Interdisciplinary Doctorate

A customized doctoral program for students pursuing studies across multiple departments and programs.

  • Program Description, Application Process, Program Requirements
  • Current Students and Alumni, IDOC Members
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact the Director and Office of Graduate Admissions

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Office of Graduate Admissions
Bendetson Hall
Medford, MA 02155
(617) 627-3395

Program Description

The Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program is designed for those interested in pursuing doctoral level studies in areas that cannot be accommodated in one of the departmental doctoral programs within Arts and Sciences or Engineering. Admission to the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program is for applicants with demonstrated proficiency in independent study at the graduate level and whose research area is interdisciplinary and carefully matched to Tufts human, academic and physical resources.

A committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Overseers Committee (IDOC) serves as the admissions committee and will monitor the progress of all students matriculated into the program.

Admission to the program is highly selective. The applicant must demonstrate the ability to do independent research/scholarship. Normally this is demonstrated by having completed a master's degree with a thesis requirement at an accredited graduate school, or in some cases by published research. Creative works such as art, musical composition, performance, and performance direction are not acceptable as the sole qualifications for admission into a scholarly doctoral program of study.

For more information, contact the GSAS Admissions Office at or the Program Director at

Application Process

Application Deadlines

Fall: January 15

Spring: September 15

Application to the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program is a two-step process.

Step One

A Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences application form should be submitted with all documents together with the application fee, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. The application deadline for fall admission is January 15, and for spring admission is September 15.

Description of dissertation work and list of potential advisory committee members, limited to one single spaced page

In addition, all Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program applicants must submit a description of research interests including the proposed area of dissertation work. This should include an explanation of how the project is interdisciplinary beyond what would be possible in a single department, including a description of the multiple disciplines and research/scholarly methods involved. The applicant should list faculty members who might be the principal advisor and members of the Ph.D. advisory committee. The primary advisor must be a full time tenured or tenure track faculty member of Arts & Sciences or Engineering, situated in Medford and actively engaged in the field of the proposed research. At least two other faculty members from Arts & Sciences, Engineering, or other schools at Tufts must be listed as potential members of the advisory committee. Applicants are encouraged to initiate informal conversations with potential principal advisors or members of the advisory committee. The description of research interests together with a list of possible advisors should be limited to one page in length.

After submission of the Step One application, the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Overseers Committee (IDOC) will review the application to determine how it meets the program requirements and notify the applicant if it is appropriate to proceed to Step Two. Recommendation to proceed to Step Two is NOT acceptance into the program.

Step Two

When recommended for the second step, the applicant should contact faculty members who may be appropriate to serve as the principal advisor or members of the advisory committee and then write a more extensive description of the project.

Description of the project, limited to five single spaced pages

The description of the proposed project must show how the project will make an original contribution to the field of study. It should also indicate how the research involves methods, techniques or theoretical approaches that are characteristic of two or more disciplines. To qualify for the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Program, a study design must realize added value by the very fact of combining two or more disciplinary approaches. The candidate must provide a strong case that the project would not be appropriate for a single doctoral-granting department at Tufts, and that the project would not fit easily within a traditional doctoral program at another institution. It is not sufficient that the subject matter of investigation is discussed in the literature of more than one discipline.

Confirmation of an advisory committee

The applicant must assemble an advisory committee consisting normally of at least three faculty members from Arts & Sciences, Engineering, or other schools at Tufts. When an applicant approaches faculty members to serve on his or her advisory committee, the applicant should tell each faculty member that they can review the first step application to the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Program. Additional members of the advisory committee may be selected from any school at Tufts or, when appropriate, from other universities. As a component of the admissions process, IDOC must approve the suitability of the advisory committee. One person must agree to serve as the principal advisor and Chair of the advisory committee, providing major direction for the student's progress through coursework, examinations and the dissertation. That person must be a full time tenured or tenure track faculty member of Arts & Sciences, or Engineering, situated in Medford and actively engaged in the field of the proposed research. All members of the advisory committee must submit, as part of the Step Two application, a statement declaring their commitment to the project, and elaborating their specific role and responsibilities. The advisory committee should review and approve the candidate's Interdisciplinary Doctorate proposal prior to its submission to IDOC.

IDOC must certify that the criteria for admission entailed by the proposal meet Tufts doctoral standards and the requirements of the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Program. If the principal advisor is a member of a doctoral granting department, the graduate admissions committee of that department may be consulted in order to clarify whether the proposed program of study is suitable for the doctoral program of that department. In the case where the principal advisor is not a member of a doctoral-granting department, it is expected that at least one member of the advisory committee will have mentored doctoral students.

