Disparate Studies Unveiled

Interdisciplinary studies — majoring in neuroscience and minoring in religion, for example — can prepare a student for grad school or a good job.
BySue Vogl

USC students have discovered that choosing majors and minors in widely different disciplines boosts their creativity — and their career choices.

In a new video, eight undergraduates talk about why they chose majors and minors in diverse academic areas. With 148 majors and 174 minors listed in the 2014-15 USC Catalogue, the combinations are endless.

USC Dornsife offers 70 majors and nearly 70 minors.

“USC really encourages you to explore your creativity,” said Morgan Furlong, who found her perfect combination of academic subjects to be international relations and playwriting. In fact, she was inspired to come to USC when her campus tour guide mentioned his “crazy” combination of major and minor. Furlong recalled that her mother turned to her and said, “That’s what you want to do.”

Matthew Prusak, who majors in international relations, and philosophy, politics and law, will spend this summer working for Nike on global strategy. During his interview for the summer job, he said, Nike officials responded favorably to his ability to understand both global commerce and the political side of business.

John Carlson said he’s excited about his ability to combine his interest in science and East Asia into a career. Carlson’s progressive degree, which consists of a B.S. in biochemistry, a B.A. in East Asian languages and cultures and an M.S. in regulatory science, led to a position in the global affairs and public policy office of a large biopharmaceutical manufacturer.

Interdisciplinary studies also are excellent preparation for graduate school. Kausar Ali, who majored in neuroscience and religion, said the combination allowed her to experience both the cultural and scientific sides of medicine. She’ll take that knowledge to medical school this fall. These students have an intellectual curiosity that can’t be satisfied by majoring in one discipline, and they praised USC for being flexible and encouraging them to choose personalized combinations.

Leowil Villaneuva, who is studying East Asian languages and cultures, international relations and Spanish, summed it up by saying, “The faculty, staff and academic advising offices do a really good job of supporting students and helping them figure out what they want to get out of their academic experience.”