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Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programs

In addition to some interdisciplinary academic programs that are authorized to give advanced degrees, the Graduate Dean may approve a proposal to construct an interdisciplinary doctoral program that does not fit into an existing degree plan and that may involve several graduate programs with faculty from more than one department or school.

The procedures for inaugurating an interdisciplinary doctoral program are as follows:

  1. Students must be admitted to an existing doctoral graduate program that will serve as the student's "home" program.

  2. Students interested in setting up an interdisciplinary doctoral program must first consult with the Graduate Director of their home graduate program about the desirability of pursuing this procedure and about the faculty members who might be asked to form the student's interdisciplinary committee, usually of five members. The Graduate Director in the home program should consult with the Graduate Directors of the other departments that are involved to ensure that appropriate faculty members are chosen for the student's interdisciplinary committee. Depending on the project, the chair of the student's interdisciplinary committee may be the student's faculty advisor in the home graduate program and/or a member of the Graduate Committee of the home graduate program. If the chair is from another graduate program, a co-chair from the home graduate program should be appointed.

  3. The Graduate Director, in conjunction with the chair of the proposed student's interdisciplinary committee, should call a meeting of the committee or consult with the members in writing about (a) a program of work (all completed work listed on the proposed Program of Work must have been taken within the previous six years), (b) the dissertation topic, (c) qualifying examinations, (d) additional graduate program requirements the student will be expected to fulfill, and e) a timeline for degree completion that corresponds to the national recommendations.

  4. When the members of the proposed student's interdisciplinary committee, the Graduate Director and the Graduate Committee of the home graduate program have agreed to the proposed interdisciplinary program, the Graduate Director submits the form, Application for Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program, to the Graduate School for approval. The application includes (1) a statement from the student about his or her proposed interdisciplinary dissertation topic, (2) a statement from the student's proposed supervisor explaining why such a program cannot be carried out in an existing program or can be better carried out through an interdisciplinary program, and (3) a statement from the Graduate Director describing the examinations, other requirements the student must meet before applying for candidacy including deadlines, and (4) a proposed program of work including a timeline. The Graduate Director of the home program should keep the Graduate Directors of the other departments informed about the student's program and progress.

  5. Approval of the application for an interdisciplinary doctoral program does not constitute approval of the Application for Doctoral Candidacy.

  6. The student will be required to pass a doctoral candidacy examination, the nature of which will be determined by the student's interdisciplinary committee, the Graduate Director and the Graduate Committee of the home graduate program. The student should complete the candidacy examination no later than the end of the third year of graduate study. When the student has passed the candidacy examination and any other requirements as specified in the approved application for the interdisciplinary program, the Graduate Director of the home graduate program will submit an Application for Doctoral Candidacy, using the usual forms and procedures. An outside examiner is appointed as described in the Graduate School Student Handbook. The outside examiner should be either from a department (or school) not represented on the student's committee or from another institution.

  7. As with all doctoral programs, upon satisfactory completion of the dissertation and the Final Oral, the Graduate Director of the home graduate program must certify that all requirements have been met for the degree and recommend the award of the Ph.D. to the Graduate School.

  8. Throughout this process, the student remains administratively located in the home graduate program. The student's diploma will read "Doctor of Philosophy" (as do all doctoral diplomas for the Ph.D. degree). The student's transcript will list the home graduate program as the major, but upon special request from the student, the Graduate School will direct the Registrar to add a notation regarding the interdisciplinary nature of the student's program.

  9. With this arrangement, the student's home graduate program invests authority in the student's interdisciplinary committee to oversee the student's academic conduct in the doctoral program. The home graduate program always has influence in the student's interdisciplinary committee, since its members include representatives of the home graduate program. Furthermore, the Graduate Director of the home graduate program is the point of administrative contact between the student and the student's interdisciplinary committee on the one hand, and the Graduate School on the other.

  10. An interdisciplinary doctoral program is not intended as an easier degree than one gained under the usual auspices of a graduate program, nor should it be substantially more difficult. It is the responsibility of each graduate program and student's interdisciplinary committee to ensure the quality and integrity of a doctoral degree offered under these special conditions. It is also their responsibility to ensure that the student's progress is monitored properly.

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Last Updated: 4/27/12