The Journal of the AGLSP


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Interests and career collide with OU Extended Campus Master of Arts - Integrated Studies


Students who are educated in two or more skill sets are finding they are more marketable in a number of career fields. OU Extended Campus’ new Master of Arts with a Major in Integrated Studies was created to give students this advantage, and to create a way for them to study the topics they are most passionate about.

The 33-hour, 100% online program is a fast-paced, accelerated degree option designed to accommodate working adults, and it serves as an excellent complement to OU Extended Campus’ award-winning undergraduate integrative studies program.

Students can choose from tracks in Diversity, Interdisciplinary Research Methods, or Volunteerism and Social Entrepreneurship. There is also a Self-Design track; however, this track is highly competitive, and students must apply to be accepted into this specialized option. The Self-Design track is the only option that requires a thesis. 

Each track offers a variety of relevant and engaging courses particular to its area of study. Depending on which track students choose, they will become more effective leaders, learn the skills necessary to analyze and evaluate issues in volunteer management, become prepared to pursue an interdisciplinary doctoral program, or further their research interests. These skills will prepare them to excel in a number of careers, including education, volunteer management, nonprofit work, social entrepreneurship, and more.

Rob Vollmar, an Integrated Studies student, chose the program because it offers the same robust interdisciplinary core he experienced as an undergraduate. Continuing his education in a program that encouraged growth in those same skill areas while allowing him to dictate the disciplinary parameters of his research was imperative. 

“I had always told myself that I wouldn’t pursue another degree unless it allowed me to research something that was truly important to me. When I began independently researching the fragility of the industrial food system, I realized that it was an interdisciplinary problem in need of interdisciplinary solutions,” Vollmar said. “Also, as someone with a full-time job, being able to pursue this degree online has made it possible to continue to contribute monetarily to my household while taking a full class load. It’s a lot of hard work, but I love what I’m doing so it feels like a labor of love.”

The self-design track offers him the credibility to write on topics of humanitarian concern, as well as the confidence to know the information he’s providing is based on rock-solid scholarship and ethical research. He hopes to use what he’s learning to guide others toward making better choices in how we produce, distribute, and consume food, whether that means working for a policy think tank, starting a nonprofit organization, or writing books and articles.

“I already feel empowered by immersion in the most current thinking and data on food security and can’t wait to start work on my thesis,” he said.

Steve Gullberg, lead faculty for the OU Extended Campus School of Integrative and Cultural Studies, said the new program allows students to mesh their interests with their career ambitions, tailoring a degree that helps them best reach their goals.

“This is an exciting new graduate program because of how it’s structured,” Gullberg said. “Working with their advisors, students can choose the track that’s most appealing to them. The opportunity to complete the program online allows students to keep their jobs and get a degree that’s not widely offered.”

Combining theoretical perspectives from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities, this interdisciplinary program guides students toward understanding complex problems as they enhance their research and communication skills in the areas they enjoy. All courses are 16 weeks long. Advisors are available to help students select the number of courses to take each semester, as well as what course are most relevant to their goals and interests.

Visit the OU Extended Campus website to learn more or find out if this degree is right for you.