The Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies permits students to earn an interdisciplinary master's degree when their special needs or interests cannot be met by any existing CSULB graduate degree program. The Interdisciplinary Studies master's degree is not a degree divided between or among disciplines, but is a cohesive program of study, which integrates the methodologies, perspectives, and content of two or more disciplines. A master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies must be justified by legitimate academic goals.
Acceptance of an applicant to an Interdisciplinary Studies master's program is based on such considerations as the academic merit and rationale of the proposed course of study, the applicant's potential for successful completion of a master's program, the potential application of the degree towards the applicant’s career and educational goals, and the ability of the University to support the proposed study with faculty, curricula, and facilities. Candidates should carefully assess goals before proceeding with this degree. The degree program is administered by the Associate Vice President for Graduate and Undergraduate Programs through the office of the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Director.
1. A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
2. Submission of any standardized test scores (e.g., GRE, GMAT, etc.) or screening activities required by the identified Primary discipline, or primary department (Usually the department issuing the Master’s).
3. An interdisciplinary master's program requires demonstration of potential for success in each of the disciplines relevant to the proposed degree work. The relevant Department Graduate Advisors, in consultation with the student will determine the appropriate prerequisite courses for each program; these are listed on the Prerequisite Sheet that accompanies the Application for a Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
4. Students must meet the required GPA of their identified Primary discipline in the last 60 units of work completed at an accredited college or university and a 3.0 GPA in all prerequisite course work listed on the Prerequisite Sheet.
5. No more than 9 units of previously completed course work can be included in the program.
6. Students must maintain a 3.0 or better GPA in their program course work in order to remain in the major.
Acceptance to the Program
Those students who meet all program and University prerequisites for graduate study and whose Interdisciplinary Studies master's programs have been approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies Director will be admitted as Classified graduate students in the Interdisciplinary Studies program. Students who have not met all program and University prerequisites but who demonstrate potential for their successful completion will be encouraged to complete their materials and resubmit during the immediately following full semester.
1. Check our Website: www.csulb.edu/divisions/aa/grad_undergrad/isp/ to see if you might qualify for an Interdisciplinary Studies Program of study.
2. Make a formal application to the University for Admissions, and a separate application to the ISP Director.
3. Make an appointment for a preliminary interview with the Director of ISP in FO5 room 208. For this interview, prepare a written proposal three to four pages in length, which:
A. Identifies by title the interdisciplinary program of study in which you wish to engage (i.e., Interdisciplinary Studies Master's Degree in . . . [Indicate a description with no more than a total of 30 characters];
B. Explaining why this course of study cannot be pursued in one existing department with electives from other departments;
C. Explaining how this program relates to your educational and career goals;
D. Indicating your background, both academic and experiential, for undertaking this course of study; and
E. After meeting with the Department Graduate Advisor from each of the relevant departments, develop a program of study of CSULB courses appropriate to your goals.
4. Make a second appointment to meet with the Interdisciplinary Studies Director. Bring your proposal for review and approval. If the proposal is found promising and University facilities can support the proposed program of study, the Interdisciplinary Studies Director will direct you to the appropriate forms and guidelines necessary to proceed with application to the program as outlined in item 5 below.
5. Complete the Student Program form for the Masters’ Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies provided online at the ISP website. Have each of the Department Graduate Advisors from the relevant departments sign this form indicating their approval of your program of study. Submit the proposal, the Prerequisite Check Sheet for the Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, the Student Program for the Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, to the Interdisciplinary Studies Director. These materials constitute the Application for a Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. These materials are reviewed by the Interdisciplinary Studies Director whose signature on the Student Program for the Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies signals acceptance of an applicant to the program. Subsequent modification of an approved Student Program requires approval of the relevant department Graduate Advisors, and the Interdisciplinary Studies Director, on an official Change of Program form to be obtained from the Interdisciplinary Studies Director. It should be noted that all necessary prerequisite courses must be completed before taking courses listed on the Graduate program of Study.
Advancement to Candidacy
Advancement to candidacy is formally approved by the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs-Curriculum and Advising, of the Student Program for the Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Graduate students are apprised of their advancement or failure to be advanced by the Associate Vice President for Graduate and Undergraduate Programs. Any modifications to the Student Program after advancement to candidacy require the approval of the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Committee, the Interdisciplinary Studies Director, and the Associate Vice President for Graduate and Undergraduate Programs on an official Addendum to Program form to be obtained from the Interdisciplinary Studies Director. Students must have advanced to candidacy at least one full semester prior to graduation, but should do so sooner.
In addition to university requirements, the student must have completed all program courses with no grade less than “C”. Students must have fulfilled the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) and should make an appointment with the Interdisciplinary Studies Director for Advancement upon completion of at least six units of 500 or 600 level courses.
The Interdisciplinary Studies Director will submit an Interdisciplinary Studies graduate student's program for advancement to candidacy when the following conditions apply:
1. Satisfactory completion of all prerequisite course work with a minimum 3.0 GPA (see item 3 in Prerequisites above) as well as any additional prerequisites (i.e., departmental qualifying exams);
2. Completion of a minimum of six units of graduate-level (500-600) program work with a 3.0 GPA;
3. Fulfillment of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR);
4. Approval by the Interdisciplinary Studies Director of the completed Application for Thesis and Committee Form for thesis option programs;
5. Resolution of all incomplete grades (I) on the record;
6. A cumulative 3.0 GPA in all completed program work;
7. Current enrollment in University course work.
1. A minimum of 60% of the units required for the degree must come from the "Primary department" and be in the 500 and 600 level series. The number of units required for the degree shall be the number of units approved on the individual student's program (minimum 30 units).
A. No fewer than 18 units shall be at the 500-600 level to complete residency at CSULB. Extension 500-600 level courses are not acceptable on the Interdisciplinary Studies graduate program towards residency;
B. No more than 60% of total course work may be taken in any one department;
C. Where appropriate, a research methodology course taken in the area of focus must be included in the graduate student's Program of Study.
D. No less than 15 units shall be completed within a Primary department (The Primary department is normally the degree-issuing department);
E. Up to six units of approved extension or transfer units may be used in fulfillment of the student’s program of study. Nine units of extension credit may be used if all nine have been taken at CSULB. These limits may be increased further for degrees requiring more than 30 units that:
1) at least 24 units have been taken in residence at CSULB; and
2) no graduate student program may use extension or transfer credit to satisfy the requirement that at least 60% of the total units be taken at the 500 and 600 levels.
F. No more than three units of independent study in addition to Thesis on a minimum 30-unit program.
1) Exceptions to this regulation are as follows:
a) Up to six units of independent study in addition to Thesis may be permitted in a minimum 30-unit program when the projected studies are not to be taken in the same department and when the focus of each projected independent study is clearly distinct from the other (as evidenced on the Independent Study Agreement); forms should be submitted with all other materials constituting the Application for a Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (see item 3, under Acceptance Procedures above), and when each independent study is justified by the student's graduate committee as programmatically essential;
b) In excess of six units of independent study in addition to Thesis may be permitted only in cases when an Interdisciplinary Studies graduate program exceeds the minimum 30 units; when the focus of each projected study is clearly distinct from any others; and when each study is justified by the student’s graduate advisors as programmatically essential. Programs with more than six units of independent study will be referred to the Interdisciplinary Studies Advisory Board for final approval.
2. Successful completion of a Thesis or Comprehensive Exam. The selection of the Thesis or Comprehensive examination option will be made by the student, if such an option is available in the Primary department identified in the Graduate Student Program of study. If no option is available, the student will comply with the culminating requirements of the Primary department.
3. Students electing to write a thesis must enroll for thesis credit in their Primary department (the Primary department identified in their Graduate Student program of study);
4. Students opting to write a thesis must identify a thesis committee by the beginning of their second full semester of graduate study, complete a thesis proposal form, and submit it to the ISP director. The Thesis Committee must include a chair (from the primary department) and at least one representative faculty member from each of the disciplines included in the student’s Graduate Program of Study. A thesis committee shall contain no fewer than three members, at least two of which must be tenure-track CSULB faculty. The chair of the committee must be a tenured, or tenure-track faculty member.
5. All requirements of the degree program must be completed within seven years of the date when the program was initiated (i.e., no course on the program at the time of graduation may be more than seven years old).
Requirements for the Master of Science Degree
The basic requirements and application procedures for the Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies shall be the same as the Master of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. One distinction, however, is commonly a requirement by the programs that issue a Masters of Science degree that the culminating activity be a thesis. Students will follow the exit requirements of their Primary department.