Program list & descriptions

Interdisciplinary program (INTD) ( Masters, Doctorate )

These programs involve the process of integrating knowledge, skills, data, ideas and insights from different domains of knowledge to examine a phenomenon that lies beyond the purview of a single area of knowledge and/or specific disciplines. Interdisciplinary research may also involve integrating research approaches from different domains or disciplines. The form of interdisciplinary graduate studies varies. Some programs focus on bringing two or more discrete disciplines together to address a research question. Other programs may focus on an interdisciplinary phenomenon or area of research that requires interdisciplinary knowledge development. The questions raised and explored by interdisciplinary research may lead to expanded knowledge about a phenomenon as well as new perspectives and/or areas of investigation for the disciplines themselves.

An individual interdisciplinary (INTD) degree program allows you to create your own academic program by combining interests in different fields of study.

Working with co-supervisors in at least two different academic units, you follow an individual program tailored to your own interests and designed in consultation with your supervisory committee. Or you may undertake interdisplinary studies as part of a regular existing program that is interdisciplinary in nature.

Individual interdisciplinary program

If you want to pursue research in an area not formally approved as a UVic graduate degree program, it's possible to have a unique and individual program approved for interdisciplinary study (INTD).

The INTD graduate adviser will be your key contact in Graduate Studies for the duration of your program. Be sure to contact them at before you start the process of applying for an INTD graduate program.

Admission requirements

Admission deadlines

  • May 15 for September entry
  • September 30 for January entry
  • January 31 for May entry

Application procedure

All four parts must be complete and submitted by the application deadline.

The application procedure is also available as a pdf.

Student application procedure:



Step 1:

Information gathering

  1. Read the information in the handbook for individual INTD programs.

  2. Determine that your program could not be undertaken in any established graduate program at the University of Victoria by reviewing the calendar and/or speaking with graduate advisers in departments relevant to your proposed areas of study.

  3. Make an appointment and meet with the INTD graduate adviser to discuss the INTD application process. You'll receive a fillable pdf with the program proposal application package. Please contact 250-472-5209 for an appointment. Bring a copy of your transcripts to the appointment.

Step 2:

Co-supervisors and committee formation

  1. Prepare a two to three page written description of your graduate program and research interests to inform potential supervisors of your goals.

  2. Identify potential supervisors using the faculty listings in the university calendar and departmental websites and/or in consultation with the INTD graduate adviser. Arrange meetings or contact suitable potential supervisors by phone or email.

  3. Individual INTD programs require two supervisors (co-supervisors) who are:
    • normally located in different disciplines or fields of study and in different academic units
    • members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies
    • in academic units that have an established graduate program at the master’s level, for those applying for an MA or MSc, and at the PhD level for those applying for a doctoral program

  4. Within this co-supervision arrangement an important step is to ascertain the specific role taken by each supervisor. Normally, one of the co-supervisors takes the lead administratively which requires:
    • guiding the student through the process
    • informing the student of Faculty of Graduate Studies policies and requirements
    • reviewing the student’s progress and maintaining a file to record such information 
    • serving as the administrative home for the student’s program
    • providing graduate secretarial support
    • possibly providing other potential resources to support the student and/or program of study. The nature of the specific support that will be offered by the administrative home unit to a particular student is determined and agreed upon during the application process.

  5. In addition to the co-supervisors, doctoral students must have at least one other member from a relevant field of knowledge on their supervisory committee. Therefore, the next step is to work with the co-supervisors to identify potential committee members.

    All committee members must be eligible for membership in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. If you have identified a potential member from another university, your supervisors will have to ensure that they are eligible for associate membership in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Additional committee members may be added with rationale from the co-supervisors.

  6. Contact the potential committee members to discuss your proposed program.

Step 3:

Application preparation and program development

  1. The next step is to discuss and further develop your program of studies. You and the committee will need to discuss and decide upon the required courses, candidacy plan, unit value of your proposed thesis, dissertation, or project as well as the total number of credits for your program.

