Introduction to Graduate Interdisciplinary Studies

4 credit hours (D510)

Students are required to take LBST D510 within their first year of entering the program. It is strongly recommended that students take the course in their first semester. The course provides a comprehensive introduction to graduate interdisciplinary studies, as well as preparing students to participate successfully in all facets of the MIS program. The course will examine methods of intellectual inquiry in the three fields represented in the MIS program: Arts & Letters, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. Academic scholarship, research methodologies, writing conventions, and research ethics will be covered.

MIS Seminars

9 credit hours (D501, D502, D503)

Students are required to take a minimum of nine (9) hours of graduate seminars. You must take at least one (1) seminar in each area: arts and letters, natural sciences and social sciences. Typically this would mean that you would take a three (3) hour seminar in each area. However, we sometimes offer mini seminars (1 credit in one area). In that case, students must take three or more hours in the other two areas to reach a minimum total of nine (9) credit hours or more. If you take more than nine hours of seminar, the hours above nine will count as electives.

All seminars are interdisciplinary. The numbers indicate the division of the instructor and hence the area of emphasis in the course. Instructors do not assume that all students taking their seminars have extensive backgrounds in their discipline. In an interdisciplinary program like MIS this clearly would not be realistic. Hence, readings are thought and discussion provoking but do not require prerequisites in the relevant fields.

The seminars have a discussion format. It is crucial that you do the readings prior to coming to class. In addition, term projects are required in the seminars. It is important that your project conforms to graduate level standards.


15 credit hours (D511, D512, D513)

  • Focus your MIS degree on an area of concentration
  • Allow you to interact with faculty in the relevant areas

Selection of electives requires long-term planning because electives are a very important component of the MIS degree program. They provide an opportunity for students to select an area of concentration and they enable students to begin the intensive study that will culminate in a graduate project. Through taking electives students have an opportunity to meet and work with faculty who they may eventually invite to direct or serve on their graduate project committee. For this reason, students should choose electives carefully and in keeping with their graduate project goals.

Your graduate project must span two schools. For this reason, your electives must also span two schools. Electives should be chosen from at least two of the major areas: arts and letters, natural sciences or social sciences. For example, you might select courses in philosophy and math or in sociology and communications. You may choose from among courses offered by the Schools of Arts and Letters, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences as well as from those offered by the Department of Economics.

Elective Options
  • Additional MIS Seminars
  • 300/400 courses
  • Readings (D594)

Students may elect to take additional seminars beyond the nine (9) hours required above. Any additional hours of seminar beyond nine (9) can count as electives.

You may also elect to take a 300 or 400 undergraduate level course as a MIS graduate course if you follow these steps:

  1. You must ask permission of the instructor to take the course for graduate credit at least one month prior to the beginning of the semester.
  2. Negotiate with the instructor on what additional work you will do to earn graduate credit for the course.
  3. Submit an Application for Graduate Credit, signed by both you and the instructor.
  4. When the application has been approved by the MIS Director, the MIS office will assign a section number to the graduate interdisciplinary studies course (D511, D512, D513). If you register using the undergraduate number, it will not count toward your degree.

Do not register for the undergraduate course to save a place in class. The graduate course is listed separately.

Students may take the D594 Readings course to focus on a topic or combination of topics that is not available via MIS seminars or 300/400 level courses. Students must submit an application to take D594 to the MIS Director. The application form details the methods to be used to meet the Graduate Competencies for Elective Courses and must be signed by both the instructor and the student.

Graduate Project Proposal Seminar

3 credit hours (D601)

The Graduate Project Proposal Seminar is designed to prepare students to submit a Graduate Project Proposal. During the course students will progress from a thesis idea to a full Graduate Project Proposal; a process which will involve extensive literature review and development of appropriate methodology. At course end, students will have developed the first two chapters of their thesis. In addition students will have identified their thesis committee.

Selecting Your Committee:

You must create a committee to oversee your thesis/graduate project. Ordinarily these faculty will be persons with whom you have taken courses. They should be persons with expertise in areas relevant to your project. One of the faculty should be designated as the director of your project. These faculty members must span two of the three schools.

Graduate Project Proposal

Your proposal should be a thorough description of your plans for your graduate project. First, you need to explain what you plan to do. In a traditional thesis project an explanation of what you plan to do must include a literature review of work done by others that is relevant to your topic. Then you must explain what new contribution you will make through your project. Following this, you need to explain why your contribution will be important. Next you will need to explain how you will do your project, i.e. what research methods or other tools will you use and the like. Finally, you will need a list of references. Your proposal should be in a format appropriate to the discipline of emphasis in your project.

