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Welcome to the Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs at The University of Montana

The University of Montana promotes interdisciplinary thinking at two levels, the Master’s of Interdisciplinary Studies (M.I.S.) and the Individualized Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program (I.I.P.). These degrees offer the opportunity for students to tailor their educational journeys to fit their personal and professional interests. The degrees are managed and awarded by the Graduate School through the Interim Director of Interdisciplinary Studies, Dr. Blakely Brown.

News and Events

Current Graduate Students in the M.I.S. and I.I.P. programs

Once a semester, students have an opportunity to meet with other students in their program and the Director. These “Meet and Greet” opportunities are scheduled for the second Friday of the semester. Upcoming dates for this event are September 5th, 2014 and February 6th, 2015. Please check your official university email at the beginning of the semester for more information.


Starting Spring 2014, the Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs will host an annual informal gathering for Faculty serving on M.I.S. and I.I.P. committees. This provides networking opportunity as well as an opportunity to talk with the Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs. The meeting will take place in the fourth Friday of the Fall semester starting Fall 2014. The first meeting will be February 21st, 2014. Afterwards, scheduling will be for Fall semesters, with the upcoming date being September 19th, 2014.  


The February 7th, 2014 "Meet and Greet" was divided into an M.I.S. session and an I.I.P. session. We had 1 M.I.S. student and 5 I.I.P. students. Students talked about how their semester is going, and I.I.P. students talked about forming supportive co-horts and interacting with other doctoral students. They also shared stories about being interdisciplinary students amid other graduate students. They were given handouts with student information that will be sent to all active M.I.S. and I.I.P. official university email. Thank you all for making this third "Meet and Greet" a success.


Dr. Blakely Brown - Interim Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs -

Dr. Raquel Arouca - Post-doc Intern and Assistant of Dr. Blakely Brown, also IIP graduate -

Featured Student


Reuben C. Darlington (M.I.S.) has a bachelor's degree in Physics. He is working on his M.I.S. focusing on Physical Oceanography Instrumentation. He is looking into a milifluidic pH sensor to implement on the Global Drifter Program; a low cost pH sensor with high precision and accuracy for open sea measurements. His interests include engineering, oceanography, physics, and astronomy. Reuben is working with Dr. Mike DeGrandpre (Oceanographer), Dr. J.B. Alexander Ross (Chemistry), Dr. Bradley Layton (Applied Computing and Eletronics Energy Technology), and James C. Beck, M.S.Mechanical Engineering (Sunburst Sensors LLC). 

Featured Alumnus

Joseph A. Garcia graduated in July 2008 with his M.I.S. Here is what he has to say about the degree:

"The year I graduated was the beginning of the recession, so employment has been a major concern for everyone since.  Having multiple areas of expertise has allowed me to stay employed within my field and continue to pursue career goals in both the private and public sectors.  I am currently a Park Ranger with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where I use both my science and art skills to accomplish my work tasks. Without an Interdisplinary Degree I would not have been able to have my skills and knowledge utilized fully, and may have not been able to achieve a degree.  As a kid with learning disabilities I never thought I had any talent or intelligence but the MIS degree gave me the opportunity to work around my disabilities and prove myself wrong.  Professor Stanley was instrumental in my introduction to science and scientific illustration; with his guidance I learned to read rocks as if they were books, see fossils as if the creature was there alive before me.  I was no longer the guy who would never be able to spell correctly, I was the guy who could illustrate time, and teach others about the earth." 

You can see Joseph's illustrations at, and read more about his work at


Getting ready to graduate? Don't forget to check graduation requirements here.

            Commencement ceremony: There are two options for Commencement ceremonies for MIS and IIP students: the general commencement for the university and individual ceremonies housed by the student’s chair’s department. For other arrangements, please contact the graduate school 243-2572 one month prior to graduation to discuss it with the Director.

Frequently Asked Questions

From Students:

1. How often should I meet with my committee?

Your committee is your department. You should be in touch with them at least once a semester. Please make sure to ask the committee how often they would like updates for the whole committee and/or when you should communicate just with your Committee Chair. It is important that both you and your committee are clear on how these communications will happen and that they are up-to-date on your progress.

2. I am unable to take classes next semester, what should I do?

First, talk with your Committee Chair and/or the whole committee about the situation. The Graduate School has a continuous registration policy, therefore, you will need to file a Leave of Absence. Please follow the procedure delineated on the Graduate School website.

3. Ops! Some of my proposed coursework or other information from my proposal for the M.I.S. or I.I.P. are no longer feasible. Who should I talk to?

The first step is to talk with your whole committee. When the committee comes to an agreement on the next course of action, they should contact the Interim Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs and inform her of the situation. Your chair or one of your co-chairs shoudl send a memo to the Director with the changes.

From Faculty:

1. How does an M.I.S./I.I.P. committee works?

Each M.I.S. and I.I.P. committees are different. There are some things you should keep in mind: you are the department for the student you are mentoring, and most members of the committee come from different departments. Each committee should decide how they will proceed and discuss with the student what his/her expectations of each member of the committee should be. Some committees may want an update every semester on how the student is progressing sent to all members. Some might ellect to have the chair and the student work closely together and be informed when the student is ready to defend. So, have this conversation early on with your student and among the members of the committee and set the procedure that will govern the interaction for the future.

2. Who confers the degree?

The degree is awarded through the Graduate School.

3. My student is asking me about graduation ceremonies. Now what?

Some Committee Chairs have included their students in his/her department's individual ceremonies. Check with your Department chair about that possibility. The other option would be to contact the Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs one month prior to graduation in order to discuss other options.

4. Who to I go to if I have questions?

Please contact Dr. Blakely Brown or Dr. Raquel Arouca if you have other questions about the M.I.S. or I.I.P. procedures. There will also be an annual gathering for Faculty serving in both programs on the fourth Friday of the fall semester.