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Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

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Keep future career options open with a liberal arts degree

Freedom. Flexibility. Possibility. There’s something about an online liberal arts degree that allows you to pursue an education based upon your own passions and interests. NU’s BA in Interdisciplinary Studies is designed to provide you with a well-rounded education that focuses on reasoning, intellect, and ethical development. With this knowledge, you’ll be equipped for a broad range of professional pursuits beyond graduation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American will change jobs more than 10 times over the course of their career, and those moves don’t necessarily happen within the same industry. No matter where your career path takes you, this rich and rigorous curriculum can prepare you for career options in our ever-changing cultural and economic environment. You’ll develop a strong background in research and writing and well-rounded critical thinking skills, which are valued by employers in just about any field.

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Course Details

Preparation for the Major

  • 3 courses; 13.5 quarter units

Prerequisite: ENG 102

An overview of the main genres of literature, including fiction, poetry and drama. Examines literary language and different approaches to literary criticism designed to increase student confidence when responding to literature.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Analysis of Modern English structure using the methods of traditional grammar. Topics studied: parts of speech, grammatical functions, phrase, clause, and sentence types, and nominal and verbal categories. Nature and usefulness of prescriptive rules of grammar. How to teach traditional grammar as presented in the secondary English curriculum. Instruction will encourage students to demonstrate critical understanding of traditional grammar, of contemporary syntactic analysis, and of the strengths and weaknesses of those systems in secondary education.

PrerequisiteENG 102; ENG 240, or ENG 334A

An advanced course for students interested in using writing as a means of exploring the natural world. This course surveys nature writing in its various forms (essays, articles, poetry, journals, etc.) as well as effective nature writing strategies. This course is designed to give students a basis for future personal creative work.

Prerequisite: ENG 102

Survey of American history from pre-colonial times through Reconstruction. Explores economic, political, social and cultural factors that shaped the origins of the nation, including the Revolution, the Constitution and the Civil War. Special attention is paid to issues of race, class, gender and ethnicity. Includes study of the Constitution.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Survey of American history from Reconstruction to the present. Explores economic, political, social, and cultural factors that shaped the development of the nation, including industrialization, America’s emergence as a world power and the challenges of the late 20th century. Pays special attention to issues of race, class, gender and ethnicity.

Requirements for the Major

  • 13 courses; 58.5 quarter units

PrerequisiteENG 102

A critical examination of the media and power in modern democracies. Covers theories of democratic participation and media responsibility, as measured against contemporary practices around the world. Explores effects of television news, popular access to video and electronic technologies, and global electronic networks on contemporary political and cultural discourse.

PrerequisiteENG 102

A critical examination of the complex relationship between film and society and the processes by which film both influences and is influenced by society. Emphasizes the importance of locating the meaning of film texts within social and historical perspective and identifies how the film industry influences the presentation of different groups of people and issues in society. Explores the interrelationship between film and technology, the impact of narrative and the institution of Hollywood on the sociological imagination and the nature of representation, particularly as it applies to race, class and gender.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Examines race, gender, ethnicity and class in 20th century American society. Introduces students to methods for studying the changing nature of our society and explores ways in which our increasingly urbanized and technological culture affects all aspects of professional and unskilled work. May involve work in oral history.

This course is designed to develop the mindset of a holistic thinker or inter-disciplinarian and that of a knowledge explorer, a participant observer and citizen leader in a culturally-diverse and interdependent world. The course is organized around instructional units and a number of related modules. It is based on a principle of “information-giving, information-receiving, and information-exchanging.” Emphasis is placed on reading, reflection, web resources and enrichment lectures, action research, writing, dialogue, and debate.

Prerequisite: BIS 301 and four additional courses from the major

This course is a sequel to the introductory course interdisciplinary studies, BIS 301. It is the second of three course courses in the Bachelor of Arts program. It is a “how-to course” on interdisciplinary inquiry designed to provide students with an opportunity to use digital tools to explore and examine the assumptions and the relevance of connectivity between and among various disciplines on the College of Letters and Sciences. It is anticipated that the students will learn how to examine issues critically and approach problems holistically. They will also learn how to integrate the knowledge acquired in their program of study to date and create a space and a voice to demonstrate the practice of interdisciplinary.


