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Broaden Your Horizons With a Bachelor's in Integrative Studies

For students looking to take an involved, interdisciplinary approach to their own education, a degree program like the Northern Kentucky University online Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Integrative Studies can be a good option. This program is designed for students who wish to tie together different areas of study according to their unique academic and professional goals. In focusing on student-led inquiry and critical thinking across interconnected disciplines, an integrative approach to education can better help  prepare students for life and work in today's complex world.

What Are the Core Components of NKU's Integrative Studies Program?

There are only three required core courses in NKU's online BA in Integrative Studies: Introduction to Integrative Studies, which covers the various areas of study students can draw on for their major design, Interdisciplinary Inquiry, and the Capstone in Integrative Studies. The purpose of these courses is to explore how multiple disciplines of study overlap, are interconnected, and inform one another. They help students learn how to think critically and creatively across interdependent subjects, focusing on both breadth and depth to consider complex multi-faceted concepts in a holistic way.

Beyond the three required courses, students in this program design their own, individualized degree plan with consultation from an academic advisor. This degree plan is based on integrating three different chosen areas of study. The degree plan is further tailored to the student's interests through electives.

Who Is the Integrative Studies Program Designed For?

As a degree program, integrative studies specifically addresses the needs of those who want to study something outside of the normal, narrow major disciplines. For instance, someone who would like to do social research concerning women's health in the global context could choose Women and Gender Studies, Sociology, and Health Sciences as their three main areas of study. Plus, they could further focus on their specific interests by taking elective courses on subjects like global viewpoints or scientific and quantitative inquiry. The flexibility and depth of NKU's integrative studies program can be great for self-directed, critically minded students.

What Has Led to the Present Day Focus on Integrative Learning?

As job markets became more competitive and skill-specific over the last few decades, higher education saw a devaluing of broad liberal arts education. Degree programs became narrower, focused on preparing students with the knowledge and skills they would need for a particular career.

Unfortunately, this narrow educational focus does not go far in developing a student's ability to think critically across subjects, which is an extremely important ability when adapting to changing environments or circumstances. Therefore, narrowly focused, job-specific education has left many people in today's workforce ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of working in the rapidly changing, globalized world.

Accordingly, many of today's leaders in education, business and government have called for a move back toward broad, interdisciplinary education that focuses on intellectual skills and integrative learning. CEOs are looking for employees who can be creative and think critically – those who can recognize and draw from different interconnected areas of thought to construct new knowledge and solve complex problems. That, in essence, is integrative learning.

NKU's online BA in Integrative Studies program offers students the flexibility and freedom to shape their education to their specific interests and goals. Moreover, it can help students develop their overall ability to analyze and combine different patterns of thought, deconstructing, reconstructing and integrating them to form new concepts. The critical thinking and problem-solving skills derived from integrative learning itself can help students adapt to and excel in the age of modern globalization.

Learn more about the NKU online BA in Integrative Studies program.


Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U): Educating for a Complex World: Integrative Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies

AAC&U: LEAP Employer-Educator Compact

AAC&U: Leading Initiatives for Integrative Learning

National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement: The Logic of Interdisciplinary Studies - Report Series 2.33

Edutopia: Why Should Schools Embrace Integrated Studies? It Fosters a Way of Learning that Mimics Real Life

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