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How are PhDs in "Interdisciplinary Studies" or "Individual Studies" (i.e. create-your-own PhD major/combination of two fields) viewed on the job market as compared to standard disciplinary PhDs? I've heard it's not as good, but is it significantly worse? Specifically for the humanities/social sciences, not hard STEM.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was originally considering some interdisciplinary PhD programs, and honestly might still be, so I can give you the advice I was given by my undergrad professors, since I asked three different professors a bunch of these questions... The gist that I got was that it really depends on the prestige of the school, and how you can spin your dissertation into something that helps you fit into a specific humanities department. But, the name of the degree does carry some weight (ex. having an English PhD looks better to English departments than having an interdisciplinary PhD in which you used skills that you would use in an English PhD). I've also heard from them that sometimes these departments are less cohesive-- if we consider universities as the neoliberal institutions that they are, these sorts of departments are often a money-saving measure. Professors within them might not know each other or communicate with each other as well as professors in a traditional humanities department.

I would also argue that many humanities programs tend to be fairly interdisciplinary at this point anyway-- you can usually take courses in other humanities departments, and your dissertation can certainly include elements from multiple fields, so long as, say for example, your English PhD dissertation is at least reasonably focused around literary analysis/theory. I was advised into the recent dissertations coming out of different humanities programs as well as Professor interests to see if there are programs where you feel you could explore your interdisciplinary interests while also having a degree that might look more attractive to departments during the hiring process. For me personally, I have been looking into English programs that have strong faculty in using a continental philosophy lens for literary analysis. But of course don't check specifically interdisciplinary programs off your list if it really is where you think you would fit in best and have the most fruitful experience! Hope some of this was helpful :)

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