Interdisciplinarity suggests establishing connections across, or the hybridization of techniques, tools, or theories from, different disciplines in order to advance understanding beyond the scope of a single discipline. It can also suggest creating “undisciplined” spaces between disciplines, or working to transcend disciplinary boundaries altogether. Interdisciplinary approaches take on issues, problems, or creative projects that cannot be adequately addressed within a single discipline, or even multi disciplines (Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity).

To be considered "interdisciplinary" individual programs will integrate course work and research that crosses two or more disciplines into a concise program that is not available within the traditional academic setting. InterD students create their individualized program of studies with their supervisor and Student Advisory Committee. 

Prospective Student? 

Program Requirements

  • INTD 994 for Masters Students and INTD 996 for PhD Students
    *students must be registered in one of these every fall, winter & spring term until the student has successfully defended their thesis.

  • GSR 960 - Mandatory Grad Studies Ethics
    *all grad students must register and complete this online course

  • If applicable:
    • GSR 961 - Ethics online course if research involves human subjects 
    • GSR 962 - Ethics online course if research involves animal subjects 

  • INTD 990
    *students must be registered in this seminar every fall & winter term until defense. 
    • Masters students must attend a minimum of 6 seminars and make a presentation at 1 seminar. 
    • PhD students must attend a minimum of 9 seminars and make 2 presentations. 

  • Examination
    • Qualifying exam - If required (see below)
    • Comprehensive exam (see below)

  • All students must write a thesis and complete their thesis defence successfully
    Masters students have 5 years to complete, and PhD students have 6 years to complete,


If required, a qualifying exam is typically to be taken in the first year and is a useful preliminary and diagnostic tool used to identify areas or subject matter requiring for further study.

Also, a student may be considered for promotion to fully-qualified status in a Ph.D. program if the qualifying examination has been completed successfully. In this situation, the exam is written after one year of study at the master’s level. 

The successful completion of the comprehensive examination initiates the phase of the program particularly concerned with the research toward the dissertation. A student who has successfully passed a comprehensive exam is considered a doctoral candidate.

How is the comprehensive examination initiated? 
In the second year, the Student Advisory Committee meets with the student to draft the examination and plan how and when it will take place. The meeting agenda will identify the matters to be discussed, including the constituent fields to be tested. The outcome of this meeting is recorded and reported to the CGPS on a GSR210 form.

When is the examination to be taken? 
After the student has completed the course requirements, which is normally at or near the end of their second year. It may not be scheduled later than the end of the third year. The dissertation proposal normally follows after the successful completion of the comprehensive examination.

Who are the examiners? 
A subcommittee of the Student Advisory Committee, selected by the Student Advisory Committee. It has a minimum of five faculty and may include the supervisor(s) and the chair. The Examining Committee is chaired by a representative of the Interdisciplinary Committee of CGPS. This chair may ask questions but votes only in the case of a tie.

How is the examination to be conducted? 
The Student Advisory Committee determines the form of examination: written and/or oral. The normal form is a written examination followed by an oral defense. The oral is closed: only the members of the Examining Committee and the student are present. Typically the oral occurs within two weeks of the written exam.

What is the examination process? The general areas of the Comprehensive Exam are determined by the Student Advisory Committee, in consultation with the student, a minimum of three months before the scheduled exam date. Reading lists are prepared by the committee in collaboration with the student, and approved by the Committee. The exam tests student knowledge in topics and scholarly fields related to the student’s interdisciplinary research. It is designed to cover relevant theory, methodology, and substantive topics/subfields.

Student Advisory Committee can choose the most the most appropriate format for the exam from the following:

  1. A take-home examination consisting of three broad essays in variable lengths of time (but not to exceed three months) followed by an oral exam within two weeks. Example: Write a paper (20-25 pages in length) for each exam question (e.g. critical literature review, essay addressing debates in a reading area, analysis and interpretation of available data).
  2. A take-home examination that consists of one overarching, integrating question along with sub-topics. This exam paper should be of sufficient length to cover the assigned question in considerable detail and the exam can be scheduled for a time period up to two months. It is followed by an oral exam within two weeks of submission.
  3. A multiple-part take-home or an on-site exam with questions submitted by Examining Committee members in areas previously discussed. Each sub-set of questions will be answered in a number of days (e.g. 3-4 days). The exams should be separated in time by three to four days. The oral component will take place within two weeks after the written exam and will cover any of the questions asked in the written, as well as any other material of interest from the readings.

How is the examination evaluated? 
The student is determined to either pass or fail the exam by the Examining Committee. Where the Examining Committee's decision is not unanimous, the majority view shall prevail.

Can a student rewrite? In the event of failure, a student may retake the exam with the permission of the Dean of the CGPS. A second failure automatically disqualifies the student from further work for that particular PhD degree.

INTD 990 Seminar Series

To be announced.

Please contact the Graduate Program Assistant if you are interested in presenting at a seminar.

Students must register in the INTD 990 seminar course every fall and winter term until the student has defended their thesis. There are no tuition fees for this course, no credit unit weight, and it does not reduce course requirements in the required program of study. The INTD 990 seminar course does not involve examinations.

Seminars are an important element in the research and scholarly community of the university. They provide students with:

  • access to the work and ideas of faculty, graduate students and visiting scholars,
  • chance to debate and discuss issues with faculty and other students,
  • opportunity to present their own research and receive feedback.