Select ONE 4.5 quarter unit course in literature (LIT) 
The following are recommended:

PrerequisiteENG 240 and LIT 100

A survey of important American authors and literary trends through the late 19th century. Texts will be situated in relation to cultural, philosophical, social and historical contexts, e.g., Puritanism and its legacies, varieties of American Romanticism, debates over slavery and gender roles, formation of national identities.

PrerequisiteENG 240 and LIT 100

A survey of important American authors and literary trends from the late 19th century through the present. Texts will be situated in relation to cultural, philosophical, social and historical contexts. Particular attention will be paid to the modernist canon and to works by women and authors of color that respond to American literary heritage and social conditions.

PrerequisiteENG 240 and LIT 100

An examination of major works of William Shakespeare.

PrerequisiteENG 240 and LIT 100

An examination of mythology. This course recognizes that myth-making is a creative activity central to all cultures, including our own society. Students analyze and compare mythological narratives from a variety of cultures.

PrerequisiteENG 240 and LIT 100

Focused study of a particular theme, genre, period, or author.

PrerequisiteENG 240 and LIT 100

Focused study of a particular theme, genre, period, or author.

PrerequisiteENG 240 and LIT 100

A study of the representations of gender in literature to better understand changing literary aesthetics. Discusses assumptions about the ways gender permeates language and discourse.

Social Sciences

Select ONE 4.5 quarter unit course in social sciences (HIS, POL, SOC)
The following are recommended:

PrerequisiteENG 102

Places contemporary cultural, economic and technological issues in a global and historical perspective. Examines the ways that capitalism, culture, and technology have interacted over the past 500 years to shape the places, peoples and societies that have come into existence in the modern world.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Through an historical and literary approach, this course examines the interaction of the hopes and dreams of the peoples of California from the arrival of the first peoples to the post-World War II boom. May involve work in oral history.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Introduces students to the concept and origins of popular culture and to social theories used by academics to analyze its impact on self and culture in modern consumer societies. Topics include mass media, TV, the internet, video games, sports, leisure, fashion, celebrity, shopping, advertising, and youth culture.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Examines the institutions of marriage and family structures and their historical development. Topics include kinship, changing gender roles, changing family forms, divorce, domestic violence, and economic structure.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Uses the functionalist, conflict and interactionist perspectives, this course explains how human conditions come to be perceived as social problems, and how to evaluate their proposed solutions.

PrerequisiteENG 102

A critical examination of theories of power, including the relationship of power to culture, social class, the economic order, government, ideology, poverty, race, sex and other topics. Studies community, national and international power structures and institutional leaderships.

Behavioral Sciences

Select ONE 4.5 quarter unit course in behavioral sciences (HUB, PSY).
The following are recommended:

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

A study of the theoretical and practical aspects of interpersonal and group communication.

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

A study of human relations and its relationship to organizational effectiveness through planned change and technological development.

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

Explores the intellectual history and contemporary diversity of psychology in dialogue with a cultural understanding about the nature of the person. Topics include: psychology and science, philosophy of mind, functionalism, measurement, applied psychology, gestalt, behaviorism, the unconscious mind, phenomenological and existential psychology, clinical psychology and mental health, and qualitative perspectives.

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

A study of the way in which the brain mediates behavior, emotion, and cognition. Topics include sensory systems, neural development, emotion, learning, memory, consciousness, reproduction, and neurological and psychological disorders.

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

A study of the major transitions from fetal development through death in the physical, cognitive, social and emotional domains. The impact of ethnic, gender and cultural factors on development will be examined.

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

The study of psychological characteristics of the individual that endure in stable form for substantial periods of time. Examines influential theories of personality and supporting research.

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

A study of the responsiveness of individuals to various sources and forms of social influence. Major areas of study include persuasion, conformity, obedience, prejudice, attitude formation and change, social behavior, altruism, aggression and the influence of the mass media. Emphasizes social circumstances rather than variations in personal characteristics, as in personality theory.

PrerequisiteENG 102; PSY 100

The study of psychological functioning in the area of mental operations, largely uninfluenced by individual differences in personality or motivation. This encompasses the areas of attention, pattern recognition and other perceptual achievements, memory, problem solving, categorization and concept formation, language acquisition and use, textual interpretation and decision making.

Natural Science and Mathematics

Students should choose no fewer than 4.5 quarter units in natural science and 4.5 quarter units in mathematics. A third 4.5 quarter unit course (either SCI, BIO, EES, or MTH) must also be selected. Some of the mathematics courses may have more than one prerequisite.

