Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies

Frequently Asked Questions About the IDS Program

What is an Interdisciplinary Studies Major?

The IDS undergraduate major is for students whose academic interests do not lie within one of the regular majors. It is a plan of study consisting of a coherent set of courses from two or more Departments at UF. At least ONE of these Departments must be in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students write a thesis or do a final project under the supervision of a faculty sponsor as a graduation requirement for this major. Students select either an already established concentration (see the IDS secretary in 2014 Turlington, the undergraduate catalog, or the IDS web site for a list and descriptions) such as Biochemistry, Neurobiological Sciences, Film Studies, Women’s Studies, or design a major of their own. A self-designed major must be substantially different from a regular Department major or major-plus-minor at UF. The plan of study must also have a clearly stated goal with a sound rationale for all courses taken in the program. Students may find it helpful to look at relevant majors in catalogues or web sites from other universities as a model for their program.

How do I get admitted to the IDS major?

The IDS major requires at least a 3.0 UF GPA for admission and the approval of the College’s Interdisciplinary Studies Committee. The student submits a well-planned application to the committee (application form included at end of information), with signatures and letters from two faculty sponsors. (Please note that the Committee does not accept students with GPA below 3.0 into the program.) Students are not officially in the program until approved by the IDS committee. Students can graduate with an IDS major only if they have obtained this approval.

How many courses do I take for this major?

The IDS major consists of a CORE of 20 hours at the 3000 level and above. These courses represent the essence of the major and support the writing of the thesis. Additionally, students sign up for 7 hours of IDS 4906 while they are researching writing their thesis. Students must also complete 18 hours of elective courses at the 3000 level and above. These courses may complement the major. An IDS major must also fulfill all college requirements such as the foreign language and distribution requirements.

When should I apply?

Students can apply when the following conditions are met: 1) existing students can submit application to the IDS program as early as the end of their fourth semester; 2) any prerequisite courses described in the information sheet about the specific concentration have been met, and 3) any other courses or experiences (e.g., research) considered prerequisite by the concentration director, the Associate Dean, or the prospective faculty sponsors. 4) for Community College transfer students entering UF at least two semesters (first semester is used to establish GPA) at UF. Until students are admitted into the program, they should select a relevant regular major (e.g., microbiology or chemistry for the biochemistry concentration). In the occasional case in which this results in a “hold” being placed on the student’s registration for courses relevant to the planned IDS major, the student should consult the Associate Dean.

When is it too late to apply for an IDS major?

The committee does not approve admission to the IDS major in the semester during which a student intends to graduate. Planning early for this major is important. Transfer students should try to apply during their second semester on campus since the committee will want to consider at least one semester of UF grades.

Do I need to do an IDS major in order to do research or develop a project?

No. Most departmental regular majors permit, and even encourage a senior thesis or other research experience, typically for credit if desired.

Do I need to do an IDS major in order to do intensive study in two disciplines?

No. You may do two majors or a major and a minor.

What kinds of problems do students encounter in planning this major?

The IDS major is not for everyone. To organize and obtain the major, especially an individualized one, requires a great deal of effort and planning. The committee may require students to resubmit an application several times. The IDS major requires self-discipline and may also take longer to complete than a regular departmental major. In short, some students would be well served by choosing a Department major and a minor, rather than an IDS major.

Can I do IDS and another major?

Yes, though in many cases students would be better served to do one very good major rather than two majors that lack substance. Students cannot use the same courses for both majors without permission of the Associate Dean. Note that IDS students may do a regular minor, but must make written application to the Academic Advising Center by the time they earn 90 hours.

Why do I need two faculty sponsors?

When you are planning your program you need to get the approval of two sponsors, a primary and a second sponsor. You will do your research under your primary sponsor. The second sponsor, who is from another discipline, should review your plan of study to ensure that it is sound and may also provide advice, as requested.

How do I find faculty sponsors?

Information on established tracks include a list of faculty connected with the program, as well as one person responsible for the program. Students in the science tracks should touch base with the faculty Director for each track in order to get a list of faculty research. It is the student’s responsibility to interview faculty to find a lab that has space and an opportunity to engage in a challenging research project.

Students designing their own programs or doing non-science concentrations should obtain advice from the Associate Dean, faculty from whom they have taken courses, or the Undergraduate Coordinators in relevant departments.

It may be helpful to learn about faculty research interests on departmental web sites, links on the IDS web site, or the Honors Program faculty research data base (

Can I change my thesis project after it is approved by the IDS Committee?

Minor changes are permitted with the permission of the main faculty advisor. For more extensive changes, consult with the Director of your concentration or, for individualized concentrations, the Associate Dean.

Must I satisfy the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences?

Yes. Consult the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section of the undergraduate catalog.

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