Interdisciplinary Studies

University of California, Berkeley


The Interdisciplinary Studies Field Major (ISF) is part of the Office of Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies (UGIS) in the College of Letters and Science. It is one of many interdisciplinary programs, but only one of two (with American Studies) that requires a senior thesis of each major. ISF offers students the unique opportunity to develop an individualized cross-disciplinary Research Program that includes a Course of Study and a Senior Thesis. The Course of Study is made up of courses taken in the social sciences, the humanities, and/or the professional schools and colleges. Each student, with the help of a faculty advisor, follows a coherent Course of Study drawing on upper-division courses. Each student also, under the direction of a faculty advisor, produces a 30-40 page Senior Thesis, a sustained inquiry, based on original, cross-disciplinary research.

ISF has identified a number of Interdisciplinary Research Fields that have engendered excellent scholarship and attracted students across campus. Although ISF students may pursue other research fields identified in consultation with ISF faculty and academic advisors, the ISF Research Fields provide models and resources about scholarly interests shared by many ISF students and across campus. Research fields are dynamic bodies of knowledge that form and develop through a series of debates articulated around a given set of interdisciplinary topics, research questions, and theories. The Research Fields found on the ISF website are there to help ISF students identify their own research interests and customize their own research program and course of study.


Students must apply to the ISF Major with a well-conceived Research Program, including a proposed course of study and an intellectual justification of their proposed study. Research programs must be interdisciplinary, integrating methodological or theoretical approaches from at least three academic disciplines (departments or programs). Interdisciplinary work may be comparative, historical, regional, thematic, or problem-focused. The Research Program should not replicate an existing major.  The purpose of the ISF major is to allow undergraduates to combine work across disciplines in courses and with faculty where no other structured program exists.  Finally, the Research Program must be feasible, and the Senior Thesis must answer a manageable research question in a semester's hard work (ISF 190). Each student's proposed Research Program is discussed with and approved by a faculty advisor to assure feasibility, but the final responsibility lies with the student.

The ISF Major emphasizes the role of the faculty advisor and the student-advisor relationship. The nature of the major requires repeated elaboration of the proposed Research Program, Course of Study, and Senior Thesis that best combines students' individual research interests and the ISF program goals. Students are assigned an advisor upon acceptance into the major, although faculty members outside ISF may serve as advisors when appropriate, as approved by the ISF Director. 

Undergraduate Program

Interdisciplinary Studies: BA (Group Major)

Graduate Program

There is no graduate program in Interdisciplinary Studies.

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Contact Information

Interdisciplinary Studies Field Major Program

263 Evans Hall

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Program Director

Dylan Riley, PhD (Department of Sociology)

271 Evans Hall

Program Associate Director

Rakesh Bhandari, PhD

267 Evans Hall

Faculty Advisor

Shreeharsh Kelkar, PhD

269 Evans Hall

Faculty Advisor

Fang Xu, PhD

269 Evans Hall

Faculty Advisor

Amm Quamruzzaman, PhD

275 Evans Hall

Undergraduate Major Advisor

Michelle Herrera

263 Evans Hall

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