Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary Programs


The University of Texas at Austin offers a number of established interdisciplinary academic programs that make use of research facilities and faculty expertise from related academic areas. 

In addition to these opportunities for interdisciplinary study, doctoral students may construct an ad hoc interdisciplinary program with the permission of the graduate program into which they are admitted. These ad hoc interdisciplinary degree programs draw on the intellectual resources and research facilities of several graduate programs, allowing the student to develop an interdisciplinary program that “follows the knowledge,” wherever that path leads.

Students interested in the ad hoc interdisciplinary doctoral program should consult the admission coordinator or graduate adviser of the program to which they are admitted or to which they plan to apply. You will work with the graduate adviser and the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) of your home department, and your degree will be designated a Ph.D. in that program. At the time of graduation, your transcript will reflect both the receipt of the doctorate and a notation that you completed an ad hoc interdisciplinary program of work in specified fields/areas.

Guidelines to Develop an Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary Program

If you believe your research plans will be best served by an ad hoc interdisciplinary program, consult with your graduate adviser about the desirability of an interdisciplinary program and about which faculty members may be asked to form an ad hoc committee.

The graduate adviser, in conjunction with the proposed chair of the committee, will call a meeting of the committee or consult with the members in writing about your program of work, your dissertation topic and any qualifying exams you must take or additional requirements you will be expected to fulfill.

When all the members of the committee, your graduate adviser and your GSC chair have agreed to your proposal, the graduate adviser will send the Application for Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program form to the Graduate School for approval. This form must include:

  • A brief statement of your proposed interdisciplinary dissertation topic;
  • A statement from the faculty member who will supervise your work explaining why an interdisciplinary doctoral program is desirable; and
  • A statement from the graduate adviser describing requirements you must meet before being admitted to candidacy.

Approval of the Application for Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program does not constitute approval of your application for candidacy. After you have passed all required examinations as specified by your home department and your ad hoc committee, the ad hoc committee will be dissolved and your graduate adviser will submit an application for candidacy using the usual forms and procedures. Frequently, the application for candidacy will duplicate the ad hoc program application with respect to the proposed committee members and the proposed program of work.

As with all doctoral degrees, supervision of your dissertation will be in the hands of the dissertation committee, which will administer the final oral examination. Upon satisfactory completion of the dissertation and the final oral examination, the Graduate Studies Committee of your home department must certify that all requirements have been met for the degree and recommend the award of the Ph.D.