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Several mechanisms/models for interdisciplinary graduate training exist at Penn State. Following is a list in order of the simplest approach to more complex degree models, along with links to more specific information:

  • Special Seminars; Co-Hosted Invited Lectures; Hosted Conferences
    • affords rapid response to new trends in interdisciplinary fields

  • Elective Courses Outside Major Program
    • provides interaction with other disciplinary paradigms or approaches

  • Postbaccalaureate/Graduate Credit Certificates
    • in keeping with the University's educational mission and outreach effort, enable Penn State to be more responsive to varied and emerging educational needs, to extend/enhance access to Penn State throughout the Commonwealth, the nation, and internationally, and to respond to instructional opportunities with greater speed and flexibility than is possible with developing rigorous graduate degree programs
    • reflect emerging academic areas, and may be supplements or enhancements to existing graduate degree programs
    • designed to foster development of an area of specialty or competency within or across disciplines

  • Graduate Minors
    • value-added curriculum for students
    • visible on a student’s transcript

  • Options
    • tracks of curricular specialization that can be adopted by other major programs
    • visible on a student’s transcript and diploma as a credential

  • Intercollege Graduate Degree Programs
    • academically similar to department-based programs
    • faculty membership crosses department, college, and often campus boundaries; provides greater diversity/interdisciplinary flavor to students’ committees
    • required core courses (e.g., colloquium) often informed by diversity of faculty participation, resulting in greater interdisciplinary emphasis

  • Concurrent Degrees
    • recognized training in both fields (two degrees), with separate thesis/dissertation and other requirements for each degree
    • concurrent master's degrees and doctorate/master's degree allowed (concurrent doctorates not allowed)

  • Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs
    • The dual-title graduate degree is an excellent approach that not only allows the student to receive value-added training in another field, but in contrast to a stand-alone graduate program in which interdisciplinary exposure is achieved only through course work outside the major field, the dual-title model ensures that the additional field is also integrated into the research problem and thesis/dissertation.
    • Because students must be enrolled in a primary graduate program before admission into a dual-title field, they are anchored to an academic unit that generally provides physical and administrative assets and financial support.
    • Students pursue both degrees simultaneously and in a truly integrated fashion. The student receives a single diploma titled in both fields of study, and is acknowledged to have the degree in both areas.
    • Unit leaders and primary program heads are equally and fully credited for the training they provide to students.

When considering interdisciplinary graduate training, students should discuss their research interests with the graduate degree program of their choice before enrollment in the program. Faculty members should consult with the associate dean for research and graduate studies within their respective colleges, as well as with colleagues whose programs provide interdisciplinary training options. The Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School, Regina Vasilatos-Younken, is also available to provide consultation to faculty on selecting the appropriate mechanism for students’ interdisciplinary training needs.

This page was generated on July 5, 2022 at 2:55 AM Eastern Time. This may not be the most recent version. Check the website for updates.