Submitting Proposals for New Programs

Proposals for new graduate portfolio programs, intended to promote cross-disciplinary scholarship and content expertise by bringing together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines whose interests transcend the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines, should come from faculty.

New Portfolio Programs


Other objectives of portfolio programs are to:

  • Encourage dialogue between disparate academic disciplines and create new communities of scholars within the university who recognize the intellectual value of integrating multiple perspectives on a particular scholarly issue or topic;
  • Encourage the effective expansion of cross-disciplinary content expertise;
  • Provide an opportunity for students in highly theoretical disciplines to obtain applied knowledge and from allied fields of study and vice-versa;
  • Expand the research and scholarly credentials of students, thereby increasing their marketability with prospective employers; and
  • Experiment intellectually with lines of research and modes of inquiry that over time could form the basis for new interdisciplinary degree programs.


Graduate portfolio programs require completion of 9-15 credit hours of thematically related graduate coursework (typically 3-5 courses) selected from a variety of pre-determined disciplines/graduate programs.

To ensure the effective expansion of cross-disciplinary content expertise, each student’s portfolio must include a minimum of 9 credit hours of content coursework (typically 3 courses) and content courses offered by at least two graduate programs outside of the student's primary degree major. In addition to required content courses, portfolio programs may require one Independent Study Course and/or one Internship course.

Master’s Reports, Master’s Theses, and Doctoral Dissertations may be used to satisfy the independent paper/project requirement of a portfolio program; however, these courses may not be used to satisfy the 9-15 credit-hour coursework requirement.

Completion of the portfolio normally includes an independent paper/project related to the student’s work in a given area or a scholarly essay that is presented at a research colloquium attended by faculty and students from the academic disciplines included in the cross-disciplinary area of inquiry.

Additional Specifications

Unlike “supporting coursework” or a minor, which typically refer to a department or discipline outside of a student’s major, graduate portfolio programs designate a topic, issue, skill or application that usually involves multiple disciplines.

  • Although certification for completion of the portfolio is independent of the requirements for the student’s degree program, courses included in the major or supporting areas of work for the degree may be counted toward completion of the portfolio.
  • Coursework eligible for inclusion in the portfolio program is selected by a committee of faculty representing a specific cross-disciplinary area of expertise.
  • The application process for the portfolio program is determined by the faculty committee administering the program.
  • Faculty advisers assist students both in designing a personalized portfolio related to the student’s interests and in defining projects or papers that add cohesiveness to the portfolio course requirements.
  • Upon completion of both the degree and the portfolio requirements, the portfolio certification will be added to the student's transcript.
  • Because portfolio programs do not incur expenses normally associated with the development and implementation of new graduate degree programs, the cost to encourage cross-disciplinary inquiry should be modest

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals for graduate portfolio programs should contain the following:

  1. The rationale for the portfolio program
  2. Details outlining the administration and certification of requirements, including:
    1. A program description
    2. Admission information
      Provide a description of the admission process, the requirements for admission (including a provision that students obtain the permission of their graduate adviser) and any restrictions on when students may enter the program.
    3. Course and semester hour credit requirements
      Include a sample program of work and possible concentrations, if applicable. Indicate new courses planned.
    4. Any additional requirements (research paper, presentation, practical experience, GPA, etc.)
    5. Program administration and certification of program requirements Indicate who will be responsible for administering the portfolio and the process for certifying completion.
    6. The relationship to the student’s degree program (such as including member of the portfolio program on the dissertation or thesis committee)
    7. Expected enrollment, both at start and projected for future
      Explain assumptions used in making these estimates.
  3. A list of faculty involved and their disciplines
  4. Approvals from:
    1. Deans of participating colleges and schools (signatures required)
    2. Chairpersons and directors of participating departments and programs (signatures required)
    3. Endorsement of Graduate Studies Committees of participating graduate programs and
    4. Verification that faculty teaching courses listed for the portfolio program have given their consent
  5. Additional information helpful in evaluating the proposal

You must also include a one-page summary of the proposal for the minutes of the Graduate Assembly. Final approval of the Dean of the Graduate School and the Executive Vice President and Provost is required.