The Pennsylvania State University The Graduate School at Penn State

Interdisciplinary Graduate Training

Interdisciplinary Graduate Training

The research mission of major land grant universities increasingly includes the need for multidisciplinary approaches to graduate education that enable students to contribute to the resolution of problems of global concern. Creative solutions to these problems will likely come from individuals, and groups of individuals, who are willing to embrace the reality that many disciplines must be called upon to affect the causal outcomes. These new interdisciplinary scholars will need to be challenged in their education to "think outside the box” by using problem solving approaches that may be mainstream in one discipline, but may have never been applied in other fields of study.

Penn State has a variety of mechanisms to offer interdisciplinary training. One method is the dual-title program, which is a unique model that fully integrates two fields of study into a single research/thesis problem. The dual-title program offers considerable value-added scholarship for students, along with enhanced methodological/ analytical skills, and broadens students’ employment/career opportunities.

Among the advantages of the dual-title program are:

  • the student is enrolled simultaneously in a primary and dual title program, with each having equal stature and credit;
  • the major adviser for the primary and dual title programs is same individual, which ensures both fields are represented in the student’s research and thesis;
  • both fields of study are represented/explored in the candidacy, comprehensive and final examinations;
  • completion of the program provides a visible credential, i.e., the degree is awarded in both fields of study.

The dual-title program can be adopted by any number of primary programs, and it is particularly suited to fields that interface with a broad number of other disciplines. Where a proposed new programmatic area in graduate education is interdisciplinary, the dual-title program is the preferred graduate degree model.

For more information on interdisciplinary training offered at Penn State, please visit our web page: Mechanisms/Models for Interdisciplinary Graduate Training.

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