Interdisciplinary college curriculum and its labor market implications

Han, Siqi; LaViolette, Jack; Borkenhagen, Chad; McAllister, William; Bearman, Peter S.

This article sheds light on how to capture knowledge integration dynamics in college course content, improves and enriches the definition and measurement of interdisciplinarity, and expands the scope of research on the benefits of interdisciplinarity to postcollege outcomes. We distinguish between what higher education institutions claim regarding interdisciplinarity and what they appear to actually do. We focus on the core academic element of student experience—the courses they take, develop a text-based semantic measure of interdisciplinarity in college curriculum, and test its relationship to average earnings of graduates from different types of schools of higher education. We observe that greater exposure to interdisciplinarity—especially for science majors—is associated with increased earnings after college graduation.

Keywords: Interdisciplinarity; higher education; income effects; measuring interdisciplinarity; curriculum


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Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics
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November 20, 2023