The following are recommended:

Examination of relationships between geographical features of the earth and human societies. Includes the study of map construction, mapping tools, geographical data, and the influence of geomorphological features on the development and spatial distribution of political systems, languages, and religions.

PrerequisiteBIO 161; BIO 162; BIO 163; BIO 169A; CHE 141; CHE 142; CHE 143; CHE 149A

A study of the relationship of plants and animals to their environment and to one another. Emphasizes populations, the population-community interface and community structure and interactions within the ecosystem.

PrerequisiteBIO 161; BIO 162; BIO 163; BIO 100A, or BIO 100; BIO 100A

Study of the flora, fauna, and biomes of California. This course includes field trips, with sites selected for each academic center within the University.

PrerequisiteMTH 209A

This continuation of MTH 209A includes concepts of measurement, geometry, probability and statistics, elementary synthetic and Euclidean Geometry. Computer programming in BASIC is introduced. Methods are incorporated whenever possible. However, both MTH 209A and MTH 301 are content/concept courses as prescribed by State regulations, not methods courses. Calculator may be required.

PrerequisiteMTH 215, or MTH 216A and MTH 216B and MTH 210

An introductory to mathematical modeling, utilizing a variety of diverse applications from physical, biological, business, social, and computer sciences. Discuss the limitations, as well as the capabilities, of mathematics as applied to understanding of our world. Teaches problem identification, models of solutions and model implementation. Graphing calculator is required.

PrerequisiteMTH 215, or MTH 216A and MTH 216B, or MTH 301

Computer Technology in the Mathematics Classroom An overview of the computer-based technology in the mathematics classroom. Evaluates graphing calculators, and computer software such as Maple, Scientific Workplace, Geometer’s Sketchpad, MiniTab, SPSS, and others to determine their value in illuminating concepts in the curriculum.

PrerequisiteMTH 216B, or MTH 215, or MTH 301

An examination of fundamental concepts of numbers, including divisibility, congruencies, the distribution of Primes, Pythagorean triples, the Euclidean Algorithm, the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, Diophantine equations, and Goldbach’s conjecture. Emphasizes active student involvement in posing and testing conjectures, formulating counter examples, logical arguments and proofs.

PrerequisiteMTH 215, or MTH 301, or MTH 216A and MTH 216B

Examines currents in the development of mathematics and throughout ancient Egypt, Babylon, China, and the Middle East. It studies math’s influence on society through the major events of Europe, contemporary developments, and some projections into the future, including the women and men who played key roles in evolution of mathematics.

PrerequisiteMTH 216A and MTH 216B, or MTH 215 and MTH 311

A discussion of fundamental ideas and processes common to Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometries: projective, affine and metric geometry. Examines the interplay between inductive and deductive reasoning and formal and informal proof. Addresses uses in science (transformations, scaling), art (Escher-type tessellations, projections), architecture (three-dimensional figures) and computer science (fractals, computer-aided design).

PrerequisiteMTH 210 and MTH 220

An examination of statistical applications to business, computer science, psychology, education, social sciences, and mathematics with fundamental concepts of probability distribution, mathematical models relating independent and dependent random variables, hypothesis testing and experimental design. Includes fundamental analysis of variance, various distributions and methods of regression, analysis and scaling.

PrerequisiteBIS 301; Recommended: Prior completion ofMTH 215

This elective is open to non-science majors. This trans-disciplinary course is a comprehensive team science approach to learning the basic concepts of genetic anthropology, human evolution, migration and cultural diversity, genetics and human variation, and epidemiology of disease. It will make use of computer technology. Students will participate in virtual learning environments and be introduced to interdisciplinary case studies. Teams of students will engage in investigative data search and analysis. Patterns of human migration will be examined within the context of cultural diversity, language, and the impact of environment on disease.


Select nine (9.0) quarter units from the humanities complex (ART, HIS, HUM, MUS, PHL, SOC, THR, GLS).
The following are required:

PrerequisiteENG 102

Survey of the art of cinema from the silent period to the present; examines film techniques and theories; explores film styles and genres, focusing on elements such as lighting, editing, and cinematography; establishes a basis by which students can make aesthetic judgments.

PrerequisiteENG 102

An introduction to the major movements, styles and artists from Impressionism to the present. Examines how themes of contemporary art reflect the social, historical and cultural events of the period.

