General Regulations and Requirements for Interdisciplinary Graduate Degrees

Northeastern University offers individually designed and ongoing interdisciplinary graduate programs. The individually designed program is for the student who wishes to pursue graduate studies in an area that substantially overlaps two or more units. In such cases, that student may design, in consultation with his or her faculty advisor(s), an interdisciplinary program. The program will correspond in scope and depth to Northeastern’s established degree standards but need not agree exactly with the regulations of individual units. There are also ongoing programs for students who wish to pursue graduate studies in areas in which two or more units have jointly established a graduate program. As with individually designed programs, ongoing programs correspond in scope and depth to Northeastern’s established degree standards but do not agree exactly with the regulations of individual units.

The general regulations and requirements for graduate programs apply to interdisciplinary programs. Additional regulations and requirements are stated below.

Admission

University-Approved Interdisciplinary Programs

Ongoing interdisciplinary programs are university-approved programs in areas of study that combine study in two or more units.

Each interdisciplinary graduate program shall be managed as established in the approved design of the program. All interdisciplinary programs, both master’s and PhD, shall identify a committee with representation from all of the units involved to oversee the administration of the program in accordance with the guidelines established above. All administrative details, including but not limited to admission, probation notification, and graduation clearance, shall be carried out by the registration unit. Curriculum design and any subsequent modifications to a program shall be approved by the established procedures within all of the units involved.

Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Programs

In order to pursue an individually designed interdisciplinary graduate program, a student must have been accepted into an approved graduate program that will serve as the registration unit for the interdisciplinary program.

Successful application for admission to an individually designed interdisciplinary program consists of a carefully thought-out, written proposal describing the areas of proposed study and research. Part of this proposal will be a list of courses to be taken; a description of the qualifying and comprehensive examination process to be used, if any; a timeline; and any other requirements of the program. This proposal must be designed and prepared in consultation with a terminally prepared faculty member at Northeastern University. In the case of an interdisciplinary PhD proposal, this faculty member must meet the qualifications defined in the section on PhD Dissertation Committees. At least two units must be participating in order for the proposal to be deemed interdisciplinary. The proposal must correspond in scope and depth to Northeastern’s established degree standards. All of the units and the associate dean(s) for graduate education of the participating college(s) must approve the proposal. Approval of the proposal indicates that appropriate curricular and other academic norms for the specified degree are satisfied. A proposal for a PhD must define an area of study in which original and independent research can take place.

Admission of the student to the interdisciplinary program of study requires favorable recommendation by all units involved, including the registration unit. It also requires the commitment by a faculty member at Northeastern University to be the advisor of the student and chair of the interdisciplinary committee for the student. In the case of an interdisciplinary PhD program, this faculty member must meet the qualifications defined in the section on PhD Dissertation Committees. This faculty member may or may not be a member of the registration unit. The committee must be assembled within the first semester of the program and must include faculty members from all of the participating units. At least two units must be represented on the committee.

This committee will be responsible for overseeing the completion of the degree requirements. It will also be responsible for the administrative elements of the program, such as the monitoring of satisfactory progress; the design and grading of the preliminary and comprehensive exams, if applicable; graduation clearance; etc. This interdisciplinary committee is also responsible for an annual review of the progress of the student and for reporting this progress to the registration unit on an annual basis.