Penn State Altoona’s Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies allows students to design a course of study centered on their interests and career plans. Working closely with an academic adviser, students select courses focused on a particular theme and then structure their own multi-disciplinary major.
Penn State stipulates that students who major in Multidisciplinary Studies will investigate a theme “from the viewpoint of at least three different subject areas,” each of which must be represented in the student’s 400-level coursework.
All 36 credits of the Multidisciplinary Studies requirements are selected with the approval of your academic adviser. There are no required courses per se, but all of your major courses must fit the objectives and framework described in your Academic Plan and be approved by your adviser.
The Core Requirements Description defines and provides examples of courses that satisfy the Multidisciplinary Studies Core requirements. This list is only partial, however, and other courses may better suit your individual needs, so you should review all courses for your major subjects as described in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin.
Multidisciplinary Studies requires 36 credits as follows:
- Twelve credits in Research Methods/Projects, Critical Analysis, Theory/Application, and Communication Skills;
- Fifteen credits at the 400-level; and
- Nine additional credits.
NOTE: Nine credits of the Multidisciplinary Studies major must be taken in the Humanities or Social Sciences.
Can you self-design a major in anything?
Theoretically, yes, but in all practicality, you are limited by the upper-level courses offered at Penn State Altoona unless you are willing to drive to University Park or another campus for specific courses that we do not offer.
Penn State Altoona offers an excellent variety of upper-level courses in business, communications, criminal justice, education, electro-mechanical engineering technology, English, environmental studies, history, human development and family studies, nursing, political science, psychology, the sciences, and women’s studies.
Can students transfer this major from Penn State Altoona to the University Park campus?
Yes, but only if you do so before earning 60 credits. If you plan to transfer to University Park, you should contact the LAS Program Coordinator there in the College of Liberal Arts as soon as possible to discuss your plans.
Simultaneous and Multiple Majors within Multidisciplinary Studies
Students may declare a simultaneous or multiple majors with Multidisciplinary Studies only if there is no cross- counting of coursework between the major requirement areas.
You can combine Multidisciplinary Studies with any of Penn State’s minors. Six credits at the 400-level for a minor can be double-counted for the Multidisciplinary Studies major. The use of minor credits in the Multidisciplinary Studies Core is permitted without restriction.
The Academic Plan
Once admitted provisionally to the major and after earning 60 credits, students must work with their adviser to write an Academic Plan that thoroughly explains their Multidisciplinary Studies theme and proposed courses. Students whose Academic Plan is not submitted on time will have a hold placed on their registration.
Your adviser will give you instructions for writing the Academic Plan and can also share samples of Plans written by other students.
If you make changes to your Multidisciplinary Studies courses, then you will update your Academic Plan accordingly. Depending on how late you make these changes, your graduation date might be delayed. It is essential that you meet regularly with your adviser to discuss how course changes will affect your Multidisciplinary Studies Plan.
Senior Capstone Course
Penn State Altoona requires all students who graduate from the college to take a Capstone course, preferably in their senior year. Your Academic Plan should designate which of your 400-level courses will serve as your Capstone.
The college’s Faculty Senate has determined that Capstone courses should achieve most of the following goals:
- synthesize the learning that has been delivered in the major program;
- include a significant writing component;
- provide students with an opportunity to place themselves in a scholarly or professional context;
- provide a transition to post-graduation goals, either academic or vocational;
- ensure significant individual interaction between the student and professor.
Capstone courses include those classes such as special topics, independent studies, directed internships, student teaching experiences, clinical work, and traditional classes that combine a number of the items listed above, including writing and individualized instruction in a specific field of study.
You and your adviser should discuss which course would be the most appropriate capstone for your unique Multidisciplinary Studies program. Then you and your adviser should make the instructor aware that this course will serve as your Capstone course; s/he should ensure that the course does, in fact, fulfill the goals of a capstone course.
Students may use 6 credits of independent study numbers (296, 496) within the major.
A key feature of the Multidisciplinary Studies program is the opportunity for a student to expand knowledge, gain practical skills, and learn about future career opportunities through internships.
Although internships are not required in this major, you are encouraged to consider taking these kinds of focused courses, which can be counted in the 400-level Major Requirements.
Students may use only 3 credits of internship numbers (295, 395, 495) within the LAS major.
If you’re interested in an internship experience, you should ideally begin planning it one year ahead of time. For information regarding internship opportunities, contact the college’s Academic Internship Coordinator, Mr. Tom Shaffer (202B Eiche Library, 949-5789, [email protected]) and visit the internship web site.
Only 3 credits of transferred courses may be counted as 400-level courses in the major, and you must provide documentation of the upper-division nature of that work.
No student may complete the Multidisciplinary Studies major primarily through Independent Learning.
The Degree Audit
You can review your progress toward graduation at any time by viewing your degree audit on LionPATH.
You should signal your intention to graduate on LionPATH at the beginning of your final semester.
By mid-term during your last semester, advisers will send a copy of your final degree audit to the Multidisciplinary Studies Program Coordinator, who will review it to ensure that all graduation requirements have been satisfied. Once approved, the degree audit will go to the college Registrar. You will be notified by the Registrar when your graduation status has been approved.