Coming to Tufts, I realized that my interests extended beyond a single discipline. I was particularly passionate about diversity and representation of identity, a topic that spanned several disciplines, including Sociology, Psychology, Film & Media Studies, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Consequently, I faced a challenging decision when it came to selecting one or two majors, as I was still learning about which specific theories and methods resonated with me the most for my interests.
As I furthered my research into different majors at Tufts, I came across the Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) program, which provides a one-of-a-kind, make-your-own-major. I’m currently entering my senior year as an IS major with the title of Media, Culture, and Identity.
When I first heard about the IS program, I was intrigued by the prospect of crafting a major that resonated with my unique interests. As a person with a wide range of passions spanning diversity initiatives, cultural studies, and their impacts in our society, I yearned for an academic experience that allowed me to explore and integrate these realms. The freedom to customize my college curriculum was especially appealing, as it meant I wouldn't be constrained by departmental requirements during my four semesters at Tufts as a transfer student (you can learn more about my transfer experience in this blog.) As I dived deep into my self-designed curriculum, I discovered that the knowledge and skills acquired in one discipline often enhanced my understanding in another.
You might be thinking: "The major sounds intriguing, but how can I be sure if Interdisciplinary Studies is the right fit for me?" The straightforward response is, "Unfortunately, you'll never know until you give it a try," as it was in my case when I stepped outside my comfort zone and learned through experience, step by step. However, I'd like to offer a set of questions that can serve as a self-diagnostic test to assess your compatibility with this major. Think of it as a tool to help you gain insights into your potential alignment with Interdisciplinary Studies!
1. Do you feel comfortable in creating your curriculum, reaching out to professors in different departments, and writing a senior thesis?
To officially declare the IS major, students are required to create a comprehensive major proposal that outlines their reasons for integrating traditional disciplines into a distinct interdisciplinary perspective. Within this proposal, students must specify three advisors who will form the advisory committee, supporting the students throughout the program and the senior thesis. As the proposal requires a rationale for pursuing an interdisciplinary major rather than opting for double majoring or minoring in existing programs, being independent and proactive becomes vital to successfully navigate this process.
2. Are you excited about the idea of designing your own major and having the freedom to explore?
Another component of the proposal entails presenting a tentative 4-year class plan outlining the objectives of the IS major. Within this plan, students specify the classes and departments they intend to integrate into their studies. As mentioned earlier, the prospect of selecting classes that align with my existing interests and incorporating them into my major was enticing to me, but this may not be the case for everyone. However, if you already have a rough idea of 2-3 classes you wish to take in the upcoming semesters, it could serve as a positive indicator to pursue the IS program.
3. Have you considered the potential career opportunities and advantages of a self-designed major compared to a traditional major?
Due to its unconventional nature, the IS major may present challenges when going through resume checks, especially for organizations and roles that specifically seek candidates with traditional majors. However, this doesn't mean you cannot leverage the unique background and experiences gained from the IS program during the recruitment process. If you have a genuine passion for your interests and excel in communicating your personal journey, the IS major can become an asset that sets you apart in the application pool. Moreover, if you are considering graduate school, the IS major can be even more advantageous. It allows you to showcase your intellectual curiosity and determination in pursuing your own research questions, demonstrating your capability to excel in independent academic pursuits.
In conclusion, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies has been a transformative experience that has shaped my academic journey. It has taught me to be unafraid of forging new paths, to embrace curiosity, and to see education as a lifelong pursuit.