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Degree Completion

Four reasons to major in Integrated Studies


By Justin D. Klassen

College students often feel pressure to choose the “perfect” major, that one field of study aligned with the latest career trends, which promises the highest earnings after graduation. But trends change constantly and unpredictably, as do market demands for particular skills. Recent studies show that most of today’s students will change jobs and even careers several times over the course of their lifetimes, regardless of which major they choose. The only certainty, it seems, is uncertainty. This illuminates the first great reason to major in Integrated Studies.

1. A degree in Integrated Studies prepares students to adapt to varied circumstances in a complex and dynamic world.

Rather than focusing on a single discipline, Integrated Studies majors choose courses from a variety of areas including arts, humanities, and social sciences. By emphasizing breadth, the program immerses students in many ways of seeing and understanding their world, preparing them to engage constructively in meaningful work across a variety of career fields. That's why Bellarmine University had developed Integrated Studies programs for traditional, undergraduate students and  students who have some college credits and would like to complete their degrees. Both programs are designed to prepare students for their unique career goals.   

Another problem with the pressure many students feel to choose a single specialization is that trending fields may not always reflect their own natural interests. An important component of a college education is self-discovery and the deepening of one’s own passions. This brings us to a second reason to major in Integrated Studies.


2. The Integrated Studies program allows students to choose their own path to completion.

Beyond a few established parameters, no two Integrated Studies degrees look the same. Each student designs their own course of study, building their degree by selecting classes in diverse fields. This means that whether you want to pursue interests in music and psychology, or communication and economics (or something else entirely!), you will find a home in the Integrated Studies program.

But wait a minute, don’t employers in the latest professional fields want to hire specialists? This belief is understandable. How, we wonder, can we excel at the job we are seeking unless we spend all our time and effort studying that one thing? But the facts do not bear out this assumption. In surveys of CEOs, what we actually see is a strong demand for liberal arts graduates, rather than specialists. Why? Because CEOs know that the main ingredient to success is the ability to collaborate with others and see things from more than one perspective. Every job requires working with others, and as TV's character Ted Lasso says, “Every person is a different person.” This reveals a third reason to major in Integrated Studies.


3. Breadth of learning prepares students for successful relationships in a diverse world.

When you examine the world through a variety of disciplinary lenses, you challenge yourself to recognize its complexity, to admit that not everyone will see things the way you do. You become energized rather than terrified by approaches to life that differ from your own, and prepared to invest in relationships in work and life with compassion and creativity. Nothing could be more valuable to employers.

The final problem with thinking of any one discipline as the secret key to success is that it risks reducing our educational journey to, well, a key to success. But education is about much more than a transaction or a calculation. Education ought to prepare us for lives of meaning and purpose, and indeed, for lifelong learning. This highlights a fourth and final reason to consider a major in Integrated Studies.


4. The Integrated Studies program prepares students to seek meaning and truth throughout their lives.

Bellarmine’s motto is “in Veritatis Amore” or “in the love of truth.” It works well as a motto, not simply because truth will make us successful, but because truth is trustworthy both when we succeed and when we inevitably fail. Due to its breadth, graduates of the Integrated Studies program encounter questions about life’s truth and meaning and collect a range of resources for responding to them, resources that will prepare them not just for successful careers, but for all of life’s many challenges and joys.


If you’re a traditional, first-year student, click here to learn more about Bellarmine’s Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Studies.

If you’re an adult student with prior college credit interested in completing your degree, click here to learn more about Bellarmine’s accelerated online Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Studies Degree Completion Program.

Justin D. Klassen is Associate Professor of Theology and Chair of Liberal Studies at Bellarmine University.

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Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.