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College of Arts and Sciences
Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies

Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies

IDLS ranked #1 in West and #4 in Nation by
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The B.A. in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies is interdisciplinary studies in a Jesuit educational context - integrating the liberal arts, sciences and community engagement in a way that cultivates humanity. It is for students who have decided to gain a broad and deep education rather than be narrowly focused. Flexibility to choose courses that match your interests provides you with solid preparation for a rewarding career or graduate school.

Degrees offered:

Why pursue an Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies degree?

Because businesses and communities need creative problem-solvers, leaders and integrative thinkers. Because it is no longer enough to be limited to one discipline.

  • Recent graduates are working in every kind of business imaginable and teaching K-8 in the U.S. and abroad. Others are pursuing M.A.'s and Ph.D.'s (Harvard, Stanford, Columbia U). Learn more here.
  • Hiring companies for Program graduates: Yahoo • T-Mobile • AmeriCorp • Seattle Public Schools • Highline Schools • Google • Seattle University • Boeing • Efelle Media • State of Washington • Big Brothers and Big Sisters • Villacorta & Bailey Law • Blitz Digital Agency • Children’s Hospital.  Learn more here.
  • Marketable skills come from being trained as an interdisciplinarian: project-management, effective communication, teamwork, leadership, strategic thinking, creativity and enterprise.

Declaring the Major is simple.

Apply online or come to the Program offices (Casey Building) and complete a one page form declaring your major. You will be assigned an advisor right away, and be encouraged to meet Dr. Sven Arvidson, Director, just to chat about you, the degree and your future.

Degree Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies
Major: Students can major (60 credits) in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies and easily coordinate their major with a second major in another discipline or with a minor.

Strategic Core (25 credits): Majors develop interdisciplinary scholarship, community engagement, and metacognition (reflective thinking) through five strategic courses.

  • IDLS 2300 - Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Liberal Studies
  • IDLS 3000 - Leadership for Community Engagement
  • IDLS 3200 - Special Topics: Interdisciplinary Project
  • IDLS 3300 - Methods of Interdisciplinary Research
  • IDLS 4900 - Senior Synthesis

Areas of Knowledge (35 credits): Majors work closely with professors and advisors to choose from scores of courses in four areas of knowledge.

  • Humanities (3000–4000-level) (15 cr)

    Choose from English, film studies, fine arts, language, history, interdisciplinary liberal studies, philosophy, religious studies, women and gender studies, some Asian studies, and UCOR Humanities and Global Challenges, including five credits in composition/writing
  • Social Sciences (3000–4000-level) (10 cr)

    Choose from anthropology, communications, criminal justice, economics, international studies, nonprofit leadership, political science, psychology, public affairs, sociology, social work, some Asian studies, some addiction studies and UCOR Social Sciences and Global Challenges
  • Natural Science Elective (any level) (5 cr)
  • Math, Statistics, Computer Graphics, or Computer Science Elective (any level) (5 cr)

Unique to Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies

  • IDLS is part of the new movement of integrative Interdisciplinary Studies, represented in the U.S. by the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (we are an institutional member). Teaching the AIS broad model of the Interdisciplinary Research Process is a primary program focus (IDLS 2300, 3200, 3300)
  • IDLS welcomes students at all phases of their academic careers, first year, major change, transfer
  • Project-Centered Coursework is an innovative curricular design in which majors approach real-world problems through planning, design, problem-solving, creating artifacts, and communicating results. Rather than supervisors, faculty become mentors to engaged and self-motivated students.
  • Leadership Seminars and Youth Development are uniquely offered in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies. Majors secure real world experience working with school children, non-profits, and the community. See SU Center for Community Engagement
  • Consortium of Interdisciplinary Scholars is housed in the Program - 120 esteemed professors from every school on campus, Business, Law, Education, Science, Arts and Sciences eager to mentor our students.
  • Personalized Electronic Portfolios allow majors to gather accomplishments, reflect on them, and invite friends, family, and prospective employers to view endeavors.
  • Teaching at the elementary school level requires broad training and a flexible program. This is the preferred degree program in the College for any student wishing to teach at the elementary level. Graduates have been accepted to the Masters in Teaching at SU and other top-tier graduate certification programs such as Stanford and Columbia University (NY). They are teaching in the U.S. and other countries. See our Elementary K-8 Specialization link at the top of this page.

"Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies Majors, for me, are the most remarkable students on campus. They seek more than narrow disciplinary work, and instead pursue broader understanding of complex real-world problems by integrating insights drawn from these disciplines. In other words, they work and think at the most challenging, academic level possible - interdisciplinary scholarship."

~ Sven Arvidson, Ph.D., Program Director



Student Profile: Katy Granath
Whether focusing on Somali women's health or pornography, Katy Granath took on challenging research assignments. Her efforts were rewarded when she flew to Kentucky to present her findings at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. More here.

Alumni Profile: Emily Cohen '10
Social justice, faith, leadership.
More here.

Student Leadership Council 2016-17

Koby Andrews-Howards '17
Victoria Deleon Guerrero '17
Jocelyne Foresman '17
Martin Mendiola '18