University of Montana Catalog 2023-2024

Interdisciplinary Studies Ph.D.

Doctor of Philosophy - Interdisciplinary Studies

Degree Specific Credits: 60

Required Cumulative GPA: 3.0


  • The D.I.S. is not focused on combining disciplines as the M.I.S. program, but in allowing the student to bring forward a problem or series of problems to research.
  • This degree has a different application process than other degrees at the university; prospective students must schedule an appointment with the Director or Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs before beginning the application process.
  • The student must seek out faculty with the resources and expertise to assist them in defining and executing the research goals, and designing a curriculum to acquire the skills and competencies needed to reach those goals.
  • The D.I.S. requires a student who is highly motivated, has a focused goal/research project in mind, and is able to actively participate in his or her educational process.
  • Prospective students should read the thorough description of the program on the Doctoral Interdisciplinary Studies website.


  • To graduate, a student needs at least 45 credits beyond the master’s degree. Credits may include regular courses (G or UG with the graduate increment), independent study, internships and seminars. In fulfilling that credit requirement, students must take:
    • At least 10 credits of dissertation research.
    • At least 18 credits at the 500 or 600 level.
    • At least 2 credits of D.I.S. Seminar (when offered; students can substitute a department seminar in consultation with their advisors); seminars may not be taken in the same semester.
    • At least 2 credits of seminars offered by any graduate program on the UM – Missoula Campus; seminars may not be taken in the same semester.

Dissertation proposal – Students must submit a formal dissertation proposal to their committee in their second year in the program (or on a mutually agreed upon timeframe upon admission). This proposal should be approved by the doctoral committee, prior to the student’s advancing to the comprehensive exam.

Comprehensive exam – Students must pass a comprehensive exam. The exam generally includes a written and oral portion, although the specific format will be determined by the student’s graduate committee and agreed upon prior to admission to the program.

Dissertation / Oral Defense – In line with Graduate School policy for all doctorates (D5.0000: Dissertation Defense), students must submit and receive formal approval of their doctoral dissertation and must pass an oral defense of their dissertation prior to receiving their degree.