Jul 05, 2020  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Interdisciplinary Studies, M.A.

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This program is no longer accepting new majors.


The Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) is an interdisciplinary approach to university studies. The program combines the development of critical thinking, writing, and research abilities with the study of specialized knowledge in two complementary disciplines. Students pursuing the MAIS degree choose program emphases and design unique curricula in consultation with the MAIS graduate program coordinator.

The MAIS degree is designed for persons who wish to continue their liberal education at the graduate level or add breadth to a more specialized undergraduate degree. The communication skills, critical thinking skills, and interdisciplinary methodology gained in the program are not only valuable in themselves but attractive to a wide range of employers as well. For more information, visit the program’s website.

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies program must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally or internationally accredited institution. Applicants must submit all of the necessary materials to be considered for admission (see below).

Regular Admission

Applicants will be considered for regular admission if they have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in a previous baccalaureate or graduate degree, or if they have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or better in their last 30 hours of coursework. The quality of the applicant’s submitted materials will be a major factor in the admissions decision.

Conditional Admission

Applicants will be considered for conditional admission if they have achieved a cumulative GPA between 2.7 and 3.0 in a previous baccalaureate or graduate degree, or if they have achieved a GPA between 2.7 and 3.0 in their last 60 hours of coursework. The quality of the applicants submitted materials will be a major factor in the admissions decision.

Conditionally admitted students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 in their first 9 hours of coursework in order to remain in the program. Conditionally admitted students may also be subject to other conditions for enrollment, such as (but not limited to) required courses during the first 9 hours of study, as specified by the admissions committee. Conditionally admitted students who achieve a 3.0 or better GPA and fulfill any specified conditions in the appropriate timeline will be moved to regular status.

Special Conditional Admission

Applicants with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.69 who demonstrate extraordinary potential for achievement may petition the M.A. admission committee via a letter to the committee for special consideration. The petition should include evidence regarding two or more of the following criteria:

  • Amount of time lapsed since the previous degree
  • Extraordinary circumstances related to the low overall GPA
  • Professional or other experience that would show potential for success in graduate school and/or in disciplines of study selected
  • Professional accomplishment that demonstrate the applicant’s abilities with respect to time management or focused, intensive study

Applicants whose petitions are approved by the admissions committee will be subject to the same requirements and restrictions as listed above for conditionally admitted students.

All applicants must submit to the Graduate School all of the below documents

  • Transcripts from all previous institutions
  • Two academic reference letters addressing the candidate’s potential for success in graduate study (academic references are preferred, but letters from professional/work context may be used if the candidate has not retained academic references).
  • Written statements of intent: The statement should be approximately 750-1200 words and it should describe the applicant’s academic (and, if relevant, professional) background and academic preparation, specific interests for two disciplines of study, and interdisciplinary goals with the MAIS program.
  • A writing sample: an academic paper, ideally between 5-10 pages in length. Applicants who do not have a representative academic paper may submit instead an essay of 1500-1800 words, responding to either question 1 or 2 below.
    1. If you could have produced any scholarly or artistic work in one of your chosen disciplines of study, what would it be? (i.e., a well-known work of art, novel, treatise, piece of scholarly criticism, etc.) Explain why.
    2. Which course in your academic career to date has been the most important for your intellectual or artistic/creative development? Explain why.

The writing sample must include a title page with the following information: applicant’s name, date of original paper, and explanation of which option was chosen (e.g., “paper from History 4327, 2014” or “Essay Option #2”)

In addition to the above, some applicants may be required to submit additional materials or to participate in further evaluation procedures based on the discipline(s) of study selected in MAIS. Applicants who are considering study in artistic disciplines are especially encouraged to inquire about specific requirements based on individual circumstances before completing the application. Contact the graduate coordinator for more information. These additional elements may include:

  • Portfolio of art work
  • Samples of creative writing
  • Audition before a faculty member (e.g., for music)

Transfer Work

No more than nine credit hours of appropriate graduate course work taken at another institution may be transferred into the program. The MAIS graduate coordinator will determine whether or not graduate courses taken at UALR prior to admission to the program will count toward the 33 hours required.

Program Requirements

The MAIS degree requires 33 credit hours of graduate course work, 55%, (18 hours) of which can be at the 5000 level. The requirements are as follows:

Core Courses (Six hours)

All students take both required IDST courses:

Program Options

The MAIS degree allows the student to design a curriculum that includes a variety of graduate level courses. The combination of a primary discipline with one or two adjunct areas allows for greater breadth and the ability to focus on a particular problem or a subject that does not fit within traditional academic disciplines. In addition to the 6 hours of the required IDST courses, all students choose either the 2-concentration track or the 3-concentration track upon admission to the program for 27 hours of disciplinary study.

2-Concentration Track (27 hours)

  • Courses in one ALS or SSC discipline: 15 hours
  • Courses in a second discipline: 12 hours

3-Concentration Track (27 hours)

  • Courses in one ALS or SSC discipline: 12 hours
  • Courses in a second discipline: 9 hours
  • Courses in a third discipline: 6 hours 

In both tracks, courses for the primary concentration in MAIS must come from a department of program within the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences (ALS) or College of Social Sciences and Communication (SSC), and will include foundation course(s) and practice in the department or program within the university. 

Please see the MAIS program website for details about which disciplines are available for MAIS students. Note that individual departments enforce prerequisite requirements for course work and may have other restrictions. Students are encouraged to check with the department(s) in which they are interested for details on graduate-level course offerings.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available. Refer to the Graduate School website for general information about Graduate Assistantships and the MAIS website for further details.

Graduation Requirements

The MAIS degree requires successful completion of an approved program of study (as outlined in “Program Requirements”), totaling 33 hours. Students must pass IDST 7391  with a grade of C or better and must have a 3.0 cumulative graduate GPA.

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