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UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Interdisciplinary Studies

Office of Student Academic Affairs
College of Letters and Science
Cheadle Hall 1117
Telephone: (805) 893-2038

Undergraduate Program

Bachelor of Arts—Interdisciplinary Studies (Requirements - PDF)

Objectives of the Major
The major in interdisciplinary studies offers students an opportunity to develop an individualized program of study that provides a means to achieve a sharply focused academic goal that cannot be met by any existing major, a double major, or a major and a minor. The interdisciplinary studies major requires that students do preparatory course work in three Letters and Science departments that serve as the major’s concentrations and complete a total of fifty-six upper-division units in the three concentrations.

Potential applicants are urged to consult with an the interdisciplinary studies advisor in the College of Letters and Science (Cheadle Hall 1117) early in their academic careers for assistance in formulating their objectives within the major and in identifying the courses at UCSB that will best fulfill their goals. The interdisciplinary studies major is open only to students who have completed a significant number of the lower-division courses required for each department of concentration and have earned a grade-point average of 2.0 within each department. Although students typically do not declare the major until they have reached upper-division standing, students should begin planning at least by early sophomore year on how to meet the lower-division requirements stipulated by individual departments. Students who attempt to "pull something together" late in their undergraduate years or to create a theme to fit courses already completed are outside the spirit of the program and will not be accepted into the major. Change of major to interdisciplinary studies during the senior year is not encouraged and will be granted only in exceptional circumstances.

Students considering the interdisciplinary studies major must discuss their plans with the Letters and Science interdisciplinary studies advisor and with advisors in the departments of each of the three proposed concentrations before applying to the major. Applicants will submit a petition for a change of major along with a carefully formulated major proposal that must contain a two- or three-page statement that relates

  • the central theme of the major,
  • the educational goals of the major,
  • the objective of the major (defined in intellectual, not vocational terms).

Thematic coherence is very important as is an explanation of why the objectives cannot be fulfilled by completing an existing Letters and Science major, a double major, or a major and a minor(s). Applicants should indicate how the particular courses chosen in each of the three departments contribute to the goals and the objective of the major. Along with the statement, students will include in their proposal a complete list of courses they plan to take (including the tentative title of a senior project in one of the three areas of concentration) which has been reviewed and signed by the chair (or designee) of the selected department.

Students should carefully study the UCSB General Catalog and major sheet to become familiar with specific requirements and limitations in the major. Students will submit their major proposal to a college dean, who will evaluate it based on overall coherence, academic integrity of the proposed courses, and academic background and performance of the student. A recommendation will then be made to the Executive Committee of the College of Letters and Science, which has the sole authority for approving admission to the major. The program approved by the committee constitutes a contract of courses and may be altered only by petition to the committee.

Policies Governing the Major
The preparation for the interdisciplinary studies major will consist of courses specified by each of the three concentration departments—students should consult with the Letters and Science interdisciplinary studies advisor or the department advisor for details. The major requires that student complete fifty-six upper-division units in the three departments of concentration, including at least sixteen units in each of the three concentrations. As a means of tying together various strands of their study in a coherent and academically significant fashion, interdisciplinary studies majors are required to complete a four-unit course in a department of concentration, typically numbered 199, in which a senior thesis or research project will be completed. A list of suitable courses is available at department offices and the college office. Interdisciplinary studies majors are not allowed to complete a second major.

At the time of graduation, students must have at least a 2.0 overall grade-point average in all upper-division major courses and all major courses, both lower- and upper-division, while in the University of California. No formal acknowledgement of the concentrations is noted on the transcripts or diplomas. Interdisciplinary Studies majors who have cumulative grade-point averages of at least 3.5 and who successfully compete their senior thesis or research projects will be awarded departmental Honors upon graduation.