Individual Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program updated to better serve students

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Now in its 40th year, the Washington State University Individual Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program (IIDP) is updating its learning goals to better serve the researchers, teachers, and leaders it helps train.

The WSU Faculty Senate recently approved changes to dated policies governing the program, which was first established in 1983 to assist graduate students addressing research questions that combine insights from three or more disciplines.

Closeup of Arvin Sahaym
Arvin Sahaym

“The Graduate School’s leadership geared up to reboot and renew the IIDP early this year to meet future needs as the disciplines have become more encompassing over time, and new opportunities are emerging at an increasing pace to connect the dots for addressing complex research questions,” said Arvin Sahaym, program director for IIDP.

Some of the most significant changes to the program are highlighted below:

  • Shift from requiring the participation of graduate faculty from three or more programs to only two or more, which acknowledges the evolving interdisciplinary nature of most academic fields. Students will have the flexibility to add more than two disciplines if needed, but they are no longer required to search for a third discipline only to fulfill the program requirements.
  • Modify the requirements of the student’s graduate advisory committee to include four faculty members from at least two distinct disciplines, simplifying the committee formation process.
  • Improve the qualifying and preliminary exam processes.

In addition to these structural changes, the IIDP has introduced the following:

  • A new organizational framework featuring the formation of an executive committee that oversees curriculum, admission, examination, and scholarship.
  • The program’s mission statement has been revised to emphasize its commitment to developing innovative researchers and leaders who address complex research questions that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries.
  • The application process for the IIDP has been streamlined for greater clarity and accessibility.
    • Prospective students can now find detailed application requirements, including recommendation letters, transcripts, and a statement of purpose on the Graduate School website.
  • The dissertation format is more flexible to accommodate the style found in the student’s chosen research disciplines, allowing for a broader range of dissertation formats.
  • Additional changes include revisions in faculty titles to reflect current roles, updates to student learning outcomes, and the introduction of a transfer credit policy.

Sahaym said, “The IIDP contributes to WSU’s standing as one of the nation’s top research universities through its unique research foci to promote exploring complex problems and leveraging insights from diverse disciplines. The Graduate School’s leadership, faculty, and staff are committed to helping IIDP students achieve their goals and contribute to WSU’s education, scholarship, and outreach missions.”

Full details may be found at the following links:

As part of the WSU Graduate School, the IIDP will continue to improve to better serve WSU’s graduate students as they pursue interdisciplinary initiatives as well as the faculty and staff with whom they collaborate and interact.

Suggestions for improvements may be sent directly to the IIDP program director, Arvin Sahaym.

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