Karina Casillas

Major and Classification

Public Policy Management & Planning and American Studies & Ethnicity

Faculty Mentor

Gisele Ragusa, Ph.D.


Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Price School of Public Policy

McNair Project

“Workforce Prep: Student Perceptions of Subject-Centered and Multi-Disciplinary Programs”

Project Abstract

Although the reasoning for having a subject-centered education model made sense during the industrial age, the same reasoning does not apply for today. This research project explores an alternative and new replacement of the industrial age education model – the multidisciplinary program. The only dissuasion to nationwide implementation is that we do not yet know enough about multidisciplinary majors in college, since the type of program is new within the educational structure. This study explores how students define and think about such programs in relation to their workforce preparation. Two groups of students were surveyed and interviewed for this project. One group consisted of undergraduates within a subject-centered or single major program, while the other group was comprised of students within a double major program or one that is multidisciplinary in nature. Findings indicate that whereas self-identified single majors thought a double major would take longer to complete than a single major, double majors did not think this difference existed. Regardless of type of program, students perceived a difference in the range of skills required and those they learned as students in their respective programs. Students also perceived a difference in whether it was up to them to learn certain skills or up to the program to teach them those skills. Finally, also irrespective of program, students felt more prepared for the workforce when they participated in extracurricular activities. The practical implication of this research is that to best implement a multidisciplinary program of study we should pay close attention to how students interpret and think about such programs, especially considering they are the ones taking and evaluating them.