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Interdisciplinary Studies

Program Description

The interdisciplinary studies programs allow students to work with faculty in the design of a graduate curriculum tailored to their unique academic, creative and professional needs. Because of the unusual nature of these programs, they carry a number of special admission and programmatic limitations that are described in this section. These degrees are not offered online.

Degrees Offered - (M.I.S and Ph.D)

Program   Degree Offered
Interdisciplinary Studies M.I.S.
Individualized Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program Ph.D.

M.I.S. Interdisciplinary Studies


The MIS program allows students, in consultation with faculty, to combine the curricula of two or more programs from this university to produce a hybrid. Students need to demonstrate how the different disciplines would work together to form an interdisciplinary approach.

1. Requirements

  • 36 credits, comprehensive exam or one of three options:
    • A professional paper
    • Three short critical papers that show creative work
    • A paper accepted in a nationally recognized journal
  • OR 30 credits, comprehensive exam and a thesis.

2. Admissions

M.I.S Application Materials and Deadline in the Graduate School is three weeks prior to the beginning of each semester. Applications received after this date will be considered on a space available basis.

Instructions for applying to the Graduate School are in the Applying for Admission section on this web site. An overview of the M.I.S. application process is found in the Programs section on this website.

  • GRE score with a test date that is within the past five years OR verifiable GRE scores if the test date is over five years old.
  • The TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB are also required of international applicants and can substitute for the GRE.
  • Note: the student must have developed a plan of study in consultation with their faculty committee before submitting an application.


3. Establishing a Program Committee

  • All prospective applicants must first consult with the Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs before beginning the application process. To set up an appointment with the Interdisciplinary Programs Director please contact Isa Atkinson at the Graduate School, her phone number is 243-2572.
  • It is highly recommended that the applicant spend at least a term of enrollment at The University of Montana either as a non-degree graduate student or as a student admitted to an existing graduate degree program. Experience has shown that it is nearly impossible for a student to find members of a committee and negotiate a program of study from a distance.
  • The student must seek out and identify a prospective graduate committee of at least three university faculty who are willing to serve.  Each discipline in the proposed interdisciplinary program will be represented in the committee.
  • In consultation with the chair and other members of the committee, the applicant will articulate a clear set of goals for the program and a curriculum plan, listing each course the student will take in the degree program.  This degree plan should strike a rough balance of work among the various disciplines represented.
  • Half of the credits (excluding up to 10 semester credits for thesis or research courses) must be at the 500 or 600 level. No more than 6 credits at the 400 UG level may be used for the degree.

Please download the folloing diagram to better understand the  M.I.S. Admissions Process.

 

4. Additional Application Materials
In order to apply for the M.I.S., download the check list of material requirements for the program. All items in the checklist are requirements for the program.

MIS Check List

 

5. Admission Recommendation

  • Before the committee members and the department chairs sign their approval of the student's curriculum, they must review the student’s entire admission file, including transcripts, standardized test scores, curriculum plan and letter of intent.
  • The prospective graduate committee will be the student's surrogate department and will meet and discuss the student's application materials. The prospective committee will then submit those materials, letters of commitment and signed Departmental Recommendation Cover Sheet to the Graduate School.

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Ph.D. Individualized Interdisciplinary Program (IIP)

The IIP is not as focused on combining disciplines as the MIS program, but in allowing the student to bring forward a problem or series of problems to research. The student must seek out faculty with the resources and expertise to assist them in defining and executing the research goals and the skills and competencies needed to reach those goals. The IIP requires a student who is highly motivated, has a focused goal/research project in mind and is able to actively participate in his/her educational process. For more information on the history and admissions processes for the IIP please download the IIP Prospectus.

 

1. Requirements 

  • 45 credits beyond the master's degree, comprehensive exam and a dissertation.

2. Admissions

IIP Application Deadlines: 

  • Fall - Complete application packet must be received in the Graduate School by April 1.
  • Spring - Complete application packet must be received in the Graduate School by November 15.

 Instructions for applying to the Graduate School are in the Applying for Admission section on this web site. An overview of the I.I.P. application process is found in the Programs section on this website.

  • Applicants to the IIP must have a master's degree or equivalent degree program of study that includes at least 30 credit hours of graduate work and a minimum GPA of 3.5.
  • GRE scores with a test date that is within the past five years OR verifiable GRE scores if the test date is over five years old are acceptable.
  • The TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB are also required of international applicants and can substitute for the GRE.
  • Note: the student must have developed a plan of study in consultation with their faculty committee before submitting an application to the chair of their committee.

