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Associate in Arts inMultidisciplinary Studies

Program summary

Learn to express ideas orally and in writing while gaining a broad foundation in the liberal arts. Credits earned in this online associate degree program may be applied toward a wide variety of more advanced degrees.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by October 31 to start January 13

Credits and costs

60 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Gain In-Demand Soft Skills with Real-World Uses

  • Develop reasoning and critical thinking skills, as well as the insight needed to analyze written documents, situations, and people.

  • Apply theory to create a persuasive point of view.

  • Employ mass and interpersonal communication skills to clearly convey argued points to a target audience.

  • Create and deliver documents via various electronic media, with attention to message content, page layout, and graphical elements.

Create Your Own Learning Path by Customizing Your Degree and Course List

This multidisciplinary, student-designed major allows you to gain a well-rounded liberal arts education that can broaden your knowledge of various topics. 

Elective courses and general education courses, meant to customize your learning experience to meet your aspirations, can be in areas of interest such as business, history, or math.

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.

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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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.

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

A multidisciplinary studies degree can give you the ability to work in a broad range of positions and meet your career goals. Earn a degree to get your foot in the door with entry-level positions or to work your way up the ladder in 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

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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 

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 October 31 to start January 13. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

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.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

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.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

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 others 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 labor policies, legal issues, and employment law — in 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

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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

Your course work can help you prepare for a future career, or you can transfer the credits you earn in the program toward a more advanced degree such as:

Build strong research skills and broaden your understanding of the law as a social institution. 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

Embrace deeper learning as you build connections between subjects that excite you. This online bachelor’s degree program is a student-designed, theme-oriented major that can be customized to fit your unique interests and career goals.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies

Develop a deep understanding of politics and government, and gain skills to critically analyze political institutions, processes, and behavior. This online political science degree program can help prepare you for a career in the political science field or provide background for graduate studies.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Learn about human behavior, how it is studied, and how psychology impacts almost every area of society to help us understand our interactions with others. This online psychology degree can help you acquire research, analytical, and writing skills that are valuable across a variety of job sectors.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Leverage Your Prior Learning Experience

If you have military experience, prior college credits, or have been a part of the workforce, this program can help you leverage those experiences and get a jump start on some of your requirements.

A Well-Rounded Education for the 21st Century

This liberal arts degree program emphasizes a broad education that can prepare you for the complex social, cultural, and organizational issues that you may face in most leadership positions.

Set Your Own Pace

Adult student doing course work online while a child plays nearby

Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Degree in One to Two Years

  • Take 4–5 courses each semester

To Finish Your Degree in Three or More Years

  • Take 2–3 course each semester

 

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by October 31 to start January 13

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by October 31 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by March 15 to start May 19
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by June 30, 2025, to start August 25, 2025

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.

Steps to Apply

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

  2. 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) when applying. Official high school transcripts for first-year applicants will only be required at the time a student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State.

    Transfer international students will need to submit their high school transcript before their application can be reviewed.

    Official college or university transcripts 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.

    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.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. Accessing MyPennState

    The MyPennState Portal provides access to our online admissions services. Before accessing MyPennState, you must have a Penn State account that will be used to access all Penn State systems. After creating an account, you will receive a unique Penn State User ID. You will need to enter your User ID followed by @psu.edu when signing in to MyPennState and other Penn State sites. For example, you should be entering something like '[email protected]' in the Sign In field.

    The application consists of six sections:

    1. Application Setup
    2. Program of Study
    3. Citizenship and Residency
    4. Academics and Experience
    5. Miscellaneous
    6. Review and Submit
    Application Setup
    • Be sure to select "Online" for the "How would you like to complete your degree" question if you plan to attend Penn State World Campus.

    • The rest of this section will ask some basic questions about your education experience and military affiliation.

    Program of Study
    • You will choose the degree type and then the starting semester.

    • Your starting campus will be selected as Penn State World Campus by default as long as you picked "Online" in your Application Setup. Click Continue.

    • On the Choose a Program page, select your intended major from the list.

    • Review your selection on the summary screen and click Continue to move on to the Citizenship and Residency section.

    Citizenship and Residency
    • Complete the series of questions about your citizenship status, demographic information, Pennsylvania residency status, and family history.

    Academics and Experience
    • You will need to enter academic experience information about your high school and any attempted courses at a college or university after high school.

    • The Education Gap Statement offers a place to explain any time that has elapsed between your high school graduation and your anticipated enrollment at Penn State. Please provide a summary of why that gap occurred. Some examples that would explain a gap in your education include work, family, attending another college or university, etc.

    Miscellaneous
    • In the Miscellaneous section, you will provide any program-specific requirements (e.g., a personal statement), information about activities, and financial aid information.

    Review and Submit

    Review your information, digitally sign your application, and provide payment for the application fee ($65 domestic or $75 international).

    High School Transcripts and Academic Record
    • After your application is completed, you will also need to self-report your high school course work before the application deadline. You will be directed to fill out the Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR). It is helpful to have a high school transcript available when completing this section. In the third section, you'll select your program of study and campus.

    • Official high school transcripts or GED transcript, along with records from high school, are required, regardless of the length of time that has passed.

    • Include any college/university transcripts (required), military transcripts, and Proof of English Language proficiency (if applicable). SAT/ACT scores are not required if you are identified as an adult learner or transfer student.

    All official documents should be sent to: 

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

    You can also have your transcripts sent electronically through Parchment, eScript-Safe, or the National Clearinghouse directly to Penn State from the college/university where course work was attempted.

    Acceptance

    After receiving your application, application fee, and all required materials, your application will be evaluated for admission. You can check your application status online. This will provide the most up‐to‐date information about the status of your application and is updated once daily, before 8:00 a.m. (ET). Once a decision has been made regarding your application, it will be available to you through the MyPennState portal.

    For information on when you can expect an admissions decision, visit the Dates and Deadlines page of the Undergraduate Admissions website. Make sure you click the "+" sign to see these dates for World Campus Applicants (First-Year and Transfer).

  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

Customer service representative wearing a headset

Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Associate in Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies, please contact:

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

Learn from the Best

Penn State's faculty members in the College of the Liberal Arts are committed to creating a first-class learning environment for their students, no matter where in the world they are.

Our professors and instructors are experts in their disciplines and fields of practice, and you'll benefit from their years of experience. The faculty understand that you may have competing demands on your time — a full-time job or family responsibilities — and they can work with you to make sure you are getting the most from your Penn State education while still meeting your other commitments, giving you the confidence you need to take the next step in life.

Faculty

  • Stephanie Cardona

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Educational Leadership, Penn State
    • Degree
      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, andThe Washington Post.

  • Andrea Woerman

    • Degree
      M.A., Education, Ashford University
    • Degree
      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 October 31 to start January 13. How to Apply