Interdisciplinary Studies (Graduate)  {SF State Bulletin 2011-2012}

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Interdisciplinary Studies (Graduate)

Division of Graduate Studies

Dean: Ann Hallum


ADM 254



M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies

M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies


Note: Admission fall semester only. Because of the State of California budget restrictions, the Interdisciplinary Study program is closed. Please see the Graduate Adviser for information on graduate program options.



Program Scope

Graduate Major

A degree in Interdisciplinary Studies is offered as a Master of Arts and a Master of Science to meet the unique needs and interests of students that cannot be met in a reasonable manner by one of the regularly offered graduate degree programs at SF State. Students pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies program must develop a 36 unit plan of study that draws on courses from multiple disciplines with the intent to integrate the concepts, perspectives, and methodologies of those disciplines into a focused, central theme which may lead to new ways of looking at a subject, issues or problem. Usually, courses must be selected from three departments bridging at least two colleges within the University.


The courses to be applied toward the major must be carefully selected for their interrelatedness and general applicability to the objectives of the unique major being proposed. Only major themes that can be supported with integrity by existing coursework and faculty expertise will be approved. Determination of degree designation as an MS or MA is the decision of the major adviser and the dean of Graduate Studies. This degree cannot be used to meet credential or licensing requirements. Students may not use courses from fields of study, such as, nursing, physical therapy or counseling which lead to licensure or certification unless a single course is specifically authorized by the department chair.


Budget restrictions by the State of California may close off acceptance of new students in these programs at any time without prior notice.


Eligibility for the Program

All applicants to this program must be eligible for admission to post-baccalaureate study as specified in the graduate admissions section of this Bulletin. The applicant should present evidence of a minimum 3.25 grade point average in the baccalaureate degree or in the last 60 semester units taken, and a pattern of undergraduate course work which will provide the foundation for the advanced degree work in the approved Interdisciplinary Studies major. Students must demonstrate English competency and proficiency before beginning the program which can be met by earning a score of 4.5 or better on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or GMAT analytical writing section. Students who have earned a masters or doctoral degree will be exempted from the pre-admission writing requirement, however; writing will be assessed based on the applicant’s required essays.


Final approval to pursue an interdisciplinary study degree is made by the dean of Graduate Studies after all outstanding problems have been resolved.


Written English Proficiency Requirement

The university has a requirement for written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different points in a student's program. Level One must be met prior to admission. See above in Eligibility for the Program. A student who fails to meet the writing criteria will not be admitted.

Level Two is determined toward the end of the student's program. The dean of Graduate Studies and faculty overseeing the program will assess Level Two writing through review of a final paper from a selected graduate course that requires intensive writing. In addition, the major adviser, in consultation with other committee members as necessary, will determine that the student writes in a "scholarly" manner in the subject area (theme) of the program. Most often the satisfactory completion of a master's thesis or a written field research project will satisfy this second level requirement. How this second level requirement is being met must be indicated on the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) form.


Advising for the Program

The applicant is responsible for developing the program proposal and obtaining the endorsements of three tenured/tenure-track faculty members of the university eligible to work in graduate programs as defined in the university Bulletin. The primary responsibility for academic program advising will rest with the members of this committee, especially the major adviser. The major adviser must come from a department/program in which a significant amount of the program course work is to be taken. At least one of the committee members must come from a different department/program from the primary focus of the student's proposal. The dean of Graduate Studies is responsible for the general administration of the program in lieu of the traditional college and department. Students interested in the Interdisciplinary Studies program should meet with a graduate adviser in ADM 254. See the Graduate Studies website for advising information.


Program Requirements

Students in the Interdisciplinary Studies major must complete all requirements for a master's degree offered by the university. In addition, students in the Interdisciplinary Studies program are expected to meet the following standards:

  • Maintain close contact with the major adviser and other committee members in order to assure that the program is carefully planned, and that satisfactory progress is made toward its completion.
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA every semester in all coursework specified for the degree. CR/NC courses are not allowed except for the culminating experience course.
  • Make continuous progress toward the degree in every semester until graduation, taking no fewer than 9 units toward the degree each year. Courses not related to the degree are not permitted.
  • Complete the 36 unit degree in no more than five years from the date of enrollment.


Advancement to Candidacy (ATC)

The Advancement to Candidacy form must:

  • Include a minimum of 36 semester units of coursework exclusive of special (individual) study, experimental, transfer, and credit-by-examination type of credit; that includes courses from three disciplinary areas as specified by the degree advisors;
  • Include a minimum of 3 units of a research methodology and 3 units of statistics beyond elementary statistics (e.g. MATH 124).
  • Include 24-27 semester units of graduate-level courses in a program requiring 36 units, and for programs in excess of 36 units, at least 70 percent of the units required must be in graduate level courses (i.e., numbered 700 and above on this campus);
  • Include no more than 12 units of coursework in any one discipline;
  • Make provision for a 3-unit culminating experience requirement (e.g., 898, thesis; 894, creative work project; 895, field research project; etc.) that utilizes a committee of three faculty advisors sitting on the student’s committee; and
  • Include the signature of the major and second advisors. The dean of Graduate Studies will review and approve the ATC in lieu of a college coordinator and on behalf of the university.


General Procedures for the Program

Developing an Interdisciplinary Studies degree takes a great deal of initiative, independent thought and follow-through by the student. To initiate the process:

  1. Meet with a Graduate Studies adviser to review program requirements and processes for developing a proposal.
  2. Identify and meet with the primary faculty adviser and two additional tenured or tenure-line faculty members at SF State campus who have the expertise and interest in advising and supporting you in the proposed program of study. The primary faculty adviser must be from a department that offers a graduate degree. Lecturer faculty may not serve on Interdisciplinary Studies committees because lecturer faculty may not be available each semester for advising.
  3. When the proposal form has been approved by all three advisors, submit the proposal with the faculty signatures to the Dean of the Graduate Studies for final approval. Following approval, you must be admitted to the University via the online CSU Mentor system.
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