What is Interdisciplinary Studies?

Interdisciplinary Studies uses resources from across the curriculum to craft majors that don’t fit within the bounds of traditional college disciplines.

At SNC, students begin by choosing two complementary disciplines based on their personal passions and career goals.

They explore new ideas and information from both practical and academic sources. They look at issues from new perspectives, and solve problems creatively. They take their experience outside the classroom with hands-on projects, research, internships, and community service.

You might combine ski business with sustainability. Outdoor leadership with journalism or digital arts. Psychology with music or visual arts. Or sustainability with environmental science. Explore the possibilities. Find the niche that’s right for you!

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Ashley VanderMeer, major in Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Environmental Science, working on her Rosewood Creek restoration project.
Justine Nelson, Interdisciplinary Studies major in Psychology and Art, works on a digital art project on her laptop
Interdisciplinary Studies students in a field course
McKenna Bean, Interdisciplinary Studies major in Sustainability, on a high country backpacking trip
Kyly Clark, Interdisciplinary Studies major in Journalism and Digital Arts and yoga devotee, doing a headstand on a paddleboard on Lake Tahoe.
Rhett Gause, Interdisciplinary Studies major in Digital Arts and Marketing, photographing a high altitude climbing trip.

Interdisciplinary Studies Defined

  • The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “interdisciplinary” as “involving two or more academic, scientific, or artistic disciplines.”
  • A popular definition of “interdisciplinary studies” is “a process of answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing a topic that is too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or profession.”

That process might aim for new insight into a sprawling issue: “urban crime” or “environmental preservation.” It might aim for a specific solution: “build literacy skills for underserved teenagers,” or “document wild places.” Big or small, a complicated issue needs the different perspectives, tools, theories, methods, and information of many disciplines.

The Interdisciplinary Studies program is built around that process. It includes diverse subject areas, each with its own approaches to understanding our society and environment. Explore a variety of ways to tailor your education to your interests. Combine your passions – you don’t have to choose between them.

Why Choose Interdisciplinary Studies?

Interdisciplinary Studies at Sierra Nevada College is a program for students who want to be excited, involved, and challenged. It’s active learning at its most active. Learn through projects, internships, and service learning. You’ll be hands-on from your first introductory class through the senior project you design around your own research and interests. Concentrate on “real world” situations and concrete results.

Sydney Pinkerton combined her love of art, passion for the outdoors, and drive to help others into an internship in equine therapy as a path to her own adventure and art therapy practice.

Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Psychology major Sydney Pinkerton enjoys spending time with her horse
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Art, Psychology
Class of 2016

I’ve always felt a need to encourage individual empowerment and teach people self-love, and the path I am on now is taking me closer to making that passion a career. I hope to work in established adventure and art therapy programs on the way to starting my own! . . . Read More

Isaac Laredo worked with the Sierra Avalanche Center as a field assistant, researching avalanche prediction models, and on a marketing program to engage 18 to 25-year-olds, the group most at risk from avalanches.

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Environmental Science
Class of 2018

On my first rock climbing trip, the height and my own inexperience made me very nervous - but the same gut feeling that comes from being out of your comfort zone represents growth! . . . Read More

Jamie Wanzek drew on her photography and graphic design training, her summer magazine internship, her journalism courses – and found new management skills – as the managing editor of the Eagle’s Eye, SNC’s student newspaper.

Jamie Wanzek, New Media Journalism major, explores and captures images
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in New Media Journalism
Class of 2017

I was first hooked on journalism during an internship with The Durango Herald, my hometown paper, while I was still in high school. . . . Read More


Interdisciplinary Studies Majors at Sierra Nevada College

Get your bachelor’s degree outside the confines of traditional majors. Focus your education around Outdoor Adventure Leadership, Sustainability, Digital Arts and Business, Journalism and Media, Psychology and Art or Music, or International Studies and Humanities. Find your perfect niche within all the possibilities. The range of options within the Interdisciplinary Studies program lets you draw on all your interests and abilities.

Learn from professors who have been there and done that. They will inspire you, support you, and mentor your success. Graduate with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree uniquely prepared to tackle complex challenges, from hyper-local to global. Our alumni have improved the accuracy of avalanche prediction; investigated and published undisclosed safety issues on U.S. Navy aircraft; built a business to improve recycling and environmental sustainability at music festivals; taken the time-lapse image on the cover of Nat Geo’s 2015 Guide to the Night Sky; and co-authored a hiking guide to the Tahoe Basin.

What will you do?

Marina McCoy, SNC Interdisciplinary Studies major in Sustainability and Ski Business and founder of the event sustainability start-up Waste Free Earth, with some of her crew members at the Friendly Gathering Festival
Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership students in a whitewater rafting class
Interdisciplinary Studies students in Sustainability visiting the Tahoe Food Network
A Sierra Nevada College Interdisciplinary Studies student in Journalism and Digital Art working on a documentary film
Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership students in a backcountry skiing and riding class
Sierra Nevada College Eagle's Eye reporters at the Associated Collegiate Press National College Media Convention

How To Enroll in Interdisciplinary Studies

Sierra Nevada College is looking for the next generation of leaders. The Interdisciplinary Studies program is the perfect home for motivated students who want to use their passion to make a difference. Our students’ uniqueness is part of our strength, so SNC gives every application a detailed and robust review. We are also committed to making college affordable for every qualified student. Virtually all of our students receive merit scholarships and/or need-based grants.

We recommend that you apply as early as possible, although we accept applicants on a rolling basis. Students generally receive a decision within two weeks of filing a complete application.

You can apply for the Interdisciplinary Studies program using the SNC Undergraduate Application or the Common Application. An interview is not required, but you are encouraged to visit the campus. Here you can discover our school and students firsthand, and meet our faculty in person. Or, meet us at a college fair or high school visit during the fall semester. That’s when our admissions counselors travel to cities across the country. Your guidance counselor can tell you if someone from Sierra Nevada College will be visiting your area.

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Sierra Nevada College's Interdisciplinary Studies program offers majors in
Outdoor Adventure Leadership, Sustainability, Digital Arts & Business, Journalism & Media,
Psychology & Art or Music, and International Studies & Humanities