3. Establishing a Program Committee

  • All prospective applicants must first consult with the Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs before beginning the application process.  To set up an appointment with the Interdisciplinary Programs Director please contact Isa Atkinson at the Graduate School, her phone number is 243-2572.
  • It is highly recommended that the applicant spend at least a term of enrollment at The University of Montana either as a non-degree graduate student or as a student admitted to an existing graduate degree program. Experience has shown that it is nearly impossible for a student to find members of a committee and negotiate a program of study from a distance.
  • The student must must seek out and identify a prospective graduate committee of at least 5 university faculty who are willing to serve.
  • Faculty do not officially become members of the student's program committee until the Graduate School admits the student.
  • All members of the doctoral IIP committee must hold a doctorate degree or the equivalent of the terminal degree in their field - one member must be from a doctoral program. The Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs or the Director’s designee from a doctoral program will serve as an ex officio (non-voting) member of the committee.
  • The chair of the student's committee will be the principal advisor throughout the program, and must be from a discipline that offers a graduate degree. Chairs must be proactive in keeping the collaborative function of the committee together; they serve as a student advocate and must be available for the student, as well as clearly understand the IIP process.
  • In consultation with the chair and other members of the committee, the applicant will articulate a clear set of goals for the program and a curriculum plan, listing each course the student will take in the degree program as well as the relevancy to the IIP. The curriculum plan for the IIP will likely contain less enrollment in existing courses, but will have more independent study, internship, and research credits. Half of the credits (excluding up to 10 semester credits for dissertation or research courses) must be at the 500 or 600 level.
  • Students must present to all proposed committee members GRE scores, transcripts, letter of intent, and letters of recommendation before faculty can serve.
  • The prospective IIP committee members will work with the student in developing a list of objectives, which are skills and competencies needed to meet the research or professional goals of the student. Along with each objective articulated will be an assessment plan that will be indicators of achieving the objective.
  • The prospective IIP committee member will work with the student in developing a relevant Research Plan with, at minimum, PhD level research questions.
  • The prospective IIP committee members will work with the student in developing the requirements for a comprehensive exam, including a time frame for when it fits into the student's program.
  • The student's curriculum plan must include two seminars that may not be taken in the same semester:
    • IIP Seminar (2 credits) - Topical subjects selected by IIP students and faculty (to build an IIP cohort);
    • Campus Seminar (2 credits) - Offered by any graduate program on the UM - Missoula campus
  • Applications must contain letters of commitment from faculty members that agreed to serve on the student's committee. The letters include a statement about the value and rigor of the student's proposal, their willingness to participate in the collaborative effort and their specific areas of expertise and how this strengthens the students IIP program of study and dissertation project(s).

Please download the following diagram to help you better understand the IIP Admissions Process.

 

4. Additional Application Materials

In order to apply for the I.I.P., download the check list of material requirements for the program. All items in the checklist are requirements for the program. Download the checklist here.

You may also download more information about how to Submit a Successful IIP Application which will provide more detailed instructions on how to complete the checklist.

5. Admission Process and Recommendation

  • Before the committee members and the department chairs sign their approval of the student's curriculum, they must review the student’s entire admission file, including transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation IIP proposal. An IIP proposal will include Academic and Professional goals with articulation of skills and competencies that match the stated goals; Relevant research plan with a statement of the research problem(s) and methodology; Curriculum plan with proposed courses, their description and relevancy to the IIP; Assessment Plan with a timeline of completion stages and description of student’s Comprehensive Exam.
  • The prospective graduate committee will be the student's surrogate department and will meet and discuss the student's application materials and submit those materials and an admission recommendation to the Graduate School.
  • The Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs will coordinate and attend meetings with the student and their committee Chair, the student and their full committee, and the student, committee Chair and the IIP Admissions Chair before the application is finalized.
  • A student is not eligible for the IIP if the applicant tried and failed to achieve admission or has been dismissed from a regular doctoral department or program at this university. Students wishing to transfer from an existing UM doctoral program will be considered on an individual basis, taking into account the spirit of this rule.
  • An IIP admission committee will review the application and make a recommendation for admission to the Dean of the Graduate School. During the review of an application, the chair of a student's proposed IIP program committee must be available to meet with the IIP Admission Committee to discuss details of the student's research problem(s) and academic plan, if necessary.
  • The faculty involved in the IIP process have different roles than those in traditional programs, especially due to the diverse nature of the prospective committee. Faculty will act as mentors and champions for the IIP student, helping construct the curriculum, promoting understanding of the doctorate process and the skills needed to complete such process.
  • The faculty will enjoy the benefits of a synergetic process where cooperation between faculty and student will build knowledge from different disciplines and create an environment that fosters thinking outside one’s own field of expertise.

 

Financial Assistance

Students in the interdisciplinary programs may apply for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship from the Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs at the Graduate School. Preference will be given to MIS and IIP students who have teaching as one of their goals.

For additional information about financial assistance, see the Financial Information section on this web site.

Program Limitations

  • More recognizable traditional degree programs may provide the opportunity to bridge over into other disciplines through electives.
  • There may be interdisciplinary areas where the expertise and resource support is not available.
  • The IIP is not a substitute for a disciplinary doctoral program not available at UM.
Interdisciplinary Studies

Campus Location
Graduate School - Lommasson Center Room 224

Coordinator
Blakely Brown, PhD, Interim Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs
blakely.brown@mso.umt.edu
(406) 243-2572