Information for Prospective Students

The Interdisciplinary PhD Program is a full-time research-based program designed to meet the needs of an increasing number of mature, experienced students for research opportunities which cut across disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinary research integrates the insights of two or more disciplines to advance knowledge and solutions beyond the scope of a single discipline. Within the program's framework, the program of study is customizable to the needs of the student and their research direction. Students take graduate courses across Faculties at Dalhousie and work with faculty members in existing PhD-granting disciplines and other areas. They then complete a set of comprehensive examinations, defend a PhD thesis proposal, and then complete and defend an original research program leading to the doctoral thesis.

Applicants for the program must have demonstrated prior academic excellence. Before applying, prospective students must consult with faculty members in the disciplines relevant to their proposed research program. Particular attention should be paid to the following features of the Interdisciplinary PhD program:

  1. Entering students must hold a thesis-based Master's degree or equivalent independent research experience as demonstrated through first-authored publications etc. The cumulative GPA must be 3.7 or greater.
  2. The responsibility largely lies with students to organize a unique, genuinely interdisciplinary program of studies with identified supervisor(s) and supervisory committee. The supervisory committee must be fully identified by the second stage of the program’s admissions process.
  3. Doctoral programs are designed to produce graduates who are capable of acting as independent investigators. Within that model of increasing independence, the supervisory committee is responsible for defining and supervising the student's overall program of study, including advice on funding, setting and scheduling of comprehensive examinations, the development of a thesis proposal, the research program, thesis-writing and defence.
  4. Students should plan their program of study in the context of an overall career goal to ensure that, as far as possible, an appropriate qualification is developed for desired employment upon graduation.

The admissions process for the Interdisciplinary PhD is a three-stage process consisting of: (i) evaluation of academic credentials, (ii) evaluation of interdisciplinary research interests, supervision, and planning, and (iii) applicant interviews. Anyone wishing to pursue admission to the program should plan it within the framework of the following admission process.

  1. The student should develop, in consultation with at least one faculty member, a tentative program of proposed study, making sure that it: (a) is truly interdisciplinary, and (b) cannot be completed within the framework of a single discipline.
  2. The student, in consultation with the potential supervisor, should prepare a Statement of Interdisciplinary Research Interest.
  3. The student should discuss the proposed program with appropriate faculty members and obtain written support from a supervisor and two committee members.
  4. The application process is described in detail on the Web at: Please see that website for details on the documents required for a full application, including: transcripts, Statement of Interdisciplinary Research Interest, program proposal, three letters of reference, letters of support from proposed supervisor and committee members, and other supporting documentation. Please also see the program website for application deadlines.

Because the application process is a lengthy one, prospective students are advised to plan well in advance. Application for external funding by all eligible applicants is strongly advised. Limited university funding may be available.

Admission Deadlines

Deadlines are February 1 for September start, or October 1 for a January or May start.

Program Requirements

Preliminary course work will generally consist of 12 to 18 credit hours chosen from the graduate offerings of the Faculty and may include up to two directed reading courses. During the second year, comprehensive examinations are written in fields appropriate to the topic of research. The number (no more than three) and nature (written, oral, combination of written and oral, or project-based) are decided by the supervisory committee. Soon after comprehensives are passed the student submits a written thesis proposal to the supervisory committee. After successfully defending the written proposal the student works exclusively on the research program leading to the thesis. The finished thesis is presented and orally defended in compliance with the Faculty of Graduate Studies procedures.

For more information contact: 
Faculty of Graduate Studies, Dalhousie University
Room 314, Henry Hicks Academic Administration Building
6299 South Street | PO BOX 15000
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada

Telephone (902) 494-8078
Fax: (902) 494-8797
Email: idphd@Dal.Ca