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Rebecca Beach
Dean, Academic Services
Interdisciplinary director
(540) 362-6333

Hollins University
P.O. Box 9523
Roanoke, VA 24020

An interdisciplinary major enables a student to construct from two or more disciplines a course of study not available through one department.

With an interdisciplinary major, the possibilities for study are limited only by the student’s imagination. Possible subjects include study of a period, an idea, or a set of problems. A student may choose to study the Renaissance through courses in English, history, art and music. Or a student may choose to study human freedom through courses in philosophy, psychology, sociology and political science. Other possibilities include the study of songwriting through courses in English, creative writing and music or a major in East Asian studies through courses in Chinese, Japanese, history and political science. Other recent interdisciplinary majors include: Culture, Art and Society; Narrative Art of the Screen and Page; Linguistics; Web Design and Programming; and Uncommon Characters – Design and Development. Do you have ideas?

For the interdisciplinary major, the student works out her program of study with two advisors from different departments and presents it to the chair for approval.

The interdisciplinary major consists of at least eight courses, including a course in research methods from one of the disciplines (or an equivalent introduction to sources and a coordinating tutorial chosen in consultation with the student's two advisors.) In addition, the major requires one internship related to the area of interest. The following restrictions will apply in all cases:

  • no more than two 100-level courses will count toward the major;
  • no more than two independent studies may count toward the major;
  • at least four 300-level courses must be included in the major.

By the end of the senior year, all interdisciplinary majors will submit a capstone portfolio to the chair of the program for evaluation. The capstone portfolio must contain the following items: 1) a cover page with the student's name, class year, major title, description of the major, and names of advisors, 2) a description of career goals and plans, 3) a resume and cover letter, 4) a list of the courses taken for the major, including each course number, title, and description of how the course supports the interdisciplinary major, 5) a graded research paper from the 300-level independent study (or other 300-level course in the major), 6) a description of the internship required for the major, 7) the evaluation form from the supervisor of the required internship related to the major program of study, 8) the academic work required by the faculty sponsor of the internship, 9) a personal essay evaluating the internship related to the major program of study with respect to the student's future career or education goals.


Here are some examples of specific interdisciplinary major programs of study:

Media Production and Design
An exploration of the art of graphic design incorporating the skills of communication and uses of media in culture, photography and digital manipulation. Courses completed in fulfillment of the interdisciplinary major requirements:

  • COMM 231: Writing for the Print Media
  • COMM 235L: Media in Britain (taken at Hollins Abroad-London)
  • ART R261E: Graphic Design Reproduction (taken at Roanoke College through reciprocal agreement)
  • ART 306: Digital Photography
  • ART 350: Special Topic – Mixed Media Drawing
  • COMM 361: Media Law and Policy
  • COMM 390: I.S. – Research Methods
  • COMM 542: New Media and Network Society

Hispanic Studies
A course of study to profoundly analyze the cultures, writing and politics of Spain and Latin America. Courses completed in fulfillment of the interdisciplinary major requirements:

  • POLS 103: Modern Comparative Politics
  • COMM 270: Intercultural Communication
  • SPAN 236: Spanish Culture and Civilization
  • SPAN 238: Latin American Culture and Civilization
  • POLS 304: Geopolitics
  • POLS 337: Seminar in U.S. Foreign Policy
  • SPAN 348: Twentieth-Century Latin American Literature
  • SPAN 375: Advanced Spanish Grammar