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Associate in Arts in
Multidisciplinary Studies

Program summary

Improve your writing and communication skills to help prepare yourself to succeed in your career. Credits earned in this online liberal arts associate degree program may be applied toward a more advanced degree.

Application deadline

Apply by June 30 to start August 21

Credits and costs

60 Credits $620/$664 per credit

Broaden Your Career Opportunities with an Online Liberal Arts Associate Degree

Build a solid foundation for a future career. Increase your writing and speaking skills by taking courses in the arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, and quantification. The course work can help you prepare for a future career, or you can transfer the credits you’ve earned in the program toward a more advanced degree.

Why a Multidisciplinary Studies Degree Online at Penn State?

Customize your degree — The Associate in Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies at Penn State is a student-designed major that allows you to use elective courses to enhance your learning experience in business, history, or math.

The Penn State Difference — In this program, you will have the opportunity to study with highly regarded faculty from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, one of the premier institutions in the world to study and work in the liberal arts disciplines.

Who Should Apply?

Create opportunity — If you are interested in exploring new job opportunities or if you want to prepare for entry-level positions, a career change, or career advancement without having to set foot in a classroom, the Associate in Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies could be for you. With the broad base of knowledge, communication, and critical thinking skills you can acquire in this program, you can immediately apply what you’ve learned in your present job — and add an important credential to your résumé.


The 60-credit Associate in Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies is an excellent way to build a solid educational base and expand your career options as a working adult. In this program, you can enhance your written and speech communication skills and broaden your understanding of many subjects. You may also use the elective requirements for the degree to focus on a particular area of interest, such as business, history, or math. In addition, students in this associate degree program have ample opportunity to earn one or more related professional certificates along the way.

Contact an adviser by email or by phone at 800-252-3592 to learn more about how to reach these impressive, résumé-building milestones on your educational path to an associate degree.

The degree's 30 credits of major courses focus on writing and speaking skills, the arts, the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, and quantification. A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of "C" or better in all courses required for the major.

Prescribed Courses (6 credits)

  • 3

    Principles of communication, implemented through analysis and evaluation of messages, with some attention to formal speaking and group discussion.

    • GWS

      This course can be used to satisfy the Writing/Speaking (GWS) requirement.

  • 3

    Instruction and practice in writing expository prose that shows sensitivity to audience and purpose.

    • GWS

      The credits earned in this course may be applied toward the Writing/Speaking (GWS) requirement.

Additional Courses (select 3 credits)

Select one of the following:

  • 3

    Introduces students to the types of writing that social scientists typically do in the workplace, including research proposals, proper citation practices, literature reviews, and research reports.

  • 3

    Instruction in writing persuasive arguments about significant issues in the humanities.

    • GWS

      This course can be used to satisfy the Writing/Speaking (GWS) requirement.

  • 3

    Writing for students in scientific and technical disciplines.

    • Prerequisite

      ENGL 15, ESL 15, ENGL 30, and 4th Semester standing OR ENGL 137H, ENGL 138T, and 4th Semester standing

    • GWS

      This course can be used to satisfy the Writing/Speaking (GWS) requirement.

  • 3

    Writing reports and other common forms of business communication.

    • Prerequisite

      (ENGL 15 or ENGL 30) and fourth-semester standing

    • GWS

      The credits earned in this course may be applied toward the Writing/Speaking (GWS) requirement.

Supporting Courses and Related Areas (21 credits)

  • Any additional course designated arts (GA) — 3 credits
  • Any additional course designated humanities (GH) — 3 credits
  • Any additional course designated social and behavioral sciences (GS) — 3 credits
  • Any additional course designated natural sciences (GN) — 3 credits
  • Any combination of courses in ONE of the following areas: arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences and quantification; one foreign language — 9 credits

Elective Courses (15 credits)

Courses chosen in consultation with an adviser.

General Education Requirements

Some General Education requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 3 credits
  • Quantification (GQ): 3 credits
  • Any General Education course, including Integrative Studies (Inter-domain or Linked courses): 3 credits
  • United States Cultures (US), or International Cultures (IL) or combined designation (US; IL): 3 credits
    May be satisfied by designated courses that also meet other degree or General Education requirements.
  • Writing Across the Curriculum (W, M, X, Y): 3 credits
    May be satisfied by designated courses that also meet other degree or General Education requirements.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $620 per credit $664 per credit
12 or more $7,527 per semester $8,125 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 21
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 31 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 15, 2024, to start May 13, 2024

New students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by March 1. Please visit the Office of Student Aid website for more information about applying for financial aid and recommended deadlines.

Admissions Help

Thank you for your interest in applying to this program. Contact an admissions counselor to discuss your educational goals, financial aid options, and application deadlines.

Admission Requirements

To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate or have completed your GED. 

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need the following items to complete your application:

High school transcripts or GED transcript — First-year applicants are required to submit Self-Reported Academic Records (SRAR). Official high school transcripts will only be required at the time a student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State.

Official college or university transcripts, if you attended another institution, and/or official military transcripts (if applicable) — All college or university transcripts are required regardless of the length of time that has passed, the grades earned, or the accreditation of the institutions attended. Acceptance of transfer credit toward your degree is subject to final approval by the academic department. For detailed information, see the Transfer Students page.

Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Please send your transcripts by mail or electronically through Parchment, eScrip-Safe, or the National Student Clearinghouse directly to Penn State from the college/university where course work was attempted.

Submit official documents by mail to:

Undergraduate Admissions Office
The Pennsylvania State University
201 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Language Proficiency section on the Undergraduate Admissions International Requirements page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions. 

If this is your first time applying to Penn State, you'll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Review the application instructions before beginning.
  2. Complete the online application and submit all official documents.
  3. Pay the application fee.

