Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) Major

Students pursuing an academic major through the Marlboro Institute complete an Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) program of their own design around a coherent idea or set of questions. It is crafted to uphold Marlboro College’s distinctive educational promise that students can craft their own education, engage in self-directed inquiry, and bring a big idea to life from conception to execution. Students will combine liberal arts courses from across the College, integrating professional studies courses if desired, in a program of their own design that culminates in a year-long senior capstone project centered on a coherent idea or complex problem that sparks their interest and that integrates learning across their chosen disciplines. Building on Emerson’s strong foundation in the liberal arts and Marlboro College’s long standing legacy of self-designed education, the IDS Major provides the support students need to carve their own interdisciplinary paths and to design their own unique program of study in close collaboration with faculty across the College. It emphasizes Marlboro College’s values of self-directed learning, project-based inquiry, and creative and critical thinking desired by students and employers alike.

Rooted in Marlboro College’s vision, students in the IDS program are supported through a four-year curriculum tailored to self-designed and project-based inquiry. Lower-level courses are oriented to intellectual exploration and academic flexibility, while upper-level courses are designed to support students as they execute their self-designed majors, culminating in a year-long capstone experience in the senior year.

Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Program (IDIP)

Separate and distinct from the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) major above, and even with the multitude of arts and communication majors and minors from which to choose, already matriculated students occasionally have a vision that cannot be adequately realized within these offerings. The Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Program (IDIP) allows students to design their own major by combining courses from two or more academic departments, or a department and the Institute, around a well-defined area of interest.

Students design an IDIP in consultation with the Office of Academic Advising and faculty members from the different departments where the coursework is based. A student’s course plan for the major must include a minimum of 44 credits for the BA or the BS. Because IDIPs usually involve the completion of prerequisites in more than one department, students are allowed to include up to 52 credits in the major. To be eligible, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of application, and they must complete a petition for an IDIP and have it approved by the faculty review committee not before the end of the second semester of the freshman year and no later than the beginning their junior year. 

The Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Studies Program (IDIP) is available to students who matriculated in Fall 2020 or earlier. Students who matriculate in Fall 2021 or later who are interested in such a program should pursue the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) major.

For more information about application procedure and deadlines, students should contact The Office of Academic Advising at 617-824-7876 or advising [at]

Learn about the process

I found myself stuck between two very different majors and knew I would need both to embark on a very specific career path. My IDIP allows me to learn not only the nuances of making great films, but also how to bring them to the masses.