Interdisciplinary Studies Opens a World of Opportunities for Embry-Riddle Students

The Interdisciplinary Studies program is unique at Embry-Riddle because students can select from more than 40 different fields of study beyond the traditional aviation and engineering degrees while designing a course schedule that builds on their interests and career goals.

High school senior Sierra Hinzman was aware of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in her hometown of Daytona Beach, and knew its reputation for aviation, aerospace and engineering, but she never thought it would be an option for a career in public relations.

That is until the Father Lopez Catholic High School student discovered Embry-Riddle’s Interdisciplinary Studies program, in which  she could pursue a degree that will prepare her for her dream job in public relations working in the airline industry. She learned of the program after taking dual-enrollment courses in aeronautical science through the Gaetz Aerospace Institute at her school. The classes are taught by an Embry-Riddle adjunct professor as part of an academic partnership created by Embry-Riddle to give high school students in Florida an opportunity to receive college credit in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The Interdisciplinary Studies program in the university’s Department of Humanities and Communication, is unique at Embry-Riddle because students have the option of designing a course of study that builds on their skills and interests. Students can select from more than 40 different fields when deciding on the combination of three or more minors they wish to study.

Hinzman will enter the Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) program this fall and minor in Business Administration, Aeronautical Studies, and Communication and Broadcast Media. “I have the opportunity to create a degree that lets me study every aspect of what I want to do in my career. I’m going to be able to combine my love for science and business,” Hinzman said.

Graduates Skilled in Multiple Areas

Our Interdisciplinary Studies majors have an entrepreneurial spirit and this program supports their goal of becoming leaders in their chosen fields,” said Dr. Joanne DeTore, an associate professor of Humanities & Communication and the undergraduate program coordinator for Interdisciplinary Studies on the Daytona Beach Campus.

“When our students graduate, they are ready to adapt to ever-changing career environments because they are knowledgeable in so many different areas,” DeTore said. “Employers appreciate our IS majors because they have this broad and deep skill set.” 

Recent IS graduates are working in a variety of fields, from airlines and the space industry, to the State Department and the FBI. Alumnus Phil Larson, for example, was senior adviser in the Obama White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and worked for SpaceX before becoming assistant dean and chief of staff at the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science in February 2017. Alumna Amber Gell, a rocket scientist from Lockheed Martin and NASA, who is also an Embry-Riddle adjunct professor, is nationally recognized for her outreach in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“This degree provides students with more skills and choices, and they are sought after by businesses, industry and government agencies,” DeTore said. “Our IS degree is the perfect vehicle for students who want to explore several fields, rather than simply one.”

Carly Shoemake graduated last May with an IS degree that emphasized occupational safety, human factors, and communication. She is working for American Airlines as a fleet specialist managing and producing procedural manuals for flight crews on the Airbus A330.

“Interdisciplinary Studies allowed me to diversify my degree to meet more requirements that employers look for,” Shoemake said. “My current job is a great mix of my three minors and it’s helpful to have that background on which to build my career.”

Bitten by the travel bug, Hinzman is excited about the career and travel options she will have with the IS degree. She is also exploring the Interdisciplinary Studies program's fast-track MBA option, which allows students to earn an MBA in only five years.

To learn more about Interdisciplinary Studies and requirements, visit

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s largest, oldest and most comprehensive institution specializing in aviation, aerospace, engineering and related degree programs. A fully accredited university, Embry-Riddle is also a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. A nonprofit, independent institution, Embry-Riddle offers more than 100 associate, baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. The university educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through its Worldwide Campus with more than 135 locations in the United States, Europe and Asia, and through online programs. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at