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form and choosing "MyPennState — Check Application Status." Your decision letter (confirming your acceptance or denial) will be mailed four to six weeks after receipt of all application materials. An admissions counselor will contact you if additional information is required.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State associate degree?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply

Start Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this multidisciplinary studies degree program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

Earn a degree to get your foot in the door with entry-level positions or to work your way up the ladder with careers including:

  • retail or sales manager
  • purchasing agent
  • social and human service assistant
  • human resources assistant
  • administrative support specialist

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way

A figure walking on a path that includes a certificate part of the way through their progress

While earning your associate degree online, you can add credentials to your résumé by acquiring a professional certificate. Show mastery of specific subjects before your degree is complete. Thanks to shared courses across programs, students can often earn a certificate along with their degree in less time than if they earned them separately.

Certificate Programs Related to This Degree

Credit can be earned toward the following certificates while completing this degree program:

Gain practical skills to improve communications with peers, supervisors, customers, and other stakeholders in your organization to create a productive and positive work environment with this online certificate program.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Certificate in Organizational Communication  

Build a foundation in human resources — with a particular emphasis on course work that examines related policies, legal issues, and employment law — with this online certificate program in labor and human resources.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Certificate in Labor and Human Resources  

A Head Start toward a Bachelor’s Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor's Degree Programs Related to This Associate Degree

Some of the credits earned for this associate degree can be applied to the following Penn State World Campus bachelor's degree programs:

Build strong research skills and broaden your understanding of legal principles. This online degree program can help you prepare for a career in a variety of fields that require knowledge of the law and legal processes.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society  

Build a solid foundation in human resources, labor, and employment relations while focusing on humanities and social sciences. This online degree program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in organizational culture, workforce diversity, labor relations, and other HR areas.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Labor and Human Resources  

Customize your courses to meet your goals with one of the most flexible degree programs Penn State offers. Students are often able to earn one or more certificates or associate degrees while working toward their bachelor's, adding value to their resumes.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies  

Focus on reasoning and political theory as you learn to analyze domestic politics and the politics of other nations. This online program can help prepare you for a career in the growing field of political science or provide background for graduate studies.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science  

Learn to understand interpersonal interaction and implement valuable problem-solving techniques in any field you choose to enter with this online bachelor's degree program. The psychology degree course work at Penn State can provide a foundational knowledge of arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology  

Contact Us

To learn more about the Associate in Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
[email protected]


  • Stephanie Cardona

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      Ph.D., Educational Leadership, Penn State
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      M.A., English Education, University of Puerto Rico
    • Degree
      B.A., English, University of Puerto Rico

    Dr. Stephanie Cardona is an academic advising liaison and instructor with Penn State World Campus for interdisciplinary programs in the College of the Liberal Arts. A Penn Stater since 2008 living in Key West, Florida, Stephanie has been teaching in higher education for 19 years in the areas of English and composition. Her interests and skills are in the areas of curriculum development and design, qualitative research, distance learning, culturally relevant pedagogies, and immersive technologies.

  • John Kryst

    • Degree
      M.S., College Student Personnel, Western Illinois University
    • Degree
      B.A., Sociology & Social Psychology, University of Minnesota

    John Kryst is an academic adviser and instructor with Penn State World Campus in multiple College of the Liberal Arts programs. John has been with Penn State since 2012. Currently living in New York, John has lived in Minnesota, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, working in higher education since 2007. He has served many student populations in that time and is passionate about education being accessible and open to anyone seeking to learn.

  • Avis Kunz

    • Degree
      D.Ed., Adult Education, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.A., English, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.A., English, Penn State

    Dr. Avis Kunz is the senior assistant dean for Online Education and Outreach and the director of the Filippelli Institute for e-Education and Outreach in the College of the Liberal Arts. Her interests are broadly in distance learning and teaching and administration of online programs. She has more than 25 years of experience in educational administration, including community colleges, community education, adult literacy, and Penn State. 

  • Bryan McDonald

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine
    • Degree
      M.A., Political Science, Virginia Tech
    • Degree
      B.A., English, Virginia Tech

    Dr. Bryan McDonald is the director of interdisciplinary programs in the College of the Liberal Arts and an associate professor of history. Dr. McDonald is a historian of modern America with research and teaching interests in food security and food systems. He is currently working on a book project that explores the history of food as a security issue in modern America. He is the author of Food Power: The Rise and Fall of the Postwar American Food System (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Food Security (Polity Press, 2010) and the co-editor of Global Environmental Change and Human Security (MIT Press, 2009) and Landmines and Human Security: International Politics and War’s Hidden Legacy (SUNY Press, 2004). He has published more than 25 articles, book chapters, reviews, and policy documents.

  • Tycely Williams

    • Degree
      M.A., Leadership, Georgetown University
    • Degree
      B.A., Communication with minor in Journalism, Wake Forest University

    Tycely Williams is a certified fundraising executive who has led teams that have raised and managed more than $580 million. She is the chief development officer at The Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. In her career of more than 20 years, she has held C-Suite leadership positions at America’s Promise Alliance, The American Red Cross, and YWCA USA. She has extensive experience governing organizations and is an award-winning philanthropic thought leader with features in numerous publications, including The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The L.A. Times, The Nonprofit Times, and The Washington Post.

  • Andrea Woerman

    • Degree
      M.A., Education, Ashford University
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      B.A., Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara

    Andrea Woerman has worked in the field of higher education for 13 years as both an academic adviser and an instructor, specializing in adult learner and military student populations. She has seen many students through to graduation and thoroughly enjoys developing students and seeing them move their lives forward using education as a tool. Andrea considers herself a lifelong learner and is passionate about education, continuous self-improvement, and animal welfare.

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State associate degree?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply