Program Proposal

As part of the application process for the Interdisciplinary Studies Program you will work with your supervisor to develop a program proposal that the Indisciplinary Studies Committee will review. Your program proposal should include the following:

Cover Page

Applicant Name; Proposal Title; Date; Concentration Area (only if applicable)

Table of Contents

  1. Research Statement
  2. Letter from Supervisor
  3. Coursework
  4. Required Program Elements
  5. Student Advisory Committee
  6. Funding and Resources
  7. Appendices
  8. Correspondence

1. Research Statement

1.1 Problem statement
What is the problem that you wish to study? What is the context for this problem? How does this problem fit into the current literature?

1.2 Describe why an interdisciplinary approach is required

Interdisciplinarity suggests establishing connections across, or the hybridization of techniques, tools, or theories from, different disciplines in order to advance understanding beyond the scope of a single discipline. It can also suggest creating “undisciplined” spaces between disciplines, or working to transcend disciplinary boundaries altogether. Interdisciplinary approaches take on issues, problems, or creative projects that cannot be adequately addressed within a single discipline, or even multi disciplines (ICCC).

How will your work fit within the description above?

How will the separate disciplines work together to provide you with the skills required to achieve your academic goals?

This is a critical element in the proposal because:

    • If a student is able to do their graduate work through an existing program, this is the preferred approach. The InterD program is not meant to replace existing graduate programs. 

    • Students need to be able to clearly articulate what is interdisciplinary about the research they wish to do, since the nature of the interdisciplinarity influences the selection of a Supervisor, the composition your Student Advisory Committee (SAC), the selection of courses, and the nature of the research that is undertaken. Interdisciplinarity is not to be confused with being interested in many things. Rather, interdisciplinarity is about the way that questions are asked. It involves using two or more different methodologies or approaches (e.g., an economics approach and a sociological approach) to address a single question or problem.

1.3 Initial ideas concerning the research methodology to be employed
It is important that students have an idea of the research procedures that they will be using, because the choice of course work and the selection of your Student Advisory Committee (SAC) will be influenced by this. You will not be expected to have done the background work necessary to identify specific research methodology, and students are able to alter their research methodology as their program progresses, with the appropriate approval by the SAC. But, some sense of the methodology and scope of the project is is particularly important in interdisciplinary work where students have to develop a familiarity with the literature and methodologies in a number of areas.

2. Letter from Supervisor

  • Explanation as to why this research and program of study is Interdisciplinary and why it could not be conducted within a program in an individual department.
  • Any funding, support arrangements and facilities resources (office space, laboratory and equipment, computer facilities) that will be available to the student.
  • Supervisor has read the research proposal, provided input to its development, they support the proposal, and they accept responsibility for managing the program.

3. Course Work

  • List all courses to be taken and briefly outline the role of each course in the proposed program. For Masters students the minimum number of credit units required is 12, while for PhD students there is no minimum. However, students often take more than the minimum in order to develop the required background and expertise in the areas necessary for their research work.

  • Although students are expected to take regularly scheduled graduate courses whenever possible, they will often require special topics or reading courses (e.g., 898's) as part of their program. While special topics courses can be included as part of a student's program, students must outline the importance of these courses to their program. 

  • Include a list of the proposed special topics courses. They do not need to be approved at admission, but professors are required to provide a written statement indicating willingness to offer the course and that approval will be sought at the appropriate time.  These statements should be included in the Appendices.

4. Required Program Elements

4.1  INTD 990

  • Students must must be registered in this seminar every fall & winter term.
  • Masters students are required to attend a minimum of 6 seminar presentations, and must make 1 presentation.
  • PhD students are required to attend a minimum of 9 seminar presentations, and must make 2 presentations.

4.2  INTD 994 (Masters students) or INTD 996 (PhD Students)
Students must be registered in one of these every term until they have defended their thesis.

4.3  GSR 960 (all graduate students must take and pass this online ethics course)

4.4  GSR 961 (if research involves human subjects) &/or 962 (if research involves animal subjects)

4.5  Ethics Approval (if applicable):

Ethics approval is essential in academic research and all students must be familiar with the issues around ethics approval. Actual ethics approval is not required at the time of application, but to signal that they understand the ethics issues in their research students must include a statement in their proposal that outlines either: 

  • That ethics approval will not be required for their proposed research and why; or
  • The procedure that will be used to obtain ethics approval for the proposed research program.

NOTE: Should the research program change in a manner that requires ethics approval, students will be required to obtain approval at that time.

4.6  Qualifying and Comprehensive Exam (applicable only to PhD students)

  • PhD students need to provide a statement about the nature and timing of the Qualifying and Comprehensive Examinations. Some students will have specific information as a result of discussions with their proposed supervisor and/or SAC. Others may not and a common approach is for students to indicate in their proposal that the SAC will make a decision on the nature and timing of these exams at an early meeting. For additional information on these examinations see Exam Guidelines.

5. Student Advisory Committee (SAC)

The student, in consultation with the research supervisor, will determine the membership of their Student Advisory Committee (SAC) as part of the application process.

  • One of the members serves as the Committee Chair and one of the members is the student's supervisor and/or co-supervisor (co-supervisors count as one person)
  • The SAC Chair should have experience with graduate programs and not be involved in the specific research to be done by the student.
  • Committee members must represent at least two (2) or more departments or colleges.
  • Masters students SAC should consist of a Supervisor, Chair, and 2 other members
  • PhD students SAC should consist of a Supervisor, Chair, and 3 other members

Outline the membership and structure of the proposed SAC, and describe the expertise and contribution provided by each of the proposed members. Learn more details on the role and responsibilities of the SAC.

6. Funding & Resources

  • Letter from the proposed supervisor's Department Head, or Dean, confirming the physical resources needed for the proposed program are available (e.g. space, laboratory and equipment, access to computer facilities, library resources, research and publication funds, travel, etc.).
  • If the student is self-funded, a statement from the student to this effect is required.  Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships, teaching fellowships or other awards.
  • If the student is provided with a graduate stipend, a statement indicating the amount, source and duration of the funding is required.

7. Appendices

7.1.  CV or Resume

  • Students must include an up-to-date CV or resume detailing their academic careers to this point.

7.2. Proof of English Language Proficiency

  • Where required, students must have official evidence of proficiency in English sent directly from the testing agency to the Interdisciplinary Program. 

7.3.  References

  • Three references are required. Each referee must complete a reference form generated by the online application process. These forms will be forwarded by your referees directly to the Interdisciplinary Studies office.
  • Students should leave a blank section in the proposal for the Interdisciplinary Office to insert the references.

7.4.  Special Topics Courses (INTD 898)

  • This section should include a written statement from each faculty member offering a special topics courses confirming they are willing to offer the course and that they will obtain approval for the course at the appropriate time (applications for approval of Special Topics courses are made separately and can be done after admission).

8. Correspondence

  • A detailed note from each committee member indicating that they have read the proposal, agree to serving on the committee, and how their expertise will benefit the students research.

  • Statement from the candidate explaining how he/she sees the outcome of their research being Interdisciplinary, and how this research could not happen in any defined discipline. This statement should also include a note stating that candidate agrees to the above noted arrangements.