PrerequisiteENG 102

This course approaches the fundamentals of visual and applied arts from a global perspective and provides an overview of non-Western art from ancient times to the present. Specific areas of focus are the art of South Asia and the Islamic World, East Asia, Pre-Columbian Central and South America, Native North America, Africa and Oceania. Students learn how to look at, appreciate, and critically think and write about art from the perspectives of a diversity of cultures and historical eras.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Introduction to Latin American history and culture focusing on diversity of Latin American societies and their multicultural heritage. Topics include colonialism and indigenous societies, growth of plantation and mining economies, enslavement of Africans, struggle for independence, distribution of political power, recurrence of popular rebellion, and artistic and cultural life.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Overview of contemporary Asian history and culture focusing on the diversity of Asian societies. Includes distribution of political power, ideological and structural stratification between East and West, impact of “Orientalism” in global context, impact of imperialism, effects of sexual and religious stratification, and discussion of political and religious differences.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Survey of major themes, issues, and personalities in African history since 1500. Topics include: kingdoms and empires, population movements, spread of Islam, slave trade era, abolition of slave trade, European imperialism, impact of colonialism, religious and cultural movements, nationalism and pan-Africanism, ethnicity and identity in modern Africa.

PrerequisiteENG 102

A survey of American music from the Colonial period to the present. Emphasizes political, social and economic developments as related to the evolution of American music, including popular, religious and art music in a broad array of styles.

PrerequisiteENG 102

An exploration of musical traditions and techniques in a variety of cultures, including Japan, India, Native America, South America, and Africa. Broadens students’ cultural understanding of music.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Major world religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are surveyed in their historical, literary, and historical contexts. The sociology of religion is extensively addressed, and parallels in myths, rituals, conversion, and rites of passage are compared. Recent and contemporary religious trends are also addressed.

PrerequisiteENG 102

An in-depth analysis of the writings of a major figure in the history of philosophical thought. The particular emphasis will be determined by the instructor in the context of the specific thinker chosen.

PrerequisiteENG 102

An exploration of ethical theories as they inform and are applied to contemporary environmental issues such as animal rights, habitat loss, species extinction, pollution, industrialization, population control, ecofeminism and political ecology. Western cultural and ecological assumptions are examined through the lenses of humanitarian, eco-centric, utilitarian, deontological, and ethics-of-care perspectives.

PrerequisiteENG 102

An examination of theories of value and ideological differences in practical applications to clarify ethical differences. Course emphasizes the dilemmas of personal and professional responsibility, including business and workplace circumstances, social relationships, and political practice.

PrerequisiteENG 102

An expansive overview of world consciousness, drawing upon the significant, creative contributions of men and women from varied cultures and different fields of learning. Emphasizes the approach of comparative synthesis. Studies the world’s outstanding creative thinkers and the interconnectedness of their works.

PrerequisiteENG 102

Examines the origins of cultural pluralism in the USA and the valuing of diversity as a socio-cultural imperative. Explores the social history of race and ethnic relations in the USA from Colonial America to the present. Topics include voluntary and involuntary immigration, internal colonization, theoretical frameworks for understanding prejudice and discrimination, master narratives, the US Census, eugenics, immigration policy, and how gender and class complicate understandings of race and ethnicity in the USA.

PrerequisiteENG 240

Examines the sociological and historical experiences of sex, sexuality, and gender in the USA, focusing on their intersectionality with race, class, and other social variables. Analyzes dominant representations of gender roles and stereotypes in public culture as well as LGBTQ and other representations that challenge prevailing power structures.

Capstone Course

This is an eight-week, 4.5 quarter unit capstone course that focuses on portfolio and research methodologies. It is designed to provide students with an opportunity to integrate lessons learned from interdisciplinary portfolio-building and understand the craft of interdisciplinary research. The main course content areas include: 1) Portfolio packaging and interdisciplinary analysis on a topic as a model for students, 2) Internet research, 3) Developing an interdisciplinary research project, 4) Paper editing, 5) Constructing a sound argument, and 6) Clarifying elements across disciplinary boundaries. Grading is H, S or U only. Course is eligible for In Progress (IP) grade.

Upper-Division Electives

  • 2 courses; 9 quarter units

Students can select any 300, 400, or 500 level courses in arts and sciences to complete the total of 76.5 upper-division units for the degree.

