Policy Revisions to the Individual Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that on October 19, 2023, the Washington State University Faculty Senate unanimously passed significant updates to the policies governing our Individual Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program (IIDP). First established in 1983, WSU’s IIDP has been a leader in supporting students and providing them valuable opportunities as they work within a program tailored to their interests via integrating the knowledge of multiple disciplines. With these most recent updates, IIDP now aligns with similar programs at other universities as well as further improves the graduate student experience.

One of the most significant changes to IIDP is shifting from requiring the participation of graduate faculty from three or more programs to requiring only two or more, acknowledging the evolving interdisciplinary nature of most academic fields. Additional policy updates include modifying the requirements of the student’s graduate advisory committee to include four faculty members from at least two distinct disciplines, streamlining the committee formation process. Changes to improve the qualifying and preliminary exam processes were also made.

In addition to these structural changes, the IIDP has introduced a new organizational framework featuring the formation of an Executive Committee that oversees curriculum, admission, examination, and scholarship. The Executive Committee is staffed by the Associate Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives (Arvin Sahaym, who also serves as the IIDP program director), the Associate Vice Provost of Graduate Academic Programs, and the Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Enrollment Management. The program’s mission statement has also been revised to emphasize its commitment to developing innovative researchers and leaders who address complex research questions that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries.

The application process for the IIDP has been streamlined for greater clarity and accessibility. Prospective students can now find detailed application requirements, including recommendation letters, transcripts, and a statement of purpose on the Graduate School website. This revamp aims to make the application process more transparent and user-friendly. Additionally, the dissertation format has been made more flexible to accommodate the style typical in the student’s chosen research disciplines, allowing for a broader range of dissertation formats.

These updates are part of a broader effort to enhance the IIDP’s structure and relevance in the evolving landscape of interdisciplinary academic research and to attract meritorious students. Additional changes include revisions in faculty titles to reflect current roles, updates to student learning outcomes, and the introduction of a transfer credit policy. Collectively, these changes make the IIDP more adaptable and aligned with the needs of today’s interdisciplinary researchers.

Full details are linked below.

IIDP, as part of the Graduate School, will continue to make improvements to better serve WSU’s graduate students, faculty, and staff as they pursue interdisciplinary initiatives across campuses. Suggestions for improvements may be sent directly to Arvin Sahaym or to me.

Best regards,

Tammy D. Barry
Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education