Plan of study and qualifying examination

The applicant must compile a list of graduate level courses to be taken for the degree and lay out the schedule in which they will be taken. The applicant, in consultation with the principal advisor, must also specify qualifying examination procedures, which should usually follow the principal advisor's department guidelines.

The requirements for completion of the program should conform to the general requirements of the doctoral degree as stated in the A&S and Engineering Bulletin.

Evaluation of the Step Two application

After the Step Two application is submitted, the IDOC, in its capacity as admissions committee, will call a meeting in which the candidate, the principal advisor, and at least one other member of the advisory committee must be in attendance. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the proposed project, the plan of study, the qualifying examination, the composition of the advisory committee, and to verify that the primary advisor is fully supportive of the proposed plans and willing to serve as primary advisor. A majority vote of IDOC in favor of the proposal will constitute a recommendation for admissions to the Dean of GSAS and to the Engineering Dean of Graduate Education.

The official letter of admission into the program will specify the amount of tuition scholarship aid. Admission into the program does not include a teaching or research assistantship, but applicants may explore the possibility of a teaching or research assistant position with their primary Ph.D. advisor.

Application Requirements

> Application Fee
Personal Statement (including 1-page description of dissertation work and list of potential advisors)
> Official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test, if applicable
GRE scores are NOT required for application to this program 
Three Letters of Recommendation

> 5-page description of the PhD project
> A list of primary advisory and advisory committee members
> Planned coursework
> Qualifying examination procedures and timing
> Letters of commitment from the Principal Advisor and all PhD Advisory Committee members

Program Requirements

Students in the program must meet with their advisory committee at least twice a year, and a progress report must be filed with IDOC twice a year. Progress reports are due by the end of the first week of classes in the fall semester (September) and at around midterm in the spring semester (March). It is the responsibility of the candidate and the principal advisor to file the progress report, and failure to do so may result in a recommendation by IDOC for dismissal from the program.

Any change in the advisory committee makeup or program of study must receive prior approval by IDOC. Any changes to the qualifying procedures or examinations presented at the time of the Step Two application must be approved by the Ph.D. advisory committee and by IDOC before the examination can take place. Both bodies may suggest further changes.

The Dissertation Defense Committee, which must be approved by IDOC, should consist of at least three members of the student's advisory committee, including the principal advisor. As with other doctoral dissertation defenses, this committee must also include an additional person from outside of Tufts, who is familiar with the field, is not a member of the dissertation working committee, and is not directly associated with the student's research.

Current Students

Assaf BenchetritAssaf Benchetrit

Dissertation title: DNA of Dance Movement – The Mysterious Roots of the Qualities of Movement and the Fundamental Role They Take in Dance Forms.

The subject of my research is the meeting point between the worlds of dance and technology. I am quantitatively evaluating the quality of dance notations (at the energy level) in capturing the aesthetics aspect of dance through the use of data-science methods.

Advisors: Remco Chang, Department of Computer Science
Robert Jacob, Department of Computer Science
Renata Celichowski, Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Maxine Steinman, Theatre and Dance, Montclair State University

Hladikova, SarahSarah Hladikova

Dissertation title: Global Governance of Artificial Intelligence

My research is interdisciplinary research at the intersection of computer science, political science, international relations, and philosophy. I am interested in the unprecedented level of self-governance in the development of transformative technology and focus on the new power dynamics emerging in big tech. My research interests include STS, algorithmic fairness, and AI governance.

Advisors: Peter Levine, Tisch College
Jivko Sinapov, Department of Computer Science
John Shattuck, The Fletcher School 
Robert Pfaltzgraff, The Fletcher School

John LehmanJohn Lehman

Dissertation title: TBD

My work as an Interdisciplinary PhD candidate at Tufts draws equally from scholarship of transnational literatures and fine art practice in order to interrogate Haruki Murakami’s novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Blending visual media and literary analysis allows me to challenge traditional understandings of reading and art, while exposing how cross-pollination between disciplines can yield otherwise inaccessible insight. These efforts will yield a dissertation that proves scholarship can be as creative a pursuit as art-making is scholarly.

