Interdisciplinary Studies Program Replaces General Studies

September 8th, 2022

To better suit the needs of University of Arizona students and reflect the skills and education it offers, the General Studies Program is changing its name to the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, starting this semester. 


The change is made following input from students and alumni, who recommended the name Interdisciplinary Studies as a more accurate description of the program and its distinct areas of emphasis, which center on thematic combinations of courses, said Faculty Director Caleb Simmons.


We found that many students loved the degree program and its flexibility,” Simmons said. “However, they believed the greatest weakness was the name ‘General Studies’ because could be perceived negatively by potential employers. ‘Interdisciplinary Studies’ better represents the nature of the program and better reflects our graduates’ skills to potential employers.”


The Interdisciplinary Studies Program will retain the structure and the broad flexibility of General Studies, and current students have the option to finish their General Studies degree, with no change to their requirements, or transition to Interdisciplinary Studies.


The areas of emphasis remain the same:

  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment
  • Economy and Industry
  • Global and Intercultural Understanding
  • Science, Technology, Health, and Society
  • Social Behavior and Human Understanding
  • Sports and Society

“These emphases are designed to fit students’ needs and encourage them to pursue an area that aligns with their passions,” said Simmons, Associate Professor of Religious Studies. “For some, a broader course of study can be a better fit than a traditional major/minor. The Interdisciplinary Studies degree prepares students to think critically and analytically across a wide range of disciplines that is reflective of the grand challenges facing the world today.   


The name change is part of ongoing efforts to improve the program and outcomes for students. IDS has also added more than 130 courses to the program, including several in popular emphases like Economy and Industry; Science, Technology, Health, and Society; and Sports and Society.


Incoming IDS students, and those current students who elect to switch to the new program, will be required to take the newly created IDS 396A: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies in their first semester as an IDS student. The three-unit course introduces students to the unique degree program and how to build toward their desired career.


An additional change is designed to aid students transferring to the University from community colleges. Transfer students can now transfer up to 75 credits into the IDS program, an increase from 64.


The change will make a college degree more accessible to students with diverse career paths, said Victoria Meyer, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Near You Network.


The Interdisciplinary Studies Program is popular among both online and distance students. IDS is offered through the Near You Network at locations in Chandler, Nogales and Douglas. Additionally, about half of the students in the IDS program are earning their degrees online. This popularity reflects the real-world relevancy of the degree program and a commitment to removing barriers for any student pursuing an education.