Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies

Major: IS
Degree Awarded: Ph.D.
Unit: GI
Program Webpage:

Program Information

The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program provides a mechanism for accommodating the interests of students and faculty in areas in which the faculty expertise is not confined to a department or individual academic unit. It permits students to establish individualized programs and groups of faculty to establish interdisciplinary tracks.

Requirements for Admission

Applicants for interdisciplinary doctoral programs must present complete admission credentials and have an approved program of study in order to be formally admitted by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies. The required credentials are:

  1. A 3.25 grade point average.
  2. Scores at or above the 60th percentile on the Quantitative, Verbal, Critical Thinking and Analytical portions of the Graduate Record Exam.
  3. Proof of a Baccalaureate Degree and official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work.
  4. International students for whom English is not their primary language must show English language proficiency by one of the following: a) TOEFL examination score at or above 550 (paper based test and a 5.0 on the TWE test), 213 (computer based test),79 (internet based test); b) IELTS test score of 6.5 or higher; c) successfully completing the exit examination for the advanced level of the Intensive English as a Second Language Program at the University of Louisville; d) demonstration of a degree award from an acceptable English language institution.
  5. Three letters of recommendation from individuals who are able to comment on the student’s academic abilities and potential for success in graduate studies.

Design of Interdisciplinary Degrees

In addition to established School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies policies and requirements, each Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program will be required to meet specific criteria as follows:

  1. The curriculum must include coursework representing each of the disciplinary areas in the interdisciplinary degree program. An overall minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate level coursework is required, but may be higher to reflect the standards for doctoral study in the disciplines represented in the interdisciplinary degree program.
  2. Each program must be designed so that it is not dominated by a single department's offerings. A minimum of six hours of 600-level course work must be taken in each of at least two different departments or programs offering graduate degrees.
  3. The curriculum plan must include coursework that provides training in research methodology deemed suitable to the interdisciplinary nature of the program.
  4. A dissertation involving original research that crosses established disciplinary lines is required.
  5. Faculty serving on committees and as mentors in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program must have a doctorate degree or substantial evidence of relevant experience and must hold membership in the Graduate Faculty of a unit.
  6. A student’s primary mentor must meet their unit’s minimum guidelines for directing doctoral dissertations. If a student’s mentor has not directed a dissertation in the past, the student must also have a co-mentor who has previous experience directing dissertations.

Individually-Designed Programs of Study

An individual interested in exploring advanced studies in a field that transcends established academic/institutional boundaries may design a program of study in consultation with a faculty steering committee and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program . A program proposal must involve course work and faculty from at least two academic departments or units and it must cross traditional disciplinary organizational structures and programmatic lines of study.

An individual interested in this program must first identify faculty willing to serve on a steering committee, which will be composed of the primary mentorand at least two additional faculty representing at least two different departments or units. Before agreeing to participate in the supervision of an interdisciplinary Ph.D. student, faculty must obtain the consent of their departmental chair or dean.

The student will work with the steering committee to develop an Interdisciplinary Program of Study which must be submitted to the Graduate Council for review and approval before the student is allowed to matriculate. The Program of Study must justify the need for an interdisciplinary program and address the potential for career placement upon degree completion.The proposal must contain a curriculum plan and a description of the qualifying exam required to advance to candidacy.

Interdisciplinary Tracks of Study: Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Concentrations

Faculty may propose interdisciplinary tracks of study that will form the basis for suitable areas of concentration to train students. The track must meet the criteria outlined above in terms of minimum credit hours and the distribution of coursework across disciplinary lines. Proposed areas of concentration and interdisciplinary tracks of study will be subject to approval by the following academic bodies: 1) Unit Curriculum and Budget Committees; 2) Graduate Council; 3) Faculty Senate; 4) Provost. The development of an interdisciplinary track is the responsibility of the faculty, but the Assistant Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies will provide assistance and guidance. Participating faculty must have the consent of their departmental chair or dean to participate in an Interdisciplinary Track. Students in a track of study must choose a primary mentor, but may have co-mentors.

Requests for further information or assistance should be addressed to:

Paul DeMarco, Ph.D.
School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies
Houchens Building, Suite 105
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky 40292
Phone: (502) 852-5110
Email: Paul DeMarco


Curriculum will be determined by a student’s steering committee during the development of each individual’s program proposal (see details above).  For an Interdisciplinary Track, a core of faculty may propose a curriculum that will form the basis for an area of concentration.


Faculty participants will be determined during the development of each individual student's program proposal.