Online PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies: Program Information

Learn about online PhD programs with interdisciplinary courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in interdisciplinary studies are rarely offered in fully online formats, but may be available in hybrid formats that allow some requirements to be completed through a distance learning format. Students may be able to find fully online doctorate programs in broader areas of interest, such as human behavior or public administration. Interdisciplinary studies programs in general prepare graduates for a wide variety of careers, not all of which require a Ph.D. Other majors with interdisciplinary courses may include public policy, social change, ethics, humanities and creative leadership. Interdisciplinary programs may require face-to face meetings or conferencing, as well as short annual residencies.

Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary studies is a humanistic exploration of diverse cultural and intellectual perspectives. Online Ph.D. programs for interdisciplinary studies are rare, but hybrid programs with some face-to-face conferencing are available as online distance learning options. Areas of concentration include public policy, social change, ethics, humanities and creative leadership.

Information and Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor's or a master's degree. The Ph.D. program can be completed in as few as three years. Students must attend a few short residencies each year. Professors evaluate students based on written and oral comprehensive exams. A dissertation is required.

Schools may require a recent Windows operating system. Students and faculty communicate on Listservs, online bulletin boards, through teleconferencing and e-mail.

List of Common Interdisciplinary Studies Courses

The practical courses for this track focus on research methods and writing. Many other recommended classes are within the social sciences discipline. The following subjects are typical in pursuit of this doctorate:

Social Justice

This class addresses moral systems and social exchanges through historical and political circumstances. Students evaluate organizational structure and the distribution of resources to individuals and groups.


In this course, students engage the unknown, contrasting the familiar and unfamiliar. The goal of this course is to encourage creative expression, thinking and exploration in academic scholarship. Instructors guide students through experimentation and development of strategies for the creative process.

Study of Differences

Ethical, political, sociological, historical, philosophical and psychological factors influence and create differences between individuals and communities. This course discusses the development of identities and social groups. The engagement of differences is discussed in terms of conflict and negotiation, cooperation, dissent, assimilation and tolerance.

Career Information

By nature, an interdisciplinary studies doctorate is a versatile degree. Since online degree programs have a focus on social sciences, appropriate careers for graduates may include sociology, anthropology, history, politics, global business and education. Below is a table of some possible careers available with this degree.

Occupation Projected Job Growth, 2014-2024 Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Anthropologists and archaeologists 4% (slower than average for all occupations) $61,220
Historians 2% (slower than average) $55,800
Political scientists -2% (no growth) $99,730
High school teachers 6% (fast as average) $57,200

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctorate programs in interdisciplinary studies may be found in hybrid formats for students wishing to study a wide array of areas. Graduates of these programs are prepared to work a variety of jobs, depending on their areas of interest and specialty.

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