UMO Launches New Liberal Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies Degree

UMO Launches New Liberal Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies Degree

MOUNT OLIVE – The University of Mount Olive will launch a new bachelor’s degree this fall.  The liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree will be offered through the School of Arts and Sciences.  This 126 semester hour degree will offer students the opportunity to strengthen their communication and critical-thinking skills and gain an insightful world view.

Dr. David Hines, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said, “The liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree is not for the person who does not know what he or she wants to do.  Rather it is rather for the person that knows what he or she wants to do and cannot find a traditional program to fit that need.”

According to Hines, the degree breaks down the barriers between humanities and social sciences, providing students a broad educational foundation that will be required in 21st century careers.  “One of the real challenges in higher education,” Hines added, “is preparing students for jobs that do not currently exist. Technology is exploding. A narrowly focused curriculum will not equip students with the skills to adapt to a changing work environment. Regardless of the specifics of future careers, there will be no substitutes for the ability to think creatively and critically, the skill to work collaboratively, and the knack for effective communication”. The liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree core will foster these skills and help students to examine the insights from the social and physical sciences, history, literature, and religion.

Hines encourages students interested in the program to ask themselves, “Do my interests extend beyond a narrowly focused degree?  Am I looking for a degree that can be personally enriching as well as enhancing career options?  Am I interested in discovery and understanding of the world around you in more profound ways?”  Hines said, “Often colleges and careers require individuals to specialize and narrow their focus, yet to understand the complexities of the real world students must reach beyond established boundaries.”

Dr. Robert Fisher, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and a big proponent for the new degree program, said, “A strength and attraction of the liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree major,  is the many options it provides for students to organize a study program that is both personally interesting and professionally relevant. Moreover, such a major sharpens awareness of art, history, philosophy, and technology and the impact of these disciplines on contemporary issues. In doing so, the liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree increases students’ abilities to think and to communicate clearly.”

Fisher went on to note that many individuals also use the degree to improve their current employment standing. “In addition to receiving significant and positive life changes as a result of a liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree, these graduates report pay raises and promotions as tangible benefits to receiving their degree,” he said.

The University of Mount Olive has many areas in which courses are offered to prospective liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies students that form the basis for the development of a student’s ability to examine issues in a critical manner.  The core courses for the liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree insure a student will develop their analytical and evaluative abilities in several areas. A few examples are the requirement to take courses in philosophy, art, biology, religion, and sociology, psychology, or criminal justice.

Fisher adds, “Small classes with dedicated faculty mean that all students will have the opportunity to pursue individual interests while learning the concepts and skills employers expect.”

When asked how the UMO program differs from other liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree programs at similar institutions, Fisher said, “In designing this degree program, the committee examined numerous programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States.  One thing that seemed to be prevalent was that most of these programs limited students in their pursuit of specific areas of concentrated study.  While there was great diversity in courses required, many programs left little ability for individual design in the education process.  We decided that by working in coordination with a student to develop their area of interest, a concentration could be created that provided the student with all of the advantages of a liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies emphasis, and still allow them a degree of specialization in an area of interest.”

For more information about the liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree program, contact Dr. Fisher at or the Admissions Office at 919-658-2502.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit