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Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies

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The Interdisciplinary Studies master’s program is intended to encourage studies of an interdisciplinary nature. It provides students with an opportunity to pursue independent, innovative research which bridges disciplinary categories. Each student works closely with scholars in fields related to a research topic. There is a wide range of interdisciplinary topics which may be proposed for study, including combinations which embrace fine arts and the sciences, the social sciences, humanities and law; in fact, students may draw from any of the existing Faculties at York. Successful application depends on the viability of the topic proposed and the availability of supervisors and resources.

Admission Requirements

Master of Arts Program

Students should apply as early as possible because places are limited, and because much time is required to set up a coherent, individualized program of study. Applicants are expected to accept or decline admission within one month of the date of the offer of admission. Application forms and further information, including deadlines, are available online, or may be obtained from the Graduate Admissions Office, P.O. Box GA2300, Bennett Centre for Student Services Centre, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3, Canada; telephone: (416) 736-5000.

Applicants are expected to meet with the Graduate Program Director, either in person or remotely via video software, to discuss their proposals. Applicants are asked to make an appointment through the Graduate Program Assistant at (416) 736-5126; or Program offices are located at 227 Vanier College, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3, Canada.

To be considered for admission as a candidate a student must have an honours degree from a recognized university, with an A or B+ standing or with equivalent qualifications. In consideration of acceptable qualifications, evidence of satisfactory studies and/or other relevant experience, portfolios of work, letters of recommendation, and results of tests are taken into account. Applicants are required to submit a draft thesis proposal that integrates three fields of study, and a list of graduate faculty members who are willing to serve on the supervisory committee. See the general admission requirements in the Faculty Regulations for further information.

Between the time of the student’s application for admission and registration as a candidate, the Graduate Program Director presides over the formation of a supervisory committee of three members of the graduate Faculty selected according to the academic interests of the student. The supervisory committee and the student together plan an appropriate program of study. Each student’s plan of work must be approved by the supervisory committee before registration.

No student may work towards a degree in any single subject through the Interdisciplinary program; if the student’s interests fall within the range of established programs of a disciplinary nature, the application is referred to the relevant admissions committee.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts Program

MA Degree by Thesis

To ensure coherence in a candidate’s studies and a sufficient integration of the various fields, a thesis on an interdisciplinary topic is the focus of the student’s program. The thesis should demonstrate the candidate’s originality and understanding of the area of investigation.

Apart from the thesis, candidates must fulfil the following requirements:

a) Successfully complete 18 course credits, or the equivalent, at the graduate level selected in consultation with the supervisory committee. Typically students take 3.0 credits in each of their three disciplines and 3.0 credits in a research methodology course if doing research involving human subjects for their thesis. One of these courses may be a directed reading course.

b) Six of the 18 course credits are the program’s compulsory Interdisciplinary Studies 5000A 3.0: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies 5000B 3.0: Theory/Practice. Interdisciplinary Studies 5000A 3.0 is open throughout a student’s enrolment in the Interdisciplinary Studies program; in it, students are expected to participate in regular discussions on their specific areas of study with their supervisory committees. These discussions serve the function of an interdisciplinary seminar and are graded as a regular course. This course and its grade are evaluated by the student’s supervisors: the grade is based upon a student’s commitment to their supervisory meetings and preparedness for these meetings, their thesis proposal, colloquium presentation and oral examination.

With respect to Interdisciplinary Studies 5000B 3.0: Theory/Practice, this foundational Interdisciplinary Studies course studies interdisciplinary theory and practice as well as requiring students engage in activities that professionalize their interdisciplinary work. It examines representative ways of thinking in interdisciplinary terms and selected methodological approaches to interdisciplinary research, which students apply to their own intellectual or artistic praxis. This course requires students work, sometimes in groups, to professionalize their academic development: prepare colloquia, theses/defences, write proposals and give conference presentations, submit publications for review, apply for grants, format CVs, submit job applications. This course is graded as pass/fail at its finish.

Normally all students enrolled in the program must meet with their supervisors at least once a month and with the full supervisory committee at least once each term.

The MA program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Entry is fall term.

Candidates registered as full-time in their first year are normally expected to complete the requirements for the MA in Interdisciplinary Studies within two years. Those registered part-time in their first year normally do so in three years. For an extension of these time limits, students must petition the program and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

For those students who complete degree requirements earlier than 3 terms, they must register and pay fees for a minimum of the equivalent of 3 terms of full-time study. All requirements for a master’s degree must be fulfilled within 12 terms (4 years) of registration as a full-time or part-time master’s student in accordance with Faculty of Graduate Studies’ registration policies.

There is no foreign language requirement for the MA in Interdisciplinary Studies, but a candidate’s supervisory committee may require the candidate to demonstrate a reading knowledge of such languages as are necessary to enable the student to use the major secondary and primary sources relevant to the thesis. When appropriate, other skills or preparatory courses (e.g., statistics, computer science, research methods) may be required in addition to other course requirements.