Degree and Course Requirements

To receive a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies, students must complete at least 180 quarter units as articulated below, 45 of which must be completed in residence at National University, 76.5 of which must be completed at the upper-division level and a minimum 69 units of the University General Education requirements. The following courses are specific degree requirements. If students intend to complete a teacher credentialing program, these courses will help prepare for the MSAT and Basic Skills requirement tests. In the absence of transfer credit, students may need to take additional general electives to satisfy the total units for the degree. Students should refer to the section on undergraduate admission procedures for specific information on admission and evaluation. All students receiving an undergraduate degree in Nevada are required by State Law to complete a course in Nevada Constitution.

This NU liberal arts program focuses on helping you build essential skills in research and writing that can be applicable to almost any future career choice. Our goal is to prepare you with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue entry-level positions in an area that interests you.

A broad-based liberal arts education gives you a foundation to plan and pursue many different career tracks. You may even opt to expand your education and earn your teaching credential. The point is, NU’s BA in Interdisciplinary Studies gives you an extraordinary amount of control over the direction your professional life takes after you graduate. For example, Emsi Labor Analyst data suggests graduates with this degree will be qualified to pursue opportunities in:

  • Teaching
  • Communications
  • Research
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Management

More specifically, employment data pulled from multiple sources by Emsi identifies education as being the most common fit for job seekers with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, with the most prevalent career paths being:

  • Adjunct faculty at colleges and universities
  • K-12 teachers in public and private schools
  • Education administrators
  • Tutors and instructors

Throughout the Bachelor of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies program, you’ll participate in a well-rounded education designed to enhance reasoning, intellect, and ethical development, with interdisciplinary studies courses that include English and literature, social sciences, behavioral sciences, mathematics, humanities, natural sciences, and others. This rich and challenging path will prepare you for professional work in the changeable modern world and global economy.

To receive a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies, students must complete at least 180 quarter units as articulated below, 45 of which must be completed in residence at National University, 76.5 of which must be completed at the upper-division level and a minimum 69 units of the University General Education requirements.

To make learning flexible and convenient, National University offers a variety of course formats, including online, on-site, and hybrid courses. Please note that the modality of any course may vary from the scheduling of any program-specific courses on a month-to-month basis. In this program, you will take:

  • On-site courses – This includes on-ground, in-person course instruction, which could be either on-site or at another learning site at a specific time, place, and location. On-site courses may have course information, work, or other education-related items delivered through online environments and tools.
  • Online courses – This includes instruction that is fully virtual and online, comprised of regular and substantive interaction between students and their instructors in either an asynchronous or synchronous format. Asynchronous online classrooms provide instruction, lessons, and coursework via an online learning management system that allows students to view instructional materials each week at times of their choice. Synchronous classes require students to log in, engage, and attend at specific times and dates, leveraging web and videoconferencing technologies to provide instruction, lessons, and coursework in real time.
  • Hybrid courses include both on-site and online instruction. Hybrid courses can have multiple deliveries of course instruction/materials and will have on-ground requirements at specific locations and times. The online learning management system is often used to present or supplement course lessons, work, information, and assessments.

Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program, you’ll develop the following skills:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of interdisciplinary theory and the practice of critical thinking for the collection, validation, analysis, and synthesis of historical data and new information
  • Explain the integration of knowledge in a global context and engage in collaborative research across disciplines
  • Access opportunities for professional certifications on SAAS, Oracle, and Data Warehouses
  • Identify and appreciate the cultural perspectives of world views
  • Use information communication technology for knowledge sharing and the interdisciplinary approach
  • Demonstrate a deep and flexible understanding of subject matter

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Frequently Asked Questions

The short answer is … a lot of things. Because you’ll be gaining knowledge in several different subject areas and building your critical thinking skills, you’ll graduate with the qualifications to pursue jobs in a broad range of fields — everything from healthcare and education to business and finance.

While a traditional, career-specific degree program puts you on a track to enter a particular field, studying liberal arts empowers you to focus your education on more than one area of interest. In this curriculum, you can expect a broad and demanding program that’ll introduce you to the humanities, arts and sciences and guide you in discerning the connections across those disciplines.

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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.

*Positions may require additional experience, training, and other factors beyond successfully completing this degree program. Depending on where you reside, many positions may also require state licensure, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all licensure requirements are met. We encourage you to also review program-specific requirements. Any data provided on this page is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that completion of any degree program will achieve the underlying occupation or commensurate salary.