Advisors: Charles Inouye, Department of International Literary and Cultural Studies 
Hosea Hirata, Department of International Literary and Cultural Studies 
Ethan Murrow, School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts
Nancy Bauer, Dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Department of Philosophy
Sonia Hofkosh, Department of English

Karen MulderKaren Mulder
Dissertation Title: (Un)Disciplined: A Crisis of Purpose in American Research Universities

Calls for interdisciplinary -- and multi/trans/cross or any of a variety of modifiers to 'disciplinary' -- formations in American research universities have occurred cyclically since the formalization of these institutions at the turn of the last century. Appeals for the necessity of such models make implicitly idealist and often moral claims about the purpose of academic research and about higher education institutions more broadly as universities face pressure to continually reestablish their legitimacy and redefine their role in American society. At the same time, formations that truly and radically integrate or operate outside of academic disciplines have been difficult to establish or sustain. This dissertation explores the historic, epistemic, and sociocultural foundations of calls to interdisciplinary formations in the context of academic disciplines themselves and, in doing so,  offers an important lens into how power both is wielded within our collective knowledge base and effectively places epistemic limits on the ability to produce new knowledge. Historical and ethnographic examinations of calls for interdisciplinarity in the face of their epistemic limitations may further illuminate historical moments in which universities, as represented by their leadership, feel their sense of purpose and legitimacy are in crisis. The use of multiple lenses to investigate these moments of disciplinary instability and restructuring may help reveal what institutional conditions (if any) might allow varied types of knowledge formations to flourish more regularly, if the permanence of such formations matters, and the extent to which radical formations would and should alter the purpose of higher education institutions.

Advisors: Freeden Blume Oeur, Department of Sociology
Nancy Bauer, Dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Department of Philosophy
Cristiano Casalini, Boston College, Educational History
Kevin Dunn, Vice Provost, Department of English
Nick Seaver, Department of Anthropology

Roberto Pinheiro Machado

Roberto Pinheiro Machado

Dissertation title: In Search for the Liminal: Modernity and the Avant-garde Poetics of Pound, Breton, Huidobro, Gullar and Nishiwaki

This interdisciplinary research project engages the approaches of Literary Studies and Cultural Anthropology to investigate the phenomenon of the avant-garde from an East-West perspective. My research points to how, as a product of Western Modernity, the avant-garde was appropriated in East Asia when Japanese writers, consciously or not, obeyed the top-down command at Westernization decreed by the Japanese state during the Meiji Restauration. The Japanese appropriation of the avant-garde in the literary realm went hand in hand with that of Western science and technology, which started several centuries earlier in the form of rangaku, and progressed through a dynamic of obeisance to nationalist political aims founded on an overarching religious intent configured in the pre-modern imperial cult embedded in Shinto. To the original Western avant-garde poetics, with its challenge to authority and reliance on individual freedom, I oppose Japanese Shinto poetics, which is based on a drive to procure, obtain, and appropriate foreign cultures, among them the avant-garde itself. “Poetics” here is understood as much more than a method to write poetry; it emerges as the foundational creative impulse that constructs reality culturally. The research concludes by calling into question the applicability of the term “modern” in the sense of a socio-cultural standing deeply connected with the values and principles of Western Modernity to Japan specifically, as well as to East Asia more broadly. While the Modern West articulated the dialectical dynamic of the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian civilization, in which religion is constantly challenged by the critical stance that emanates from the autonomous, rational individual, East Asia remained, underneath the surface, true to its Confucian doctrinal basis, preventing a true avant-garde intent of radical iconoclasm to emerge in the region. 

Advisors: Pablo Ruiz, Department of Romance Studies
Gérard Gasarian, Department of Romance Studies
John Lurz, Department of English

Elizabeth Powers

Elizabeth Powers

Dissertation title: Understanding Barriers to Ethical Design of Emerging Technologies

My research investigates the broad concept of how to achieve ethical technology, by identifying normative ethics associated with exemplary emerging technologies, understanding the barriers to adoption of ethical considerations in technology development by technology leaders, and identifying a methodology for motivating adoption of ethical design into emerging technology development.  The research includes literature review and qualitative research with respect to ethics and focuses on development of brain computer interface (or “BMI”) and gene drive technologies as representative emerging technologies.  My premise is that understanding how technology products in such divergent technology fields (i.e., software/hardware engineering and bioengineering) are developed will help identify normative ethics across technologies, leading to a broader understanding of barriers to adoption of ethical design in emerging technologies, and finally to methodologies for motivating the adoption of such ethical design approach.

