Application Process & Requirements

Admission to the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program is highly selective 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. 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.

Application Process and Deadlines

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 to the Personal Statement, all Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program applicants must submit a separate one-page 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 PhD 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 (IDoc) Committee 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.

Students admitted to the program receive a full tuition scholarship. 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 PhD advisor.

Application Requirements

Step 1

  • Application Fee
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal Statement
  • 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¬†
  • Transcripts
  • Three Letters of Recommendation

Step 2

  • 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