Interdisciplinary Studies

Admission Requirements | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

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Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

The Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) is an interdisciplinary approach to university studies. The program combines the development of critical thinking, writing, and research abilities with the study of specialized knowledge in two complementary disciplines. Students pursuing the MAIS degree choose program emphases and design unique curricula in consultation with the MAIS graduate program coordinator.

The MAIS degree is designed for persons who wish to continue their liberal education at the graduate level or add breadth to a more specialized undergraduate degree. The communication skills, critical thinking skills, and interdisciplinary methodology gained in the program are not only valuable in themselves but attractive to a wide range of employers as well. For more information, visit the program’s website.

Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA (4.0 scale) for all undergraduate work. Candidates with a lower GPA may be considered for conditional admission.
  • Written statement of 500 to 1,000 words describing the applicant’s academic and/or professional background and preparation as well as specific interests for disciplines of study and interdisciplinary goals within the MAIS program.
  • Two recommendation letters addressing the candidate’s background and potential for success in graduate study (letters may come from various sources; academic reference are preferred. If candidate has no academic references, contact graduate coordinator to discuss other options). In addition to the letters, applicants will provide contact information for three references (names, addresses, phone numbers, email if applicable, and relationship to applicant). Two of these should be the reference letter writers. The reference contacts should also be academic or professional.
  • Submission of a writing sample, to follow either A or B below:

A: Applicant will submit an academic paper that was written in the last 5 years, between 5 and 10 double-spaced pages in length (if the paper is longer than 10 pages, applicant may send an excerpted version with brief explanation of overall project);

B: Applicants who do not have an academic paper written in the last 5 years will submit an essay of 1500-1800 words, responding to either question 1 or 2 below (applicant’s choice):

1. If you could have written one scholarly work or produced one artistic work that is well known in your primary discipline of interest, what would it be? Describe the work and explain why.

2. Which course in your academic career to date has been the most important for your intellectual or artistic/creative development? Explain why.

  • Possible interview with the program coordinator or admissions committee.
Transfer Work

No more than nine credit hours of appropriate graduate course work taken at another institution may be transferred into the program. The MAIS graduate coordinator will determine whether or not graduate courses taken at UALR prior to admission to the program will count toward the 36 hours required.

Program Requirements

The MAIS degree requires 36 credit hours of graduate course work, 40%, (15 hours) of which can be at the 5000 level. The requirements are as follows:

Core Courses

IDST 7310 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies: Three hours
IDST 7390 Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium: Three hours
Courses in one ALS or SSC discipline: 15 hours
Courses in one or two other disciplines: Nine hours
IDST 8310 and IDST 8320 Thesis/Final Project: Six consecutive hours

Courses for the primary area in MAIS come from a discipline within the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences (ALS) or the College of Social Sciences and Communication (SSC), and will include research methodology and practice in the discipline. Please see the MAIS program website for details about which disciplines are available. Note that individual departments enforce prerequisite requirements for course work and may have other restrictions.

Students are encouraged to check with the department(s) in which they are interested for details on graduate-level course offerings. The nine hours of the secondary area are to be chosen from graduate course offerings in one (or two) other complementary disciplines. Any of the ALS and SSC departments listed above can provide the secondary nine-hour segment. These nine hours may, with permission of the program coordinator, be outside ALS and SCC.

Program Options

The MAIS degree allows the student to design a curriculum that includes a variety of graduate level courses. The combination of a primary discipline with one or two adjunct areas allows for greater breadth and the ability to focus on a particular problem or a subject that does not fit within traditional academic disciplines. Interested students should contact the MAIS coordinator to discuss the many options within the program.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available. Refer to the Graduate School website for general information about Graduate Assistantships and the MAIS website for further details.


Graduation Requirements

The MAIS degree requires successful completion of an approved program of study (as outlined in “Program Requirements”) and a final project or thesis, including a formal oral defense.


Courses in Interdisciplinary Studies

IDST 7310 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies
This course will help students refine their abilities to read and think critically, to understand and make effective arguments, to study and practice research techniques, and to communicate effectively in writing. Students will study interdisciplinary processes and formulate an interdisciplinary research project. A sampling of texts from various disciplines will be considered from an interdisciplinary perspective. The course is only offered in the fall.

IDST 7390 Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium
Prerequisite: IDST 7310. The colloquium has a general course topic and focuses on interdisciplinary reading, writing, and research. The course helps students to sharpen their abilities to communicate effectively across disciplines by sharing data, research methods, and writing techniques. Students will participate in active dialogue in the classroom by presenting and interdisciplinary research project on the selected class topic. MAIS students should enroll after completing IDST 7310 and 9 hours of graduate credit. Students outside the program may enroll only with consent of instructor. This course will be offered each spring.

IDST 7396 Special Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies
Discussion, directed readings, research, writing on selected issues in interdisciplinary studies. Topics vary each semester. May be repeated once with new topic.

IDST 8310, 8320 Interdisciplinary Studies Thesis/Final Project
Students will complete six hours of consecutive thesis/final project coursework as agreed upon by the student, the program coordinator, and the student’s thesis/final project committee.