    For consideration will be:
    • The precise course list will vary depending on your background, including both education and experience.
    • You may require preparatory courses in research methods, statistics, languages, etc.
    • You may be able to select your courses from the regular offerings, or may need to arrange directed studies courses to cover the relevant topics.
    • You may be required to participate in a departmental seminar course.
    • You may wish to consider courses offered at other institutions (perhaps under the terms of the Western Deans’ Agreement).
  2. Use your regular word processing program to draft the written description of the program details as outlined in the PDF application package you received from the INTD graduate adviser.

  3. Complete the fillable PDF provided by the INTD graduate adviser. Fill in part 1 of the INTD program course form, cut and paste the program detail from your word processing document into the fillable PDF document (part 2), and insert the approvals documents into the fillable PDF (part 3).

  4. Send the PDF application to your supervisory committee for their review and confirmation.

  5. While you're developing your program plan with your committee, you need to simultaneously complete the general application package for UVic Graduate Studies. As part of the application you'll need to arrange for official transcripts and two references (in addition to those provided by your co-supervisors) to be sent directly to the Graduate Admissions and Records office.

  6. Once the supervisory committee has approved the content of the PDF application, the co-supervisors write letters of support for your proposed program of study and academic ability. They'll indicate the significance of your program of study within the current scholarly context, their capacity to supervise your program given their expertise and/or the contributions they will make in supporting your academic program of study and research interests. Committee members will indicate their approval to the co-supervisors and the co-supervisors will confirm committee approval of the proposed program in their letters of support.

  7. Ensure that the PDF INTD program proposal package is complete (includes the program course form, proposal details and approvals).

  8. Submit the draft of your PDF application package to the INTD graduate adviser. The draft must be submitted to the INTD graduate adviser a minimum of one month before the application deadline.

    The adviser will review the package and contact you if there are any required revisions. Once they deem the PDF application complete, it will be forwarded on to the Director of Graduate Admissions and Records and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for review.

Step 4: Application submission

The INTD graduate adviser will give you permission to submit your application package for the individual INTD graduate program to the INTD Graduate Admissions and Records (GARO) assistant at The GARO assistant will attach your PDF program proposal to the general online application for UVic Graduate Studies that you completed in step 5 above.

*Please note that all of the above steps must be completed by the application deadline.

Application deadlines:

  • April 30 for September entry
  • September 30 for January entry
  • January 31 for May entry

Step 5: Acceptance

The INTD committee meets approximately three weeks after the application deadline to make admission decisions.

Program outline and requirements 

(a) Changes to your program

The coursework, candidacy and thesis or dissertation as outlined in the individual INTD program proposal and approved by the INTD admissions committee serves as the contractual agreement between you and the university designating the degree requirements. Therefore, any changes to a degree program or supervisory committee following admission must be formally approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. 

(b) Required and elective courses

The program may include a combination of required and elective courses. All required and elective courses must be specified on the program form. Courses may be listed as a choice or several options (e.g. one of PSYC 517, BIOL 550E or ANTH 500: 1.5 units).

Your official record will indicate the program as interdisciplinary (INTD). Any project, comprehensive examinations, thesis or dissertation will carry the prefix INTD.

The degree program can consist of appropriate INTD courses as listed below as well as regular courses from other departments:

  • INTD 580 Directed Studies
  • INTD 599 Master's Thesis
  • INTD 680 Directed Studies (PhD)
  • INTD 693 Candidacy Examination
  • INTD 699 PhD Dissertation

(c) Directed readings courses (INTD 580 for master's level and INTD 680 for PhD level)

On your application, directed readings or individual study courses must be outlined with a course title and course description (as found in the calendar for regular courses). Directed readings require a pro forma form for registration.  

(d) Western dean’s agreement

The primary purpose of this agreement is the reciprocal enrichment of graduate programs throughout Western Canada. Under its terms, graduate students of member universities may take courses at another member institution—which are not available at their home institution—for credit in their graduate programs.

(d) Transfer credit

On the recommendation of the supervisory committee and the INTD admissions committee, the Faculty of Graduate Studies may accept courses for which credit has been granted at other accredited and recognized post-secondary institutions. However, at least half of the program units must be completed as a degree candidate in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at UVic.

Eligible transfer credit will normally be assigned as part of the admission process. There is no reduction in the minimum program fee or number of fee instalments required for students who are granted transfer fee credit.

