Interdisciplinary studies


What is a graduate interdisciplinary degree?

It is a customized Ph.D., M.A. or M.S. degree program that combines coursework from two or more disciplines.

The program is administered directly by the graduate director. The admissions process is administered by the Graduate School, and it works closely with the Interdisciplinary Studies Council.

How does it work?

Students design their program of study with faculty members from multiple disciplines (e.g., geosciences and Indigenous studies, psychology and business, linguistics and education) who can serve as their advisory committee. Their primary advisor (co-)chairs the committee. The student submits their proposed program as part of their application. If accepted, the student is housed in the home department of their advisor and completes their degree following university procedures under the guidance of their advisory committee.

Designing your program

Students are responsible for designing the program, ensuring that it conforms to rigorous academic standards, and organizing a committee of faculty members to serve as advisors. If UAF does not have existing bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. programs in the fields you are interested in, then it is unlikely that we have faculty available to support your proposed interdisciplinary studies degree. However, if you have well-defined research interests that bridge two or more available disciplines at UAF, then interdisciplinary studies may be a good fit for you.

Your proposed program should draw on two or more existing UAF graduate programs, and no more than half of your course credits should be taken from a single existing graduate program. 


If you need assistance designing your program, please contact Shelly Baumann, assistant director, at, or call 907-474-7464.

Comprehensive exams

All interdisciplinary Ph.D. students complete both a written comprehensive examination and an oral comprehensive exam.

  • The written exam can take one of several forms and may include an oral follow-up, which will be considered part of the “written exam.”
  • The oral exam will consist of a formal defense of the Ph.D. research proposal.