Having structured graduate program can be highly beneficial for many, but for those individuals who seek to explore the commonalities of diverse fields of study, a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies may be more appropriate. In order to help aspiring students discover whether this path is right for them, we’ll explore the requirements and the finer elements involved in this unique interpretation of graduate study.
It’s All in How You Look at It
While a small proportion of graduate students have consistently wished to pursue a blend of diverse fields in their higher education, programs that permitted them to do this within a more regulated framework are relatively new. Such degrees have a slightly longer history at the undergraduate level, but are also still somewhat uncommon. For the completion of a Master’s or PhD program, the requirements demonstrate greater rigor and require a multitude of prerequisites, which will be outlined below.
Students can elect to blend a wide array of disciplines in this degree format, but there are a few requirements. They must have:
• A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
• A clear proposal for their plan of study
• Documented coursework completed in the proposed fields of study
However, given the satisfaction of these requirements, when a student finds the right institution in which to complete a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies, they can take their ambition to the highest level of academic achievement. The programs that are already in place are designed to be highly flexible, with a devoted retinue of interested and enthusiastic faculty members to assist the graduate students in their quest.
Since the goal of scholarly research during and beyond the run of classes is to develop and explore novel concepts and present new research, students pursuing this path have a head start on their peers. They are exploring the novel connections between two or more seemingly discrete fields, which can differ only slightly or quite substantially in subject matter.
A DIY Degree
While most graduate students spend two or more years attending classes that have been pre-selected for their degree program, students pursing an interdisciplinary degree will design their own study program. This requires more than average self-discipline and drive. Given the fascination of knowledge to this type of individual, an advisor will assist them in staying the course when it comes to choosing which classes will contribute most to their degree.
The DIY degree itself is usually comprised of 30 to 48 credit hours of study, with a thesis project acting as a capstone for the student’s time. Areas of inquiry can span between the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, or even pure Engineering. While it’s common to select two or more fields that possess commonality, such as history and philosophy or biochemistry and ethnobotany, novel pairings are neither uncommon nor disallowed. What are often encouraged additions to the course of study are a section of specifically designed interdisciplinary seminars, cultural studies, or even leadership classes to help round out and meld the other coursework into a harmonious whole.
For the driven, pure thinker or the individual seeking to bring about change within a particular field of endeavor, a prescribed path of study may not be ideal. There is too often no freedom to pursue coursework that does not adhere to the standards of the formatted degree. This is why the Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies can be so incredibly rewarding, providing the freedom and the rigor that is often sought by exceptional students.