PhD individual INTD programs:

  • Programs must consist of a minimum of 30 units if you have a master’s degree, 45 units if you do not a have a master’s degree.
  • No more than 3.0 units of work at the senior baccalaureate level may be taken for credit.
  • Total credits include credit unit values of coursework, candidacy and dissertation combined.
  • The PhD thesis (INTD 699) must count for between 15.0 and 30.0 units.
  • The program must include INTD 693 (candidacy examination): 3.0 units.

(a) Supervisory committee

  • Faculty members from two academic units must be designated as academic co-supervisors.
  • In addition to the co-supervisors, the supervisory committee must also include at least one other member from a relevant field of study.
  • Any changes to a supervisory committee must be made in writing and approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

(b) Candidacy examinations (INTD 693)

The candidacy exam is intended to demonstrate a student’s knowledge of their field of study and their ability to undertake the research.

A description of the specific candidacy plan for the proposed program must be included in the program proposal. It must be successfully completed within the first three years of your registration.

The candidacy exam includes both a written and oral component. The format of the examination may vary based on the specific circumstances.

About the written component:

  • It is intended to provide a foundation for the future research project.
  • The format will normally include two or more papers outlining the scholarly context and relevant research methodology or a plan outlining the proposed research for the PhD dissertation that includes a summary of relevant existing research and literature and a bibliography.
  • Alternative models, if deemed necessary, will be decided upon during the first semester of the student’s registration.
  • A copy is distributed to the supervisory committee for approval prior to the oral exam.

About the oral examination:

  • The exam begins with a presentation of the research topic, including its relevance to the current scholarly context.
  • The presentation is followed with questions related to the written submission and planned research.

(c) The dissertation (INTD 699):

  • The dissertation must embody original work and constitute a significant contribution to knowledge in the candidate’s field of study.
  • It should contain evidence of broad knowledge of the relevant literature, and demonstrate a critical understanding of the works of scholars closely related to the subject of the dissertation.
  • Material embodied in the dissertation should, in the opinion of scholars in the field, merit publication.
  • The general form and style may vary but all dissertations shall be presented in a form which constitutes an integrated submission.
  • It may include materials already published by the candidate, whether alone or in conjunction with others.
  • Previously published materials must be integrated into the dissertation, while at the same time distinguish the student’s own work from the work of other researchers.

(d) Time allowed

An INTD PhD is normally completed in three to five years and must be completed within seven years.

MA or MSc individual INTD programs

  • Master’s degrees must consist of a minimum of 15 units, 12 of which must be at graduate level.
  • Courses numbered at the 100 and 200 level may be included in the program as prerequisites but will be indicated on the student's record as FNC (For No Credit on a graduate program).
  • Any senior undergraduate courses (courses numbered 300-499) included must be pertinent to the program. They must be in addition to the minimum 12 units of graduate credits required in all master's degree programs.
  • The master’s thesis (INTD 599) must count for between 4.5 and 12.0 units.

(a) Supervisory committee

  • Supervisory committee members from two academic units must be designated as academic co-supervisors.
  • In addition to the co-supervisors, the supervisory committee must also include at least one other member from a relevant field of study.
  • Any changes to a degree program or supervisory committee must be made in writing and approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

(b) Thesis (INTD 599)

  • The thesis is an original piece of work that demonstrates a student’s understanding of, and capacity to, employ research methods appropriate to their field of study.
  • It should normally include a general overview of relevant literature in the field of study, be well organized and academically written.
  • It may be based on a body of original data produced by the student or an original research exercise conducted using scholarly literature or data produced and made available by others.
  • Guidelines for master’s thesis preparation and completion and submission can be found here (document requirements) and here (submission guidelines).

(c) Time allowed

An INTD master's degree is normally completed in two years and must be completed in five years.

Regular existing interdisciplinary programs

You may be interested in undertaking interdisciplinary studies as part of a regular existing program that is interdisciplinary in nature. These programs include:

  • Dispute resolution
  • Indigenous governance
  • Studies in policy and practice
  • Programs in cultural, social, and political thought (specifically English, history, political science or sociology)
  • Social dimensions of health

Interdisciplinary study with a research centre

You might want to enroll in a program within a regular academic unit and engage in interdisciplinary research supervised by a faculty member associated with a research centre.

These UVic research centres include:

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