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 applied human services, business studies, engaged social innovation, or health science. 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 Iowa?

The Interdepartmental Studies Program provides an alternative to traditional undergraduate majors.

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.

Admission Requirements

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

 Information

Major(s)
Interdepartmental Studies
BA
Tracks
Applied Human Services
Business Studies
Engaged Social Innovation
Health Science
Individualized Plan of Study
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
for students in the Individualized Track
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our  Pomerantz Career Center  offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

Graduates in the applied human services, business studies-technology and inquiry, engaged social innovation, and health science 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. Employers often are impressed by their enthusiasm and self-directed nature.

Many interdepartmental studies majors pursue graduate or professional degrees. 

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100  study abroad  programs and multiple  undergraduate research opportunities

  Scholarships

The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the  Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

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

Course Work

Students majoring 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. You also may propose a self-designed emphasis area. All emphasis areas require an internship. 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 offers 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 Engaged Social Innovation track is for highly motivated students. It is designed to complement an existing major and to extend that major's scope into areas of social concern. This track encourages students to seek out and develop solutions to social problems and apply their learning in real-world settings. It prioritizes the experiential component of education and also helps students build personal and professional networks with community partners. 

The Health Science track provides a foundation in the general health sciences and gives you a wide 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 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

In addition to course work for the major, students must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

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