Recent trends show that both higher education institutions and government agencies seek employees with interdisciplinary backgrounds, demonstrating strengths in more than one field, and the agility to work with colleagues across fields.

The Virginia Tech Graduate School offers an interdisciplinary Ph.D. for students whose goals cannot be met by a single discipline from a degree granting academic unit at the university. The program launched in 2015, aimed at enabling students to accomplish their specialized educational and professional goals.

“Real world problems don’t fit nicely into boxes, specific fields, departments or programs,” said Graduate School Associate Dean and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Amy Pruden, who oversees the program. “We need to have the opportunity for students so inclined to tackle these problems.”

Students design their proposed research project and must show how their work will not fit into any one field. The student’s advisory committee also must include members from at least two disciplinary fields.

Those seeking an interdisciplinary Ph.D. must submit their proposals to the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies for approval. Those proposals must include their proposed research focus, goals, plan of study, coursework, a planned schedule for exams and research, and the applicant’s advisory committee members.

For more information, contact Dr. Pruden.



Associate Dean Amy Pruden


Find out more about the IPhD program in this story about the first IPhD student at Virginia Tech.