The interdepartmental studies major at Iowa allows students to create a course of study that complements their educational and career goals. Students can design an individualized plan of study or choose a preapproved plan in business studies, applied human services, health science, or writing for the sciences. Each track includes course work from a variety of departments.

Students have chosen individualized study plans in areas as varied as aging studies, international business, diversity studies, children's studies, environmental issues, and health issues.

Why Study at Iowa

Because Iowa offers faculty expertise and resources in more than 200 areas of study, students can design a course of study that complements a wide variety of interests. Advisers in the Interdepartmental Studies Program help connect students to those resources.

Course Work

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in interdepartmental studies choose from several tracks:

The Applied Human Services track provides a foundation in psychology and gives you a choice of emphasis areas: aging services, community-based services, or corrections services. All emphasis areas require an internship and you also may propose a self-defined emphasis area. You’ll be advised at the Academic Advising Center.  Course work includes:

  • Elementary Psychology
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Three human relations courses
  • Three lower-level psychology courses
  • Four emphasis area courses

The Business Studies track provides a foundation in business and gives you a choice of emphasis areas: workplace practices and perspectives, values and ethics, or arts management. The arts management emphasis requires an internship. The other two emphasis areas include an optional practicum—a hands-on project or experience. You also may propose a self-defined emphasis area. You will be advised at the Academic Advising Center. Course work includes:

  • Calculus and Matrix Algebra for Business
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • A course in statistics
  • A course in accounting or entrepreneurship
  • Two elective courses in business
  • Five or more emphasis area courses

The Health Science track provides a foundation in the general health sciences and gives you a choice of emphasis areas: multidisciplinary science, entrepreneurship, aging, global health, or cultures of healing. Each emphasis includes an optional practicum—a hands-on project or experience. You also may propose a self-defined emphasis area. You'll be advised by the Academic Advising Center. Course work includes:

  • Chemistry I–II
  • A basic biology course
  • A course in mathematics or statistics
  • A social science course (anthropology, psychology, or sociology)
  • A science elective (anatomy or biology)
  • A course in equity issues, health, human development, physiology, or nutrition
  • Five or more emphasis area courses

The Writing for the Sciences track is a new emphasis area that encourages students interested in science to apply that interest professionally to scientific writing and publication.

The Individualized Plan of Study track allows you to create a major not already offered at Iowa. It can be designed around your goals and should integrate courses from departments across the university. This track typically attracts students who are self-motivated and goal-oriented.

You will need to submit a plan of study to the interdepartmental studies faculty advisory committee before you declare the major in this track. It is possible to pursue this degree through the four-year graduation plan.

The interdepartmental studies coordinator will be your academic adviser and should be contacted as soon as possible. All course work for the individualized plan must be taken at the university.

Your plan of study should include:

  • An essay clearly explaining the area of intellectual focus
  • The reasons for preferring interdepartmental studies to other departmental programs
  • A discussion of how advanced courses relate to each other, to personal interests, and to the central focus of the plan of study
  • A description of academic goals for the bachelor’s degree
  • A transcript of college course work completed to date and advanced-level course work planned for all remaining semesters

See Interdepartmental Studies in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the requirements for each track in this major and graduating with honors.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Graduates in the applied human services, business studies, health science, and writing for the sciences tracks have career options in a variety of settings, including retirement homes, hospitals, health clubs, government agencies, insurance companies, and performing arts companies.

Students who create individualized plans of study at Iowa stand out when they apply for jobs because their major emphasizes a unique set of strengths and interests. In addition, employers often are impressed by their enthusiasm and self-directed nature.

Many interdepartmental studies majors go on to graduate school.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Interdepartmental Studies (BA)
Applied Human Services
Business Studies
Health Science
Writing for the Sciences
Individualized Plan of Study
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
for students in the Individualized Track