Interdisciplinary Ph.D

Scope:  Who is Covered by this Policy?

Graduate Students


The Graduate School can authorize a special committee to supervise an interdisciplinary doctoral program for students whose needs cannot be met within an established program. Special Committee Degrees are “interdisciplinary degrees” that have unique requirements for each student. Special Committee Degrees are “one of a kind” degrees built around the unique needs of individual students that cannot be satisfied by approved existing programs and may permit degrees in new and emerging fields or combinations of disciplines. A higher degree of independence is required on the part of the student, since easily-provided guidance from departments is more difficult to obtain, and there is not the usual collegial group of students in closely-related research and course work. The Special Committee Doctoral Degree is reserved for those departments granted the authority to offer the doctoral degree by Miami University and the Ohio Board of Regents.

Prospective students who may have an interest in a Special Committee Doctoral Degree should apply to the department of the degree program that is most central to their major area of interest. The student must meet the admission requirements of the department to which the application is submitted.

Students may be admitted directly to a Special Committee Degree program or enter the interdisciplinary program later. At least twelve (12) credit hours must be remaining in the students’ program when their special committee degree proposal is submitted. The prospective student’s application must be endorsed by the home department and three potential committee members drawn from Level A faculty from within the home department or from across the University. Special Committee members can be drawn from non-doctoral departments. The Special Committee must consist of not less than five members, with no more than half (higher whole number) being drawn from any one department.

The chairperson (or in the case of co-chairs, one of the co-chairs) must be a member of the department to which the student had originally been admitted. The admitting department should remain the keeper of the student’s records, and should make all appropriate nominations for financial support.

The Special committee is responsible for helping the student develop a plan of study to be submitted to the home department for its approval. That plan of study may be at significant variance with normal departmental requirements so long as it is approved following the established procedures of the home department.

Students must be accepted into a doctoral-degree-granting department, establish at least one semester of full-time graduate work, and then submit a proposal for a special committee degree. The one-page proposal should include (in the following order):

  1. Names of two faculty members, in addition to the students’ major professor(s), who will supervise their course of study.
  2. Explanation of why their needs cannot be met within existing programs and why the special committee degree program is needed.
  3. Proposed course of study.
  4. Their committee’s recommendation for an examination procedure that assures adequate in-depth coverage.

Students should check with the Graduate School and the faculty with whom they are interested in working for guidance in requesting a special committee for a program of study. Special committee members can be from non-doctoral departments, but must have Level A standing on the Graduate Faculty. Students’ course of study may vary from normal departmental requirements, as long as it is approved within the established procedures of the department. After their three committee members and department endorse the proposal, it is submitted to the Graduate School.

The Special Committee is governed by the expectations and regulations of the Graduate School as prescribed in the Miami Bulletin and A Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty.

Related Form(s)

Not Applicable.

Additional Resources and Procedures

Not Applicable.


Not Applicable.

Policy Administration

Next Review Date


Responsible Officer


Legal Authority

Not Applicable.

Compliance Policy


Revision History


Reference ID

Graduate Handbook 4.6

Reviewing Bodies

  • Administrative
  • University Senate