Owning your degree through interdisciplinary studies

Maria Hernandez, a Sophomore studying Communication, has many interests including photography, modeling and art. She is currently switching to the Interdisciplinary Studies program. Photo credit: Lauren Alvarez

BYU-Idaho offers 96 majors, which can make it difficult to pinpoint the perfect major.

According to Penn State University, 20- 50% of students enter college with an undecided major.

BYU-I now offers the interdisciplinary studies program, allowing students to achieve their career goal from studying different subjects, giving them the necessary skills through their degree.

“Interdisciplinary studies or IDS, is a degree that gives students the option to customize their education,” said Danae Romrell, dean of interdisciplinary studies.

Some students are using this program by combining event planning, business, floral design and horticulture to become a wedding planner; others integrate business with dance, construction or photography so they can start their own business.

Analee Bekmezian, a BYU-I alumna, couldn’t narrow down her list of passions.

“I never wanted to be one thing,Bekmezian said.There were too many things I wanted to do.”

Bekmezian isn’t the only student who took advantage of this major. More than 700 students chose interdisciplinary studies.

Students combine three different areas of studies to create their degree. They choose a concentration — an area of study that’s smaller than a major, but bigger than a minor — and integrate that with either minors, certificates or clusters.

In the program, students take courses to learn the value of having various skills and how to solve complex problems.

While interdisciplinary studies has been a program for years, it was redesigned this semester.

“This new version is more helpful for students who start earlier — students in their freshman or sophomore year — so they can take advantage of the different G. E. requirement,” Romrell said.

Caryn Esplin, associate dean of interdisciplinary studies, explained that generals were meant so students can be educated across a broader spectrum, so interdisciplinary studies does not require as many generals due to the diversity within the major.

Maria Hernandez, a sophomore studying communication, is in the midst of switching her major to interdisciplinary studies. She met with Esplin last semester and discovered a love for this program.

“I have so many interests,” Hernandez said. “I can get everything I want… and still study other areas.”

Hernandez wants to eventually work for a marketing team or manage a nutrition blog.

“I want to run a company for something that I love, and I think I can do that with IDS,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez is currently taking an Introduction to IDS course. Hernandez said she has learned how to be a team player and utilize each person’s ideas to create a solution.

“It’s about a lot of people from a lot of disciplines coming together and coming up with an idea that no one could figure out alone,” Hernandez said.

However, it’s important to note that this program isn’t meant for everyone.

“Interdisciplinary studies works really well for students who have a specific career goal in mind,” Romrell said. “And they know what skills they need to gain to achieve that career goal.”

Yet, it’s common for students to not know what career they want until later on. William Fenn, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, shared his experience about how the major is preparing him for his career. Fenn wants to own a dental practice; however, he’d heard from other dentists that the business aspect of owning a dental practice was draining. He didn’t let that stop him.

“I felt that education in business and the pre-requisites for business would be a great help to me later on in life,” Fenn said.

If you have any questions or are interested in this program, contact the advising office at advising@byui.edu, 208 496-9800 or drop by Chapman Hall 101. For more information, visit the BYU-I website.

“In the eternities, we will be fully interdisciplinary: an expert in everything,” said President Henry J. Eyring at an interdisciplinary studies forum.