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Hello all,

I'd like to begin by apologizing if my question has been answered in another thread. If so, I'd definitely appreciate a link to any posts regarding my question. I'm currently double majoring in philosophy and international studies at the University of Kansas and I'm beginning the graduate school search. My initial thought was to focus on something strictly revolving around international relations, but the more I think about it the more I realize that my love for philosophy and literature is too strong to simply end my academic study of them. My question is this: what interdisciplinary graduate programs revolve around issues touched in political science, philosophy, comparative literature, history, cultural studies, etc? A few programs that I've stumbled upon are the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU and the Modern Thought and Literature Program at Stanford. Could anyone direct me to more programs of the same style or suggest other possible alternatives to meet my interests? Moreover, any details about the acceptance rate/requirements of any of these programs would be much appreciated. Thanks a lot.

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My question is this: what interdisciplinary graduate programs revolve around issues touched in political science, philosophy, comparative literature, history, cultural studies, etc?

You are definitely right to think that an interdisciplinary program might better serve your interests; however, I think that you can only really find the right program if you have an idea of what your long-term goals are. Do you plan to stay in the academy or do you want to go on to work in a conventionally professional field? Do you plan to apply to terminal MA programs or PhD programs or both? Do you have an idea of what your thesis might be? That last question is probably the most important, since SOP for interdisciplinary programs generally ask for a specific area or subject that you plan to focus on during your time as a student.

I found that in order to meet the application requirements for true "interdisciplinary" programs (DIY curricula, individualized study) that I devoted most of the space in my SOP to what could also be considered a research proposal. I am already in at Draper, but faculty at other programs (CUNY MALS, NSSR MALS, NYU Gallatin) have all expected me to come prepared with a plan for my work; otherwise, how do they know that you are a good fit for the department? If you aren't going into area studies (Asian Studies, American Studies, etc) they want students with interests that truly fall far outside of the realm of other departments, and can be best served by taking classes in multiple disciplines...

So once you decide on what you specifically want to accomplish as a graduate student, you should be able to judge what programs are right for you by looking at available faculty (will you have access to professors in your field?) and by gauging just how independently you'd like to study....

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1. Why do you want/need to go to graduate school?

2. What do you want your degree to do for you?

pomo is right that the key to interdisciplinary programs--both admission to, and especially success in--is a relatively focused project that cannot be accomplished, or could only be accomplished with much difficulty, within a single discipline. You may very well have one in mind that you simply didn't mention, but on the basis of this post alone, I'm wondering how seriously you have thought about what you want out of a graduate degree. It appears that you simply tossed up a bunch of ideas of things you really like studying right now and don't want to give up. Okay, that's great, I'm so on board with that, but that's not a great reason to go to graduate school given the job market for humanities and humanities-ish PhDs (which is where your interests are circling). It is significantly harder to get an academic job with an interdisciplinary degree except for a handful of very well-known programs. In general, unless you are looking at one of them--Stanford MTL might qualify, but I honestly have no idea so don't quote me on that--or you are doing a PhD for the hell of it and have infinite wealth to back you up for the rest of your life, you should try absolutely everything in your power to make your topic fit into a traditional discipline.

The good news is that disciplinary boundaries in graduate school are often surprisingly flexible (Nb: I say this as a person doing a PhD in an interdisciplinary program). I suspect that you might find a home for your project in English/comp lit or history, depending on the era and region in which you are interested. English/Anglophone literature in particular encompasses very nearly everything; the differences you see in scholarship often relate more to methodology than to subject matter.

It's all and good to want to read and know lots about lots. I *love* my program; I would *love* to do the coursework for a PhD in each of the disciplines my own work draws on. That said, even my dept requires us to pick a discipline, concentrate our classes in it, rely on methodologies that satisfy its general guidelines for what makes a persuasive argument (very different between, say, English and philosophy), etc.

As a final note, my impression is that philosophy is less conducive to interdisciplinary work than other fields. History--my own basis--it really depends on the era and region. I like history because it tends to be the most expansive in terms of topics covered, but you'll run into obvious problems if you want to look at the modern world. ;) The English lit people in medieval and early modern really do just about everything (although their methodologies can be...um, questionable on occasion. says the historian), so if you interests are in that era-area it might be a great fit.

The basic way to look for grad programs is to consider what journal articles and academic books you find most inspiring. Who does the kind of work you want to do? (Assuming you are looking at a hopeful position in academia) Where do they teach, what department do they teach in, where did they do their own doctoral work? That should give you a basic idea of what departments and schools you should be looking at.

Don't get me wrong, I believe very strongly in interdisciplinary scholarshipand interdisciplinary programs alike. But you need to make it work for you, and that takes more than a general feeling of "But all of this is JUST SO COOL." (Keep that feeling. Guard it with your life. But you also need a plan.)

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