Interdisciplinary Programs

The University of Alabama Graduate School offers a range of interdisciplinary graduate programs. Click on the program name to learn more.

Why Consider an Interdisciplinary Program?

The interdisciplinary degree programs are designed to train students in new and emerging areas that lie at the intersection of two or more disciplines. The interdisciplinary programs are designed for highly motivated students who want to tailor their program to their professional goals, interests, career goals, and educational goals. Such a student might not fit into one of The University of Alabama’s traditional department-based programs, but they are a good match for UA’s broad-ranging fields of expertise.

High-paying jobs of the future are more complex, multi-disciplinary and require a wide set of skills from different fields. The report demonstrates that such jobs are growing at twice the rate of the overall job market and appear across the full spectrum of professions.

There is no such thing as a typical student for an interdisciplinary graduate program. Students vary widely in both age and interests. They may pursue their interdisciplinary graduate degree just after graduation or when considering career changes or advancement at a later stage. Students may pursue these degrees on either a full-time or part-time basis.


As the interdisciplinary programs are not based in academic departments (where the bulk of graduate student funding is derived) finding funding can be more challenging. However, the complete suite of graduate student funding opportunities are available to students in this program.

Curricular Requirements

Detailed curricular requirements can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

Interdisciplinary Studies MA and MS

The Interdisciplinary Studies master’s program can be pursued online or on-campus, depending on the subject area and availability of courses. The program can be pursued online only when all programs contributing classes to the student curriculum offer online classes. The interdisciplinary studies master’s program is available as an MA (for those whose degree goals are more focused in the arts and humanities) or an MS (for those whose degree goals are more focused in the STEM fields).

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to critically examine multiple sources of information, formulating responses to particular problems or questions. They will be able to demonstrate communication skills relevant to their disciplinary focuses and show competence in the processes of inquiry, at a level appropriate to a master’s degree.

Thesis or Non-Thesis

Participants in the program can choose to follow a thesis or non-thesis track. Those following the thesis track must demonstrate their ability to articulate and address a research question utilizing appropriate methodologies. Non-thesis students must complete a Capstone Project. Through this project, they must demonstrate leadership and problem-solving skills relevant to their professional field. The Capstone Project can involve a graded internship.

Earning an Interdisciplinary Studies MA and MS via Graduate Certificate

Students who have earned one or more graduate certificates as non-degree-seeking students may be able to apply their certificates toward the Interdisciplinary Studies master’s degree. In this situation, related graduate certificates are connected to a coherent master’s degree through a Capstone Project.


Fall semester: June 15

Spring semester: November 1

Summer semester: April 1

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for consideration, prospective candidates must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or equivalent. To apply, applicants should submit an application to the Graduate School. Application materials include:

  1. Transcripts showing a completed bachelor’s degree (at the time of initial enrollment) or equivalent from an accredited university. Transcripts must show a GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or equivalent.
  2. The email addresses of three recommenders.
  3. A CV or résumé.
  4. A Statement of Purpose that includes responses to the following questions:
    • What are the academic disciplines at The University of Alabama from which you propose to draw classes? If you are applying to complete this program online, these classes must be available at the graduate (masters/doctoral) level in online format
    • Describe your academic and/or professional preparation and how this relates to the Interdisciplinary Master’s program that you envision.
    • Describe the personal and/or professional goals that you wish to achieve by completing the Interdisciplinary Master’s program.
    • The final stage of the Interdisciplinary Master’s program involves a thesis or project that pulls together the different types of expertise you will have acquired. If you have an idea now about the potential focus of that thesis or project – a question you might explore or a problem you might solve – please briefly describe that idea. (We recognize that this idea may evolve during the course of your studies.)
  5. English language proficiency scores (for non-native English speakers).

Upon completion of the application, the Graduate School will form an application review committee comprising graduate program directors from the two to three departments identified in your Statement of Purpose. If there are questions regarding your Statement of Purpose or program/career goals, you will be contacted for clarification. The initial review committee will make the admission recommendation to the Graduate School.


On admission, students will be assigned to a home department. An advisory committee, together with a primary advisor, will work with the student to formulate a plan of study. The plan of study will include the decision of whether to follow the thesis option or Capstone Project option. Students pursuing the thesis option will be encouraged to take a research methods or theory course in one of the participating departments during their first semester. Advisors may wish to have students enroll in an independent study course during the first semester, during which they create an in-depth proposal to be approved by the advisory committee.

Interdisciplinary Studies PhD

The Interdisciplinary Studies PhD program offers areas of specialization that encompass the extensive research expertise of UA’s world renowned graduate faculty.

To be eligible for consideration, prospective candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • A completed master’s degree (at the time of admission) or its equivalent from an accredited university.
  • GPA of 3.3 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or equivalent. If the GPA is less than a 3.3, there must be other areas of strength that demonstrate excellence.

The interdisciplinary studies, Ph.D. program is not available to students who have been unsuccessful in previous graduate work. The program can only be pursued on-campus.


Fall semester: June 15

Spring semester: November 1

Summer semester: April 1

Admission Requirements

To ensure that The University of Alabama can help students achieve their research, classwork and career goals, all prospective students must meet with Dr. Andrew Goodliffe to discuss research goals, fit of the Interdisciplinary Studies PhD, and potential advisory committee members.

If the Interdisciplinary Studies PhD program is a good fit, the applicant will submit an application to the Graduate School that includes:

  • Transcripts showing a completed master’s degree (at the time of initial enrollment) or equivalent from an accredited university. GPA of 3.3 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or equivalent.
  • The email addresses of three recommenders.
  • A CV or résumé.
  • A Statement of Purpose discussing professional/academic preparation, the reason for choosing The University of Alabama, research goals and intended future career path.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies PhD supplemental information form including:
    • Proposed course list
    • Name of proposed committee chair
    • Name of four additional committee members
    • Name of home department
    • A 1-2 page research proposal
  • Language scores (for non-native English speakers).

Interdisciplinary Studies PhD (concentration in Advanced Drug Delivery)

The Interdisciplinary Studies PhD program offers the option to specialize in Advanced Drug Delivery. Admissions requirements mirror those of the regular Interdisciplinary Studies PhD program with the exception that interested prospective students must meet with Dr. M. N. V. Ravi Kumar of the Drug Delivery Research group.

Materials Science PhD

The Materials Science PhD Program is an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental, and intercampus doctoral program linking the three universities that comprise the University of Alabama System – The University of Alabama (UA), in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Students who successfully complete the program receive a PhD degree in Materials Science from the University of Alabama System.

There are many advantages to being a part of a multi-campus program, including the opportunity to participate remotely in courses offered on the other campuses. Each student’s dissertation committee contains at least one member from one of the other two campuses.

Through this interdisciplinary graduate education approach, students tailor their course work across departments, colleges, and university campus boundaries. In doing so, students have greater options to maximize their academic, research, and professional interest. Students typically have undergraduate degrees in physics, chemistry, or materials-related engineering disciplines.

Since Materials Science is a graduate program, and not a department, students select a “home department” where their advisor resides. With their advisor and graduate committee, students develop a plan of study that satisfies PhD requirements at the respective home campus.

Organization: The Materials Science PhD draws on various colleges and academic divisions. At UA, the program is supported by departments in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. At UAB, the Schools of MedicineDentistry, and Optometry are involved, as are the School of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. At UAH, the College of Engineering and the College of Science participate in the program. The program is coordinated by the Tricampus Materials Science Coordinating Committee.

Dr. Mark Weaver
UA Campus Director, Tri-Campus Materials Science Program