Advisors: Sheldon Krimsky, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
George E. Smith, Department of Philosophy
Patrick Forber, Department of Philosophy

Sarah Radway

Sarah Radway

Dissertation title: Exploring Challenges Accompanying The Use of IoT Devices

Through this work, I hope to understand how we can best protect users from the new and relatively unexplored challenges of IoT device use in domestic settings. An interdisciplinary approach to this issue is necessary: the tradeoffs between privacy and functionality are growing to be increasingly complex, and require an understanding of the technical implementations in order to evaluate and establish functional regulatory frameworks. My work will help to lay the foundation for this effective regulation.

Advisors: Susan Landau, The Fletcher School and the School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science
Josephine Wolff, The Fletcher School
Daniel Votipka, Department of Computer Science
Jeffery Taliaferro, Department of Political Science

Karen MulderTahira Syed

Dissertation title: Reframing Scale Issues in Transboundary Water Governance: Scale-Descale-Rescale Analysis of Policy Design and Implementation

This research integrates theory and practice to create actionable knowledge for transboundary water governance. A new analytical approach, called the Scale-Descale-Rescale analysis is presented a means to operationalize scale-based analysis within a complex system of human-environment interactions. Applying the new analytical approach to two of the largest river basin systems – the Danube River and the Indus River – this research breaks new ground on how transboundary water policies could better integrate across biophysical and governance boundaries.

Interdisciplinarity: Starting from the perspective of actionable knowledge, this research identified and drew on the approaches to governing transboundary waters through looking at existing policies that could best address the research questions. The acknowledgement that environmental challenges stretch from local to global scales, yet current governance systems – both policies and institutions – remain fragmented in addressing such challenges along multiple scales. This fragmentation is also reflected in scientific research and disciplinary fields due to a lack of conceptual tools and empirical data that are necessary for incorporating scale issues.

The approach for this research therefore builds on the conceptual discourse and expands it to solve actual problems. This approach is consistent with practical interdisciplinary research that aims to address concrete, real world issues. Starting from a real-world problem is a cornerstone of research at the Water Diplomacy Program – the departmental home of this dissertation. Although all environmental governance problems are in fact real-world problems, creating practical frames for addressing such problems through situating them in specific contexts – in case of this research the transboundary water governance context – provides a meaningful way to unpack, understand, and undertake problem solving.

Advisors: Shafiqul Islam, School of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Fletcher School
William Moomaw, The Fletcher School
Enamul Chowdhury, Wright State University


Megan Gately, PhD '21
Year of Matriculation: 2017
Primary Advisor: Linda Tickle-Degnen, Department of Occupational Therapy
Dissertation Title: Telehealth care and dementia
Current Position: United States Department of Veterans Affairs - GRECC - Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center

Laia Mogas-Soldevilla, PhD '20
Year of Matriculation: 2016
Primary Advisor: Fiorenzo Omenetto, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Dissertation Title: "Reviving Matter: New Design Companions in the Science of Life"
Current Position: Asst. Prof., Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

Elijah Wald, PhD '15
Year of Matriculation: 2011
Primary Advisor: Susan Ernst and Debra Pacini, Department of Anthropology
Dissertation Title: "Reinventing Ranchera: Music, Language, and Identity in the Southwest"
Current Position: Folk blues guitarist and music historian

Stephanie Gottwald, PhD '14
Year of Matriculation: 2008
Primary Advisor: Maryanne Wolf, Department of Child Study and Human Development
Dissertation Title: "The Struggle to Express Themselves: An Examination of the Relationship of Syntax to Text Reading and Comprehension"
Current Position: Co-Founder and Director of Content, Curious Learning

Paul Lehrman, PhD '10
Year of Matriculation: 2006
Primary Advisor: John McDonald, Department of Music
Dissertation Title: Music, Technology & Art History "The History and Technology of Ballet Mecanique"
Current Position: Senior Lecturer, Department of Music, Tufts University

Guangtao Ge, PhD '09
Year of Matriculation: 2004
Primary Advisor: Lenore Cowen, Department of Computer Science
Dissertation Title: "Analysis of Genomic and Experimental Data for Identifying Positively Selected Genes, Early Cancer Diagnosis and Screening for Improved Industrial Protein Production"
Current Position: Data Scientist, Big Data Analytics, Constant Contact

Christine Rioux, PhD '09
Year of Matriculation: 2004
Primary Advisor: David Gute, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dissertation Title: "Immunology, Genetics, Environmental Health"
Current Position: Research Assistant Professor, Public Health & Community Medicine - Tufts Medical School (2009-June 2017)

