Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Interdisciplinary Major Program?

The Interdisciplinary Major Program is an option for students who have academic interests that cannot be accommodated within one of the majors in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences or within a combination of major and minor programs. Students completing the program receive a Bachelor of Arts in the Interdisciplinary Major.


What are the requirements?

In addition to satisfying the Diversity, Foreign Language, General Education and other requirements of a Bachelor of Arts in the College, Interdisciplinary Majors must pass nine upper-division courses drawn from a minimum of two different academic units and complete a senior thesis or research project.


How do I choose which courses to take for my major requirements?

The projected set of required upper-division coures is selected at the time of application and approved by the Executive Committee, comprising the Director, Faculty Director and the two members of the student's Guidance Committee. In general, the courses must be choosen so that the overall program has a coherence, breadth, and depth comparable to a standard major program in one the traditional academic disciplines. These coures must prepare the student for a thesis or research project. A major component of the proposed schedule of classes must be drawn from departmental offerings in the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. It is expected that the proposed schedule of courses will be selected with the advice of the prospective members of the Guidance Committee and other faculty with expertise in the relevant disciplines.


Can I make changes in my coursework as I progress in the program?

Yes, but all changes must be approved by both the Director and the student's Guidance Committee Chair.


What are the expectations for my senior thesis or final project?

These may vary quite considerably depending on the individual student's interests and goals, and are determined by agreement between the student and his or her Guidance Committee, subject to approval by the Director. In general, the senior thesis or final research project must be a substantial product involving individual research on the part of the student. It will typically take the form of an academic paper on the scale of an Honors Thesis in the various College departments: generally, a 30-50 page paper in standard format, with all the appropriate research apparatus (footnotes, bibliography, etc.). The paper can be supplemented with student work in other formats, such as an exhibition catalogue, script, work of fiction, electronic or multimedia presentation, etc., subject to the approval of the Guidance Committee and the Director.


How do I choose the topic for my senior thesis or final project?

The topic is choosen at the time application is made to the Interdisciplinary Major program. It is proposed by the student, in consultation with the prospective Guidance Committee. In general, the topic of the project should be interdisciplinary in nature, combining at least two of the disciplines represented in the set of courses taken for the major. The topic can be changed with the approval of the Guidance Committee Chair.


What is the composition of the Guidance Committee?

The Guidance Committee consists of at least two members of the USC faculty drawn from at least two different academic departments of units. Generally, one of the members will serve as supervisor and the others as readers of the senior thesis or final research project. Each of the disciplinary components of the student's program (i.e., the ones from which the set of courses are primarily drawn) must be represented by a member of the Guidance Committee, with the supervisor usually representing a main component of the program. Usually you will be able to identify the members of the your Guidance Committee on the basis of their research interests and/or the courses they usually teach; often you will have taken one or more courses with prospective members of the committee. The directors of the Interdisciplinary Major program can provide assistance in identifying prospective Guidance Committee members, if such assistance is needed. The individual student is responsible for approaching prospective Guidance Committee members to secure their agreement to participate on the committee and their approval of both the proposed senior thesis or other final research project and the proposed schedule of required coureses. At least one member of the Guidance Committee, typically the supervisor, must be a member of the faculty of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences.


What are the requirements for application to the program?

Applicants must have completed fewer than 80 units toward the bachelor's degree at time of application, and must have at least a 3.0 (4 point scale) overal grade point average. Applicants with less than a 3.3 are rarely accepted. Application forms can be obtained from the Director at CAS 200, mc 0153. To complete the application, the student must submit the completed application form (with signatures from the Guidance Committee members), a proposed schedule of classes and a proposed research project (both of which have been approved by the Guidance Committee), and a copy of their academic transcript, to the Director and Faculty Director.


Who is my advisor? Who monitors my progress throught the program?

Your pricipal academic advisor will be the supervisor on your Guidance Committee, although you are encouraged to seek advice from other members of the committee as well. Each semester, before you complete registration for your classes, you should meet with the Director of the program so that your progress can be monitored.


How do I get more information?

Contact Richard Fliegel, Director of the Interdisciplinary Major program, in CAS 200, 213.740.2961,, or Tim Gustafson, Faculty Director, in THH 404, 213.740.3747,