The requirement can be satisfied by taking D601 as a course with fellow students, or through independent study. The D601 course will be taught by the MIS Director; under the independent study option students take the course with a member of the thesis committee, preferably the thesis committee chair.

Graduate Project/Thesis

3 or more credit hours (D602)

To register for D602 you must obtain authorization. It will be granted if the faculty members serving on your thesis committee have signed a form indicating that you have successfully defended your proposal and if that form and a copy of your proposal has been submitted to the Director of the MIS Program. A copy of this form is available for you to download from the MIS website and is available in the manual.

When you are ready to begin working on your project, refer to the guidelines for the graduate project that is provided in your orientation material. Please refer to this guide in the preparation of binding your thesis also.

Graduate project is not just another term paper!!! It is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to 1) work independently or educate yourself; 2) synthesize complex materials that span at least two fields; 3) go beyond learning by creating knowledge. While your faculty committee will provide feedback and encouragement to you on your work, they will also expect you to demonstrate the above noted qualities. Students should anticipate doing a number of drafts of their project. This should not be viewed as a source of frustration but rather as part of an apprenticeship system by which one becomes a creator of knowledge.

Thesis Options
  1. Traditional Thesis. Original research or analysis encompassing literature from 2 of the 3 schools (Arts & Letters, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences). The thesis must be written in scholarly format, with the appropriate citation format and extensive references. The literature review developed for the thesis proposal should serve as the initial component of the thesis. Typical thesis length: 50 or more pages
  2. Creative Project. Students who are focusing their MIS program on a creative field may complete a creative project for their MIS thesis. Creative work may include writing, art, performance, etc. The creative work must be accompanied by an explanatory essay encompassing material from 2 of the 3 schools. The essay must be written in scholarly format, with appropriate citation format and appropriate references. The literature review developed for the thesis proposal may serve as the basis of the explanatory essay. Typical length of explanatory essay: 20 to 35 pages
  3. Peer-Reviewed Publication. Students may focus their thesis project work toward a peer-reviewed publication in a professional forum. Examples include articles in professional journals, investigative journalism published in a major newspaper, or a book published by a reputable press. The publication must be accompanied by an explanatory essay encompassing material from 2 of the 3 schools. The essay must be written in scholarly format, with appropriate citation format and appropriate references. The literature review developed for the thesis proposal may serve as the basis of the explanatory essay. Typical length of explanatory essay: 20 to 35 pages
  4. Applied Project. Students may focus their research project on their current place of employment, internship, or practicum. The applied project should be designed to benefit both the student and the employer and can be focused narrowly on a specific issue or problem relevant to the employer. Complete literature review and effectively designed method will support the value of the project. Typical length: 50 or more pages
  5. Student-Designed Thesis Project. If the student is interested in a project that does not fit into any of the previous categories, the student can propose a thesis project. The thesis proposal must outline how the project meets each of the elements of the Thesis Project Checklist. Complete literature review and effectively designed method will help the student demonstrate that the project meets the interdisciplinary graduate level requirements of the MIS program. Typical length: 50 or more pages.

MIS students who do not finish their graduate thesis/project in one semester must continue to register for at least one credit hour of Graduate Thesis credits (D602). A grade is assigned each semester based on the student’s satisfactory progress toward completion of the thesis.

Oral Defense

The final step in completing the MIS degree is a defense of the graduate project. The student with his/her faculty committee should coordinate a date for the defense. The Director of the MIS Program must also be notified in advance as to the date of the defense. You will have an opportunity to comment on your project and your committee will have a chance to ask you questions about it. Often you will be asked to make some minor changes in your project after the defense and prior to printing and binding. Information about binding is available in this manual. Once the student has defended his/her project, the chair of the graduate project must send a letter to the Director of the MIS Program indicating whether the committee has approved the project. The chair must also prepare forms to change the grades, if an "R" is on record. The committee must sign the acceptance form for the bound thesis. The guidelines, in the back of the manual, explain the layout of the acceptance form.

Upon completion of the graduate project the student must submit three bound copies to the MIS office prior to certification and awarding of the degree. The MIS office will forward two bound copies to the Indiana University Graduate School. The graduate school in Bloomington must receive the bound copies before the degree can be certified and/or awarded. See guidelines for details regarding preparation.

Graduation deadlines usually occur in mid-March and mid-October. If it is important that you formally graduate in a particular semester, you need to plan ahead to meet these deadlines by scheduling your defense so that time is still available for binding before mid-March or mid-October.