Deborah Bobek, PhD '07
Year of Matriculation: 2004
Primary Advisor: Richard Lerner, Department of Child Study and Human Development
Dissertation Title: Maintaining Civil Society and Democracy: Examining the Role of Youth Development Organizations in Promoting Civic Identity Development

Alice Cavallo, PhD '08
Year of Matriculation: 2003
Primary Advisor: Alva Couch, Department of Computer Science
Dissertation Title: Theater, Technology & Education  "Virtual Forum Theater: Creating and Shring Drama to Resolve Conflicts"
Current Position: Data Analyst at Wentworth Institute of Technology

David Proctor, PhD '10
Year of Matriculation: 2002
Primary Advisor: Steven Marrone, Department of History
Dissertation Title: Medieval History, Art History & Languages  "Imperial Christ:  The Empire, The Papacy and the Battle of Christendom"
Current Position: Senior Lecturer, Department of History, Tufts University

Kayo Tajima, PhD '05
Year of Matriculation: 2002
Primary Advisor: Gary Leupp, Department of History
Dissertation Title: "The Marketing of Urgan Waste in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area: 1600-1935"
Current Position: Teaching in Japan

Tracy Noble, PhD '07
Year of Matriculation: 2000
Primary Advisor: Analucia Schliemann, Department of Education
Dissertation Title: "Body Motion and Physics:  How Elementary School Students Use Gesture and Action to make Sense of the Physical World"
Current Position:  Project Leader, TERC (August 1993-present)

Cathy Stanton, PhD '04
Year of Matriculation: 1999
Primary Advisor: David Guss, Department of Anthropology
Dissertation Title: "The Lowell Experiment:  Public History in a Postindustrial City"
Current Position:  Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Tufts University

Kevin Paul Gallagher, PhD '03
Year of Matriculation: 1999
Primary Advisor: Rachel Bratt, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Dissertation Title: "Econmic Integration, Environment & Development: Assessing the Mexican Experience"
Current Position: Associate Prof. of International Relations, Boston University

Iris Stammberger, PhD '05
Year of Matriculation: 1998
Primary Advisor: David Feldman, Department of Child Study and Human Development
Dissertation Title: "The Dynamics of Conceptual Change:  Expert and Novice Navigation in a Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE)"
Current Position: Founder and Senior Consultatn, TALBOK Management Consultants; CEO - Lionza Education - Business Educational Services Winchester, MA; Mind-Body Intervention Specialist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Diana Anius, PhD '04
Year of Matriculation: 1998
Primary Advisor: Robert Jacob, Department of Computer Science
Dissertation Title: "Technology and Policy of a Regional Wireless Grid"
Current Position: Managing Director, Dorani Consulting (Nov 2004-present); Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University (Sept 2015-present)

Steve Moysey, PhD '01
Year of Matriculation: 1997
Primary Advisor: Arthur Winston, Gordon Institute
Dissertation Title: "A Cross Functional Examination of Technological Discontinuities and the Associated Risk of Firm Disruptions"
Current Position: VP Engineering and R&D - Cellular Life Sciences

Diane Johnson-McCarthy, PhD '02
Year of Matriculation: 1997
Primary Advisor: Rob Hollister, Tisch College
Dissertation Title: "The Cosmology of Partnership & Cross Sector  Organizational Collaboration:  An Examination of Private, Public and Third Sector Organizations Engaging Community Problem Solving"
Current Position: President/Owns Pvt. Consulting Business for non-profits "MMAPEU"

Sally Duncan, PhD '01
Year of Matriculation: 1996
Primary Advisor: Andrew McClellan, Department of the History of Art and Architecture
Dissertation Title: "Paul J. Sachs and the Institutionalization of Museum Culture between the World Wars"

Steven Cohen, PhD '98
Year of Matriculation: 1992
Primary Advisor: Richard Chechile, Department of Psychology
Dissertation Title: "A Detailed, Multi-Site Method for Assessing the Effectiveness of Instructional Software"
Current Position: Visiting Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Stella Papasavva, PhD '97
Year of Matriculation: 1993
Primary Advisor: Jonathan Kenny, Department of Chemistry
Dissertation Title: "Reducing the Risk of Global Warming from CFC Alternatives:  A Scientific Basis for Policy Options"
Current Position: Environmental Consultant - Greater Detroit - GREN-MAC-LCCP , Chair & Senior advisor on Life Cycle Analysis & Sustainable Development

