What does interdisciplinary mean?

two students study together. both laptops are open to different academic subjects.

Interdisciplinary studies. Interdisciplinary major. Interdisciplinary minor. If you’ve done any research on college academics at all, you might have run across these terms before. But what do they really mean? Let’s dig in a bit.

What does interdisciplinary mean at CSU?

“Interdisciplinary studies” is not a totally uncommon term. It’s defined in Merriam-Webster as simply “involving two or more academic, scientific, or artistic disciplines.” Basically, it means that when you choose an academic program that is defined (or partially defined) as interdisciplinary, you’ll be learning from two or more areas of study.

At CSU, an interdisciplinary program allows you to study your interests as well as gain insight, skills, and knowledge in multiple areas. In many ways, choosing an interdisciplinary major or minor means you’ll be diversifying and broadening your academic experience — including what you’ll learn as well as who you’ll connect with.

What programs at CSU are interdisciplinary?

CSU offers a variety of interdisciplinary majors within almost every area of academic interest:

Settled on a major but still looking to add a little more cross-academic studies to your life? CSU has more than 25 interdisciplinary minors to choose from, many of which complement any major, and can add big academic bonus points to your resume later in life. Here is a small sampling of CSU’s interdisciplinary minors:

What are the benefits to being in an interdisciplinary program?

#1. You’ll be uniquely prepared for your future career.

Employers today kind of want it all. Can you analyze massive sets of data and also transform that data into self-explanatory infographics? Jobs that require both right- and left-brain thinking are ripe for the picking. Data Science majors come out with skills that are both highly technical and creative/adaptable. Or, perhaps you love travel and communication. If you’ve got the writing skills of an English or Communications student along with fluency in another language (Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts major), you could easily design your own influencer-inspired travel career.

#2. You’ll make connections with more peers, more professors, and more community members.

Being in one major, within one college and one department, can mean you’ll oftentimes only interact with people in that same major, college, and department. Your internship opportunities might be in that field and nothing else. But imagine if you’re majoring in Civil Engineering with an interdisciplinary Leadership Studies minor. You might be setting yourself up to intern with (or work for!) an engineering firm interested in ethically and civically minded projects. Or, inversely, become the chief engineer in a nonprofit organization.

#3. You don’t have to sacrifice your interests for your career aspirations.

Maybe one of the best things about interdisciplinary studies is the fact that you get to double dip. Do you want to see the world but also land in a stable career in the business world? Perhaps an interdisciplinary minor in International Development to back up your Business Administration degree is in order.

The sky is the limit.

Allowing you to customize your academic path to suit your interests and goals is one of the things CSU does best. Here’s how to transform your degree — and your future — into something amazing.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.