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Our Program

Nearly 50 Years of Successfully Combining Academic Rigour and Flexibility! The YorkU MA in Interdisciplinary Studies—one of the first formalized graduate programs in Canada—enables highly motivated students to study within three distinct disciplines in order to deeply explore a particular problem or phenomenon.

Program Structure

Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) is as unique as the students who seek us out! The structure we set out below is meant to enable a combination of academic rigour and flexibility. Each IS student’s vision of an intellectual and/or creative project is an individualized programme of study and research, which is not predetermined by departmental or disciplinary expectation.  

To earn the Interdisciplinary Studies MA degree students are required to accumulate 18 graduate course credits, write a thesis proposal, participate in IS programme workshops, present a colloquium on research in progress, complete a thesis and defend it at oral examination. Applicants may choose the 2-year programme of study and research as full-time students or the 3-year part-time option.  

Students elect any three recognized fields of inquiry each taught and researched at York. Successful applicants normally take a course in each of those three disciplines, with their fourth course being a practicum, a research methodology course, a directed reading or another option collaboratively chosen with their supervisory team. The course work is completed during the first year of full-time studies or during the first and second years of part-time studies.  

To ensure successful passage from proposal to thesis, every IS student is required to deliver a public presentation of their research in progress as part of the program’s annual Colloquium Series. This series provides an opportunity for IS students to share and discuss research in progress with other students and faculty. It takes place over several weeks every winter term, between late February and early April. Full-time students present in their second year, part-time students in their third year.  

Each IS student works with a committee of three full supervisors, each of whom must be qualified to teach and oversee research at the graduate level as members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Each supervisor represents one of three different disciplines pertinent to the student’s chosen topic of inquiry. IS students meet with supervisors individually and with the supervisory committee as a whole. Students are responsible for arranging these meetings, providing agendas and keeping accurate minutes. Once approved, the minutes of the full-committee meetings eventuate in interim and annual reports on the student’s progress through the programme.  

At any given time, one supervisor serves as coordinating chair of the supervisory committee. The current coordinating chair represents the full supervisory committee at the colloquium presentation of a student’s research in progress and on the committee examining the MA thesis at oral defence. Full-time funded students are also appointed as paid graduate assistants to their supervisors, to work within strictly mandated limits on projects that complement their own programs of study and research. 

The career of every IS student culminates in the completion of an independently researched and academically innovative MA thesis, which is subject to defence at oral examination. Historically, the program’s understanding of the word ‘thesis’ has been flexible. IS students may choose to produce either a conventional manuscript-based written MA Thesis (about 120 pages) or an MA Thesis that combines a creative component with a shorter conventional manuscript-based written work (about 80 pages). The creative component may draw singly or in combination upon any discursive, performing, visual and/or artisanal arts and crafts. Through this, the conventional manuscript-based written component provides a scholarly framework for the creative component. The programme culminates in a full oral defence, with an external examiner, an inside arms-length examiner and one examiner from their supervisory team. 

Learn More

The Graduate Programme in Interdisciplinary Studies at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Programme Administrator to learn more.