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College of Interdisciplinary Studies works to implement master's program

By Suzi Vaughn
On November 8, 2012

The College of Interdisciplinary Studies is currently seeking approval for a master's program in professional science in environmental informatics.
"In July 2012, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies became a college and has recently added the School of Environmental Studies with a bachelor's degree in environmental and sustainability studies," Susan Elkins, vice president for extended programs and regional development, said.
In addition to the new degrees offered, the Center for Protection of Water Sources has joined in the support to work with students pursuing an interdisciplinary studies degree.
In 2002, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies was established offering a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies and in professional studies with two concentrations.
Recently the college has added two more concentrations, creating a total of four: organizational leadership, information technology, health administration and training and development.
"Interdisciplinary studies is a create-your-own degree," Tammy Boles, coordinator of programs adviser, said. "Some people take that the wrong way by thinking it has a negative connotation, and it's just throwing a bunch of classes together. The degree is more than that."
Boles said the two concentration areas must complement each other because students are required to complete one project in order to graduate.
"Interdisciplinary studies works well for students coming back to school, or for those who have decided to change majors," Boles said. "Students who do not want to start over can use the field they are changing from as a concentration along with concentrating in the new field of interest without losing any credit hours."
Senior Amber Flynn said, "As a non-traditional student, a single mom and a working woman, I needed a program that could mesh with my real life, yet help me obtain a job that will help me better provide for me and my children."
There is flexibility for students majoring in interdisciplinary studies.  Elkins said students go into a variety of employment fields such as counseling, chiropractic, athletics and music.
"The advisers at the interdisciplinary studies department made it really easy for me to understand what was required for me to graduate quicker even though I wanted to change my major," James Crawford, senior, said.
lkins said she is thankful other departments work with interdisciplinary studies to make a customizable degree possible for students.

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