University College

Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS)

Fit it togetherMission Statement

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) at Southern Utah University serves as a degree option for creating innovative, intellectually challenging programs of study that integrate multiple academic disciplines, guided by a Common Core, for students whose personal, academic, and professional aspirations are not served by a traditional major.

What Is Interdisciplinary Studies?

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) degree consists of an individualized academic program that crosses diverse fields of study. The BIS allows students to develop, with directed faculty assistance and appropriate administrative approval, an individually tailored composite which is interdisciplinary and which is not currently an approved major at SUU. The BIS degree emphasizes creativity, interdisciplinarity, and new approaches to traditional subjects. Once admitted to the program, students work with the BIS Program Directorto plan and organize the student’s proposed composite degree which will constitute the Interdisciplinary Studies Degree. The proposed outline should be submitted as early as possible in the student’s undergraduate career and must include all courses which are to constitute BIS major, in accordance with both BIS and SUU requirements.

For more information or an application to the Program, students may contact:

Dr. Shalini Kesar -

Why Choose Interdisciplinary Studies?

Students choose Interdisciplinary Studies for several different reasons. Some may wish to pursue a specific career or graduate study path for which a “traditional” major is not adequate (or may take significantly longer to complete). Other students have multiple interests that a major and minor combination may not be able to satisfy. Still other students use the Interdisciplinary Studies degree as a way to approximate a major that SUU may not offer, such as archaeology or bioengineering. Past and current Interdisciplinary Studies students have designed programs around psychology, biology, and physical education; business, communication, and psychology; and aviation, business, and outdoor recreation.

Interdisciplinary Studies allows students the flexibility to choose which courses they want to take, as well as aids them in integrating their disciplines into a coherent whole through the 8-credit common core of courses: UNIV 1020 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, UNIV 4010 Contemporary Issues, and UNIV 4020 Interdisciplinary Seminar. In UNIV 4010, students study a contemporary topic or issue from multi-disciplinary perspectives. In UNIV 4020, students draw upon knowledge gained through their program of study to complete a capstone project reflecting an interdisciplinary approach to address a contemporary issue or problem.
Students who design their own program of study in Interdisciplinary Studies reap many benefits:

  • A program tailor-made specifically for their own interests and goals.
  • An opportunity to conduct an original research paper or project focusing on a real-world issue through the lenses of their chosen disciplines. (An excellent way to connect with the EDGE Program!)
  • A clear demonstration of a student’s creativity, drive, passion, and sense of purpose to prospective employers and graduate schools.

Major Requirements

The BIS requires students to integrate two or more specific disciplines into a customized program of study, which is then linked together by a common core of classes designed to help students synthesize and communicate the relevance of the integration. BIS students must complete a minimum of 50 credits in the program, 8 of which comprise the common core. Course substitution is not allowed within the common core. The other 42 credits will be drawn from various SUU courses, depending on the student’s needs and in consultation with the Program Director. A total of 30 upper-division credits must be within the BIS program of study. The BIS degree is housed in University College.

PLEASE NOTE: Graduates from this degree program cannot be approved for state certification as a teacher.

2013-2014 BIS Requirements

What’s the Difference between Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary?

The key difference between interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity is integration. Multidisciplinarity is studying two or more disciplines but not creating any connections between them. The best example of this may be a major and minor combination. A student may major in communication and minor in dance performance, but the two subjects may not necessarily intersect in any meaningful way. However, a student who creates an interdisciplinary program of study with communication and dance will integrate the two disciplines and find a way to approach a problem or issue from both perspectives, such as utilizing dance as a form of persuasive nonverbal communication.

The Interdisciplinary Studies program’s common core of UNIV 1020, UNIV 4010, and UNIV 4020 is devoted to this concept of integration, and students will have multiple opportunities to explore potential research papers or projects.

Is the Interdisciplinary Studies Program Right for Me?

Take a short survey to see if the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree could be a good fit for you! Answers are completely anonymous and are for your own self-exploration.