The INTD 990 seminar course has two components; both are mandatory:

  1. Present a seminar - Students are expected to make a presentation on some aspect of their research at one of the sessions. Masters students are required to make at least one presentation in this seminar series during their program of study. PhD students are required to make at least two presentations in this seminar series during their program of study (see below).

  2. Attend seminars - Students are expected to attend regularly and participate in INTD 990 (held monthly) where faculty and students present their work. Masters students must attend a minimum of 6 seminars during their program; PhD students must attend a minimum of 9 seminars during their program (see below).

Students must prepare an abstract (300 words) of the material that they will present at the seminar and submit it at least one week in advance to

Presentation content should be related to the student’s area of study and can include an overview of the pertinent literature, a summary of the research proposal or a synopsis of their research thesis and its findings. Presentations will include:

  • a 10 to 15 minute general overview of their research field of study
  • a 10 to 15 minute overview of the research methodology and theoretical underpinnings
  • a 10 minutes discussion of the interdisciplinary nature of the research topic (A suggestion would be to use a concept map tos how the interdisciplinarity of the research and methodology with key scholars and literature in your area).

Unless otherwise specified, presentations will be open to the public. Constructive feedback will be solicited by the INTD 990 Seminar Coordinator and subsequently shared with the student presenter.

Students are required to provide evidence of their attendance at the campus seminars to verify that this mandatory program requirement has been met prior to making formal application for graduation. Attendance will be taken at each seminar to verify participation. You will also be given a chance to provide feedback to your classmates.

Funding and Scholarships

Purpose: A limited number of travel awards are available to students in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program traveling to present at or compete in an academic conference or competition.

Elibility: The award is available to students once every twelve months. Preference will be given to students who have not previously received an award; PhD students over MA students; and those closer to completion of their program.

Value: The value of the awards depends on the nature of the travel.

  • For international travel the maximum value is $550.00
  • For domestic travel the maximum value is $350.00

The following documents are required to apply for the award:

  • A signed letter of support from your supervisor
  • An abstract acceptance confirmation
  • A detailed budget
  • A complete application form

Applicants are highly encouraged to also apply for the University's Student Travel Award.

Value: Varies

Elibility: A student eligible for scholarship funding during his/her first year of the program must have a minimum admission average of 80%.  A student eligible for scholarship funding after his/her first year in the program must have achieved a minimum academic average of 80% in the course work that was stipuated in the student's program of studies, but must include grades from at least 6 cu.  Master's students are eligible to receive funding within 24 months following first registration.  PhD students are eligible to receive funding within 36 months following first registration.

Apply: Students not already in the Interdisciplinary program must have applied and had their application accepted by the Interdisciplinary Committee before March 31 to be eligible to apply for a scholarship.

Students should apply on the Scholarship Application Form no later than by March 31. Applications are considered by the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee at their meeting in April. Failure to submit your application by the deadline will result in missing the review and selection process. Please contact the InterD office for more information at  

Student Advisory Committee (SAC)

Every student has a student advisory committee (SAC). Students report to their committee on the progress towards the completion of their graduate program requirements including research progress.

The SAC provides guidance and direction to the student throughout their graduate program. The SAC will:

  • ensure the student's research program and thesis are truly interdisciplinary; that they integrate at least two different disciplinary perspectives.
  • ensure the research and thesis are academically rigorous and that the student is well prepared for the career path they have chosen.
  • review the progress in coursework and research and ensuring the research is well formulated and carried out in a thorough manner;
  • approve changes to the student's program and to the direction of the thesis research.
  • make a recommendation for the thesis defence and for the appointment of external examiners to the Interdisciplinary Committee Chair who, in turn, makes a recommendation to CGPS.

Before the thesis defence can be scheduled, a majority of the members of the SAC (excluding the SAC Chair) must indicate that the thesis is ready for examination. The SAC forms the basis for the examining committee.

The SAC committee will meet at least once each year, more often in the lead up to the defence. The committee reviews the student’s progress and reports annually to the Chair of the Interdisciplinary Committee. Members will provide:

  • constructive criticism of the student's ideas and work as the program develops;
  • guidance on the interdisciplinary nature of the research, ensuring the work is integrated into one thesis;
  • feedback on the student's annual progress report and research work, including performance in coursework and research.

The SAC must have at least four members (five for a PhD Committee). The student, in consultation with the research supervisor, will determine the membership of the SAC as part of the application process. One of the members serves as the Committee Chair and one of the members is the student's supervisor and/or co-supervisor (co-supervisors count as one person).

Committee members must represent at least two (2) or more departments or colleges. SACs should generally not be comprised so that all but one of the members comes from a single department.

The SAC Chair should have experience with graduate programs and not be involved in the specific research to be done by the student.


Interdisciplinary Studies
College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
University of Saskatchewan
Room C180 Administration Building
105 Administration Place
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A2

Telephone: 306-966-2171
Facsimile: 306-966-5756

Graduate Chair
Dr. Paul Hackett

Graduate Administrator
James Dobson
Telephone: 306-966-2171

Paul HackettChair
Geography and Planning

Dr. Gale Parchoma
Curriculum Studies

Dr. Les Dallin
Canadian Light Source

Dr. Graham Scoles
Plant Sciences

Dr. Artur Sowa

Dr. Hector Caruncho
Pharmacy and Nutrition

Dr. Martha Smith-Norris
Acting Associate Dean, College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Carolyn Gaspar
GSA Representative