UMKC Catalog


Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program

Mission, Philosophy and History

The world of the future will require scholars with a global approach to problem solving. It will no longer be enough to know one area, one discipline, one field. Inquiry and discovery are crossing disciplines. For example, the insights of the science of chaos are the products of mathematics, computer science, meteorology, astronomy and biology. Study of aging draws on sociology, psychology, pharmacy, the life sciences and education. For this reason, in 1990, UMKC developed and introduced an interdisciplinary doctoral degree program that spans traditional boundaries among disciplines.

The goal for Interdisciplinary Ph.D. studies at UMKC is to help students develop knowledge and skills for independent research on the fundamental questions of the present and the future. The program is designed to provide self-directed students with academic training at the highest level, while allowing their participation as colleagues in research of fundamental importance. UMKC is dedicated, within the framework of its interdisciplinary program leading to the Ph.D., to provide education of the highest quality.

Scholars in the program fully participate in their own learning, guided by our philosophy that facts must be tempered by values and that true excellence in scholarship demands a far-reaching context of knowledge. The program has grown rapidly. In the fall 2006 term, more than 360 students were enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. Nearly 350 students have graduated during the program's existence.

The following five core values underscore UMKC's Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program:
Education First: Learning is enhanced by a search for knowledge across discipline boundaries.
Therefore, the program:

  • Is student-centered.
  • Enables students to acquire the skills of interdisciplinary scholarship and research.
  • Broadens students’ exposure to multiple academic fields.
Discovery and Innovation: Interdisciplinary research draws on discipline-based knowledge, generating integrated solutions to problems that cross discipline boundaries.
Therefore, the program:
  • Is problem-oriented.
  • Integrates the attributes of a broad-based interdisciplinary approach with the grounding of a traditional academic focus.
  • Provides a solid grounding in theories, concepts and methodologies of two or more disciplines.
Integrity and Accountability: Self-reflection and individual responsibility.
Therefore, the program:
  • Incorporates a model of continuous quality improvement.
Diversity, Inclusiveness and Respect: Learning thrives in an environment open to a diversity of ideas, cultural backgrounds, discipline perspectives and approaches to problems.
Therefore, the program:
  • Instills an appreciation of different disciplines.
  • Integrates the disciplinary perspectives to give students the methodological and theoretical tools to thrive in a wide range of scholarly and professional environments.
Energized, Collaborative Communities: Society derives great benefit from collaborative efforts that transcend discipline boundaries to solve problems. Therefore, the program:
  • Prepares individuals to be multi-functional; to combine disparate skills to solve problems.
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