Sergei Grigoriev, PhD '96
Year of Matriculation: 1993
Dissertation Title: "The International Department of Central Committee of the Party of the Soviet Union and Gorbachev's Attempts to Reform the Party Apparat:  A Case Study of Disintegration of Authority"
Current Position: Director of the Russian-U.S. Business Council

Constance Putnam, PhD '99
Year of Matriculation: 1991
Primary Advisor: Howard Solomon, Department of History
Dissertation Title: "True Compassion:  Hospice or Hemlock"
Current Position: Writer

Guru Ramanathan, PhD '98
Year of Matriculation: 1990
Primary Advisor: David Dapice, Department of Economics
Dissertation Title: "Technological Innovation in Elective Health Care:  A Case Study from an Emerging Market"
Current Position: President, Brillian Care; President, Guru Ramanathan LLC

Interdisciplinary Doctorate Program Overseers

Sergio Fantini

Sergio Fantini
Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering


Rachel Applebaum

Rachel Applebaum
Associate Professor, Department of History


Sheldon Krimsky

Sheldon Krimsky
Lenore Stern Professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Colin Orians

Colin Orians (on leave 2021-2022)
Professor, Department of Biology


Sarah Pinto

Sarah Pinto
Professor, Department of Anthropology


Jill VanTongeren

Jill VanTongeren
Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences


Karen Panetta

Dean Karen Panetta (ex officio)
Professor and Dean of Graduate Education, School of Engineering


Robert Cook

Dean Robert Cook (ex officio)
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Professor, Department of Psychology

  1. What are the main requirements for admission into this program?
    Applicants to this program have typically received a Master’s degree with a thesis requirement or have otherwise demonstrated their ability to do independent research/scholarship. Applicants are also expected to describe their Ph.D. project, articulate its interdisciplinary aspects, and identify faculty members at Tufts who may serve on their advisory committee.
  2. What are the criteria used to evaluate Step 1 applications?
    Step 1 applications are evaluated in terms of (1) academic quality and research potential of the applicant (based on academic record, previous research, recommendation letters, etc.), (2) quality of the proposed Ph.D. project, (3) interdisciplinarity of the proposed Ph.D. project, beyond what may be feasible in a departmental program, (4) presence of appropriate advisors at Tufts for the proposed project.
  3. What are the criteria used to evaluate Step 2 applications?
    Step 2 applications are evaluated in terms of (1) quality of the proposed Ph.D. project (described in more detail than in Step 1) and extent to which it is interdisciplinary, (2) demonstrated commitment of the Ph.D. advisory committee members to advise the proposed Ph.D. project, (3) appropriateness of the proposed coursework, (4) appropriateness of the qualifying examination structure and timing. Step 2 applications are discussed at a meeting with the applicant, the Ph.D. advisory committee, and the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Overseers Committee.
  4. What are the required and elective courses for this program?
    There are no specified course requirements or qualifying examination procedures for all students in this program. Instead, as part of the Step 2 application, applicants (in consultation with their advisory committee) describe and justify the proposed coursework and structure of the qualifying examination.
  5. Is this program administered by a particular department? Who are the faculty affiliated with this program?
    There are no departments or faculty members specifically associated with this program. All departments and faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and other schools at Tufts may participate in this program. It is expected that applicants to the program identify and reach out to prospective faculty advisors as part of their two-step application process.
  6. Who is eligible to serve as primary advisor?
    The primary advisor must be a full time tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the School of Arts & Sciences or in the School of Engineering, situated in Medford, and actively engaged in research/scholarly activities in the field of the proposed Ph.D. project.
  7. Should the proposed Ph.D. advisory committee be involved in the preparation of the application.
    For Step 1, the Ph.D. advisory committee members only need to be named to show that Tufts has appropriate faculty members to advise the project. Contacting them before the submission of the Step 1 application is optional. For Step 2, the Ph.D. advisory committee is expected to be involved in the preparation of the application, so that they can refine the scope of the project, advise on the planned coursework, define the structure of the qualifying examination, and be fully supportive of the entire plan of study and research project.
  8. Does admission into the program come with tuition scholarship and/or graduate assistantship?
    Admission into the program typically comes with tuition scholarship as indicated in the official admission letter. Teaching or research assistantships are not offered as part of admission into the program, but applicants may investigate the opportunity of graduate assistantships with their primary advisor.

Contact the Director

For questions about the scope and requirements of the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Program, contact the Program Director at

Contact the Office of Graduate Admissions

For general questions about graduate admission, and for questions regarding the application procedures for the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program, contact the GSAS Admissions Office at .