Millersville University has entered a new era of study and learning. The University now offers an innovative undergraduate major in multidisciplinary studies (MDST), a program of study that permits students, under close faculty supervision, to customize their major. Within a structured curriculum, the MDST major is centered in the arts and sciences and includes 39 credit hours of interdepartmental study and a capstone experience. It is one of only a few similar programs in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Dennis Downey

“Usually drawn from two or more departments or areas of knowledge, this program will have broad appeal to students seeking specialized skills or core competencies that will prepare them for career placement or graduate study,” explained Dr. Dennis Downey, coordinator of the MDST.  “The MDST major encourages cross-disciplinary inquiry and collaboration, combined with the practical knowledge and skills needed to succeed in diverse professional fields.”

Current student Danielle Difilippo is entering the new major. “I am interested in the program primarily because it allows me to take classes that I am interested in and will increase my knowledge in certain areas that will help me out in the future,” said Difilippo. “I want to work with children and be a coach, so this lets me set up two cores that involve wellness & sport sciences and child development classes. In the job market, I would be able to use this in many ways. It will allow me to apply for a variety of jobs because I have a major that covers many interests.”

Dr. Vilas Prabhu, provost and vice president of academic affairs, who was instrumental in shepherding the new major through approvals said, “This new major allows us flexibility that we never had before. It meets the needs of our individual sudents as well as corporate and community needs.”

Parth Patel is another student interested in the new major who is designing a program around student affairs. “Because this degree allows for a flexible curriculum, the student gets to decide what he/she wants to make their focus area. This is where the MDST degree separates itself from all other degrees. Students get to create their dreams through this major and have the support of an accredited and well regarded university.”

Proposals may be initiated in two ways: by students working in close collaboration with the program coordinator and faculty advisors, or by groups of faculty interested in exploring novel areas of study beyond the traditional departments. All students in the major earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Two concentrations in the new major have already gone through a review process and been “Applied Disability Studies brings to us not only opportunities to teach and learn but engagement in diverse communities,” said Dr. Thomas Neuville, who helped develop the disability studies concentration. “The combination of academic traditions of learning and research acting in concert with voices and practice for social change has a richness to be appreciated for years to come.”

“The concentration in Environmental Hazards and Emergency Management provides an opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers in emergency management and related fields to complete a focused academic program that includes the critical applied experiences,” said Dr. Sepi Yalda, director of the Center for Disaster Research and Education. “Careers in emergency management have been included on the lists of the best 50 careers, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows employment to grow by 22 percent by 2018, which is a significant growth compared with many other fields.”

Students and faculty interested in the new major should contact Downey at or 872-3924.


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  1. Dr. Downy, you sure do keep yourself busy. Best wishes with this new degree program!

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