recognize, evaluate, and integrate new information into existing frameworks of knowledge; and adapt those frameworks as necessary
  • the ability to engage in reasoned and sustained discussions of important issues or questions; and to elucidate orally and in writing different or opposing perspectives

Broad and Deep Learning:

The student should show:

  • a rich fund of meaningful knowledge
  • a familiarity with essential knowledge; principles and methods of various disciplines
  • a thorough grasp of basic knowledge, principles, and methods of one of the major disciplines
  • the ability to relate disparate areas or disciplines of the arts and sciences to one another
  • a general grasp of the principles, history, and workings of liberal and democratic institutions; proven ability to take up responsibilities and privileges of liberal and democratic citizenship
  • an ability to discuss salient issues of Western history, and a habit of bringing relevant knowledge of past thought and events to bear on contemporary questions
  • an appreciation for the political and cultural; history of at least one non-Western culture
  • the ability to communicate effectively in a foreign language
  • an acquaintance with scientific and technological knowledge and development, and a basic understanding of their ethical/philosophical implications.

The Inclination to Inquire

The student should demonstrate:

  • a disposition to ask incisive and insightful questions and for pursuing enriching and useful knowledge and skills
  • the development of a reflective and inquisitive turn of mind, one that actively weighs the judgments put to it; the ability to bring to bear the knowledge and skills acquired in academic pursuits to important issues; development of a personally significant and continually examined perspective on answers to the questions, “What is the good life?” “What is the common good?” and “What is the best social order?”

Resume Writing

Resumes generally stress a person’s education in light of specific skills and areas of intense study. The skills for Interdisciplinary Studies students are those skills listed by the The American Academy for Liberal Education. Students who stress these skills on their resumes will find that employers are always looking for “liberal arts people.” Sometimes, students might have to show employers the proper way to interpret a liberal- arts-based resume. But that’s the purpose of all resumes: It’s the students’ responsibility to show that they are ready to put communication and problem-solving skills to work.

DEGREES AWARDED

The university awards three degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies: the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership, and the Associate of General Studies. Students seeking to earn either degree must complete all University College requirements and satisfy the minimum requirements of the university and the specific requirements for the degree.

Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program allows students to create an interdisciplinary course of study across academic disciplines and professional fields with the following requirements:

  • A formalized plan of study approved by a departmental advisor.
  • A maximum of 6 semester hours in HPED activity courses. No more than 6 hours of performance music courses may be applied toward the BIS degree (except for those students completing an approved music minor).
  • A maximum of 30 semester hours of credit toward the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree taken within the College of Business Administration (excluding 3 hours of economics which may be counted as General Education).
  • A minimum of 60 hours at the 200-level or above.
  • At least 45 hours of courses numbered 300 or above,  9 of which must be at the 400-level.
  • Demonstration of educational depth in an academic area with at least an overall C average. This depth is most easily demonstrated by way of an academic minor of at least 18 hours, 9 hours of which are at the 300-level or above. For graduation purposes, this academic depth must be approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies department head.
  • Completion of IDST 410 with a grade of C or better.

Students must complete the last fifteen hours of the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree while registered in the Interdisciplinary Studies curriculum.

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Leadership

The Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership is ideally suited for non-traditional adult learners who have previously acquired significant college credit or for those adults who have graduated from community college with an associate degree.  The program is designed to:

(1) facilitate life-long learning goals of adult learners;

(2) provide an opportunity for adult learners to develop additional knowledge in the areas of leadership, organizational change, workplace development and performance;

(3) provide an opportunity for adult learners to develop further knowledge in a specific area of specialization;

(4) provide an avenue of higher education that meets the needs of adult learners for personal enrichment and/or professional advancement;

(5) provide adult learners with educational mobility options in a world where career changes are increasing;

(6) provide a relevant, flexible curriculum designed for working adult students that offers the potential to apply prior learning thorough course credit and work/life experiences to the degree plan; and

(7) contribute to the economic development goals of the state of Louisiana through providing a relevant degree option for working adults to earn a baccalaureate degree.

The Focus Area offered through Nicholls State University is Food Service Strategies and Operations.  The purpose of the BA in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Foodservice Operations is to increase Louisiana’s workforce in the areas of Foodservice Management (restaurants, long-term care, and other institutional foodservice arenas).  Nutrition principles are part of the curriculum and will help the graduates apply healthy menu planning and food preparation techniques in the food service industry or just in their personal lives. Culinary Arts and Dietetics courses will provide students with an understanding of foodservice principles and management.  Individuals will learn how to eat more well-balanced diets as well as ways to increase their physical fitness and overall health for themselves and their families.  Some of the electives also teach about the cuisine of the Cajun culture which adds to the continuation of the knowledge of our unique regional cuisine and heritage.

Students admitted to the program will already have completed all general education requirements.  They must have accumulated at least 60 semester credit hours prior to admission to this program.  The remaining 60 credit hours (essentially Years 3 and 4 of a four-year 120 credit hour curriculum) will consist of 30 semester credit hours in required Core courses in Organizational Leadership, 21 credit hours in the concentration area, and the remaining 9 credit hours in electives.

