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Individualized Interdisciplinary Ph.D. (IPhD) program

Najla Mouchrek is Virginia Tech's first individualized PhD student, with an interdisciplinary project aimed at using human centered design concepts to empower teenagers in terms of sustainability. She is on an Interdisciplinary Teaching Apprenticeship in Dr. Timothy Baird's Seeking Sustainability class, shown here.

Doctoral student Najla Mouchrek is pursuing an Individualized Interdisciplinary Ph.D. at Virginia Tech

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 Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Amy Pruden, who managed the program from 2015-17. “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. Information about requirements can be found on the Individual Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Graduate Catalog pages

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. William Huckle, who directs the program.



Associate Dean William Huckle


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