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Interdisciplinary Studies

The Howard University Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) Department provides the University’s students with opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary study and to graduate in an Interdisciplinary Studies Major Concentration encompassing the contents of multiple traditional disciplines and the integration and interconnection of their knowledge, perspectives, and approaches.

Student with LaptopThe Programmatic Interdisciplinary Major Concentrations in Interdisciplinary Studies leads to a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and prepares students to engage personally and professionally with unique integrations of multiple traditional disciplines which together create novel and needed new preparation for tomorrow’s life and careers.

As part of Major Concentrations, students will be deeply involved in interdisciplinary learning across multiple disciplines and departments and may have the opportunity to complete an internship at a clinical, policy or research institution in the Washington, D.C. area.

Students graduating from an interdisciplinary Major Concentration will be better prepared for a variety of careers in areas from research, to policy making, academic leadership or careers still in their formative stages of development.

Interdisciplinary Studies are academic programs or processes seeking to synthesize broad perspectives, knowledge, skills, interconnections, and epistemology in an educational setting.

The Interdisciplinary Studies Major at Howard University may be pursued in two distinct ways:

1. B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Individualized Interdisciplinary Major (IIM) Concentration

In the IIM pathway, the individual student gathers a committee which helps the student create a more unique proposed interdisciplinary major program and a unique curriculum of coursework and experiences.

Contact the IDS Departmental Office to determine whether the IIM pathway is available at this time.

(Please check with the IDS Department to learn whether these are being offered currently)

The interested student may seek to join in order to study within that Major Concentration’s established interdisciplinary curriculum.Note that faculty members interested in proposing other IDS programmatic major concentrations may contact the IDS Departmental Office for details and for guidance in initiating new proposals.

These IDS Major Concentrations are listed and briefly described below and are detailed on their own home pages found through the links below.  Please investigate them closely if you think that you may be interested in one of these forefront career pathways.

Note that these major areas of concentration will be recognized on your student transcript and diploma as they are named below. 

Other Major Concentrations are under development (Religious Studies, Neurosciences, Computational Sciences, etc.).

Existing Programmatic Interdisciplinary Major Concentrations


The new interdisciplinary degree program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Bioethics prepares students to engage personally and professionally with some of the most challenging moral questions in medicine, clinical research, biotechnology and the life sciences.  The program is offered by the College of Arts and Sciences with participation by faculty from the College of Medicine, the School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, and the Law School. Students graduating from the Bioethics program will be prepared for careers in clinical research, regulatory affairs, education and policy making as well as to pursue a traditional graduate degree in their field of interest.

Community Development

Community development majors study human and economic development activities in disadvantaged areas.  Community-based non-profit groups lead community development activities to enhance the physical, economic, educational, and social assets of low-asset neighborhoods, thus empowering residents to gain greater control over their future.

Environmental Studies

The interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program prepares students for leadership positions in environmental research, education, and outreach that emphasizes the ability to fully incorporate environmental justice into environmental solutions. Issues such as climate change and toxic exposures require leadership and solutions that include the full diversity of all peoples.

Internal Affairs

The International Affairs Program allows students to explore, interpret, and understand significant global events via an interdisciplinary lens designed to promote critical thinking and innovative solutions to contemporary human problems. By merging the perspectives of different disciplines in innovative paradigms, students comprehend and creatively analyze issues that affect human rights, well–being, peace, and stability.  This program develops future leaders passionate about learning, committed to global justice and equity, and inspired by an ethic of service to humanity as a whole.

Paul Klee, Angelus Novus (1920)The humanities have always been dedicated to the deepening of self-awareness, both of individuals and of communities, through a study of literature, philosophy, language, and the arts. Interdisciplinary Humanities draws together the expertise of the Departments of Classics, English, Philosophy, World Languages, Anthropology, Afro-American Studies, and others, for an interdisciplinary study of these aspects of human culture from the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, up through and including contemporary Modernism and Afro-Modernity.

The role of the humanities in modern society is often challenged. But while science and technologies improve our lives, it is the humanities that make life worth living. 

Several other programmatic interdisciplinary major areas of concentration are in various stages of completion. These are:

B.A, Interdisciplinary Studies: Religious Studies
B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies: Neuroscience
B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies: Computational Sciences

2. B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies is the Individualized Interdisciplinary Concentration (IIC) 

Students have the opportunity to devise their own unique major areas of learning concentration and experiences with the advice of a committee of faculty advisors in the respective fields of the student’s interest which are not met by existing traditional departments nor met by existing IDS PICs.  

These individual interdisciplinary major schemes would be individually proposed by students and their proposed primary advisor-mentor (who must be a COAS faculty member) and then must be very selectively approved by the student’s proposed supervisory committee, which includes a proposed primary advisor-mentor. While the majority of supervisory committee members must be from the COAS faculty, the supervisory committee may include non-COAS faculty supervisors.

This supervisory committee and the student’s plan would then be approved by the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies Academic Committee and the Department’s chairperson. These individualized interdisciplinary majors would be proposed by qualified students (with a 3.0 minimum GPA), and would contain clearly delineated program goals, coursework schemes, successfully complete screening interviews, and meet other criteria as requested.

Their individual curriculum would be approved or declined by their advisor-mentor, by their supervisory committee, and by the Academic Committee and chairperson of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. Individual Interdisciplinary Major students would earn a BA/BS entitled “Interdisciplinary Studies” on their transcript.