The program courses will be organized for an accelerated delivery via 5 8-week instructional terms (2 spring, 1 summer, 2 fall), thus allowing a student to accumulate 30 credit hours in an academic year. Students may take 6 credit hours within an 8-week term.

Minors

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers six minors in a variety of subject matters. Any baccalaureate degree seeking student is able to obtain a minor listed below upon graduation if specified course requirements are met.

Bayou Studies Minor

The university offers a minor in Bayou Studies after successful completion of 18 hours of courses that include content about local or regional history, literature, culture, language and geography. Nine hours must include IDST 201 (Bayou Region Field Eplorations) and ENGL 426 (Bayou Culture) as well as either ENGL 427 or HIST 371. The remaining nine hours can be chosen from the following list, with at least three of those hours coming from GEOG 375, SOCI 204, or SOCI 395:

BIOL 215: Pirogue Biology FREN 102: Elementary French II
CULA 401: Culinary History of the South GEOG 375: Geography of Louisiana
CULA 279: Cajun and Creole Cuisine HIST 371: Louisiana History
ENGL 326: Intro to Folklore HUMA 303: French Literature in Translation
ENGL 427: Louisiana Literature SOCI 204: Cultural Diversity of America
ENGL 490: Language and Culture SOCI 395: Racial and Cultural Minorities
FREN 101: Elementary French I

Students may substitute up to six hours of other special topics or themed courses that have a main focus or theme that addresses bayou studies or, more broadly, Louisiana. Approval of department head of Interdisciplinary Studies required for substitutions.

Computer Science (CMPS)

The university offers a minor in Computer Science upon the successful completion of CMPS 130, 135, 221, 312, 406, 410, and 418. A grade of C or better is required in each computer science course.

Foodservice Strategies and Operations Minor

The university offers a minor in Foodservice Strategies and Operations to prepare students for professions in the areas of Foodservice Management (restaurants, long-term care, and other institutional foodservice arenas). Nutrition principles are part of the curriculum and will help the graduates apply healthy menu planning and food preparation techniques in the foodservice industry or just in their personal lives. Culinary Arts and Dietetics courses will provide students with an understanding of foodservice principles and management. Individuals will learn how to eat more well-balanced diets as well as ways to increase their physical fitness and overall health for themselves and their families.

Students will earn the minor upon the successful completion of the following courses:

DIET 111 Food and Nutrition
DIET 200 Applied Nutrition
CULA 231 Food, Beverage, and Labor Cost Control
CULA 338 Foodservice Inventory Selection, Procurement, and Control
CULA 442 Menu Design, Integration, and Promotion
CULA 492 Special Topics in Culinary Operations

Humanities (HUMA)

The University offers a minor in the Humanities upon the successful completion of at least 18 hours above GENED requirements in the following curricula:

Fine Arts GOVT 355
History MACO 499
Humanities Foreign Languages
Literature Music (Non-performance courses)
Philosophy Speech (Non-performance courses)

The total hours in the humanities minor (18) must include courses in at least three areas of the humanities outside the student’s major with a minimum of 9 hours in courses numbered 300 or above. Three hours above degree requirements may be taken in the student’s major.

Internet Studies and Web Development (ISWD)

An innovative minor offered to students wishing to supplement their major with knowledge of the Internet while focusing on different areas including Web tools, webpage and online database creation, and other current topics. The minor consists of CMPS 125, CMPS 250, CMPS 340, CMPS 470 and 6 hours of 300-and400-level electives that address content and issues related to Internet Studies and Web Development. Preferably these 6 hours of electives will be in courses in the student’s major. These electives must be approved by the Head of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Social Sciences (SSCI)

The university offers a minor in the Social Sciences upon the successful completion of at least 18 hours above General Education requirements in the following curricula:

Economics Mass Communication
Family and Consumer Sciences Psychology
Geography Sociology
Government

The total hours in the social sciences minor (18) must include courses in at least three areas of the social sciences outside the student’s major with a minimum of 9 hours in courses numbered 300 or above. A maximum of 9 hours of travel-study courses in any of these curricula may be selected for the minor. Three hours above degree requirements may be taken in the student’s major.

Entry into the Major and the Associate of General Studies Degree

In support of University College’s commitment to serve the needs of exploratory students, the Associate of General Studies Degree has been designed to prepare students for entry into one of the many baccalaureate degree programs offered by the university. The AGS degree validates the importance of general education as a foundation for academic achievement in the selected baccalaureate degree and for future professional advancement. Students may be accepted into the A.G.S. degree program (GSAS major) before completing 61 hours of coursework. All GSAS majors are advised as though they are exploratory students.

The university awards the Associate of General Studies Degree to a student who, in addition to satisfying the university’s minimum requirements for graduation, meets the following requirements: No more than 2 semester hours of H&PE activity courses and no more than 6 hours of performance music courses may be applied toward the A.G.S. Degree. 6 hours of a two-course sequence in a physical or a biological science and 3 hours in a natural science area other than that selected for the sequence as specified in the GER Requirements for the Baccalaureate Degree.

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