Interdisciplinary Studies

College Academic Services Building
(213) 740-2961
FAX: (213) 740-4839

Faculty Director: Thomas Gustafson, Ph.D.

Director: Richard Fliegel, Ph.D.

Interdisciplinary Major

The interdisciplinary major allows students to create an individual, original major. It is a flexible option available when a combination of existing majors and academic minors does not adequately fulfill a student’s educational goals. With close advisement, students can build their own programs of study.

The interdisciplinary major is an intensive research program for students with a focused interest in a topic that requires study from more than one disciplinary perspective. Interdisciplinary majors are usually self-motivated students with good writing skills and an intellectual passion for a particular area of inquiry. Course work is selected to lead to a thesis project integrating the areas of research comprising the interdisciplinary major.


Admission to the interdisciplinary major is by application. Applications, which may be obtained from the program office, are considered by a special admissions committee. Interested students must have a GPA of 3.0 (A = 4.0) or above; those with less than a 3.3 are the exception. No one is usually admitted after the end of the first semester of the junior year.

Program Requirements

Students in the program must meet all graduation requirements of the college. When admitted, students establish an academic “contract,” which outlines each semester’s course of study through graduation. The contract includes a minimum of nine (four unit) upper division courses, distributed in at least two fields. The primary focus of the major should be in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. These areas of concentration must then be combined in a senior thesis or project, written under the guidance of a faculty committee.


Course prerequisites cannot be waived; admission to courses restricted to majors is subject to availability and direct negotiations; admission to departments and/or schools which have their own admission requirements must be processed separately.

Bachelor of Arts in Narrative Studies

See English for a full description of the major.

Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership

This minor is offered by faculty from several disciplines whose perspectives are brought to bear on issues and questions that should inform the judgements of capable, ethical leaders. Students are introduced to theoretical and historical models of leadership, engage in case studies of modern leaders, select critical electives that explore ethical and social considerations of leadership, examine professional applications of leadership principles, and integrate what they have learned in a capstone course. The emphasis of the minor is on leadership as expertise in community-building and takes advantage of USC’s programs in community service, including the Joint Educational Project, the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and other internships available through the Division of Student Affairs.

Five upper-division courses, totaling 20 units, are required.

Core Courses Units
Choose two:
CLAS 370 Leaders and Communities 4
CLAS 375 Alexander the Great: Leadership, Personality and World Conquest 4
PHIL 335 Theoretical Models of Leadership 4
MDA 325 Case Studies in Modern Leadership 4
Critical Electives Units
Group A — choose one
PHIL 337 History of Modern Political Philosophy 4
PHIL 437 Social and Political Philosophy 4
PSYC 355 Social Psychology 4
REL 341 Ethics in a Technological Society 4
REL 360 Ethical Issues in the New Medical Revolution 4
REL 375 Conflict and Change and the Ethics of Business 4
SOCI 320 Social Psychology 4
Group B — choose one
IR 303 Leadership and Diplomacy 4
MOR 470 Global Leadership 4
POSC 365 World Political Leadership 4
POSC 423 Presidents and the Presidency 4
Capstone Course Units
AMST 365 Leadership in the Community, or
MDA 365 The Art and Adventure of Leadership, or
MDA 475 The Future of California 4

Courses of Instruction

Interdisciplinary Major Program (INDS)

The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

INDS 100 Topical and Multidisciplinary Seminars (1-4, max 12, FaSp) Small group investigation from an interdisciplinary perspective.

INDS 101 Directed Research and Tutorials (1-4, FaSp) Research and study with L.A.S. Faculty Associates and other faculty.

INDS 102 Field Study (1-4, FaSp) In-service experience in a variety of off-campus institutions under the supervision of an L.A.S. Faculty Associate.

INDS 300 Topical and Multidisciplinary Seminars (1-4, max 12, FaSp) See INDS 100 for description.

INDS 301 Directed Research and Tutorials (1-4, FaSp) See INDS 101 for description.

INDS 302 Field Study (1-4, FaSp) See INDS 102 for description.

INDS 400 Topical and Multidisciplinary Seminars (1-4, max 12, FaSp) See INDS 100 for description.

INDS 401 Directed Research and Tutorials (1-4, FaSp) See INDS 101 for description.

INDS 402 Field Study (1-4, FaSp) See INDS 102 for description.

INDS 494 Senior Thesis (1-8, FaSp) Writing the IDM senior thesis under the supervision of a faculty guidance committee.