Interdisciplinary Ph.D.

man at table

Unlike a traditional Ph.D. program, where all of a student’s coursework is completed in one field, coursework in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program is divided between a coordinating discipline and a co-discipline. No more than 60 percent of a student’s coursework is completed in the coordinating discipline, and the remainder is completed in the co-discipline or other areas of study.

After completing coursework, students will take comprehensive examinations in both disciplines, although exams for the coordinating discipline will be more extensive.

A student’s dissertation committee is made up of members from each discipline, no more than three from one discipline, usually three from the coordinating discipline and two from the co-discipline. The dissertation itself will also be interdisciplinary in nature, using methodologies and developing ideas that are significant in each area of study.

We are a group of engaged faculty working in a number of areas of study, and you'll find a list of our recommended focus areas below. While this isn't an exhaustive list, it does represent our department's and faculty's particular strengths; there are two or more faculty members actively conducting research in each of the focus areas. If you have interests in other areas, you should feel free to contact individual faculty members in those areas to see if they can support the kind of research you want to pursue.

Focus Areas: American Studies; Manuscript and Print Culture; Medieval Studies; Rhetoric and Composition; Transatlantic Studies; Women and Gender Studies

Common co-disciplines for English include history, art history, education and humanities consortium. For specific information about possible co-disciplines, click here.

Application Deadline:

January 15 (admission for fall semester only)
Because the university closes over the winter holidays and classes may not resume until after Martin Luther King Day, prospective students should initiate contact with the department’s Discipline Coordinator and faculty in November.

Admission Requirements

If you wish to select English as your coordinating discipline, you should meet the following minimum requirements:

  • You should have completed an M.A. degree in English or equivalent coursework as determined by the department's Doctoral Committee.
  • You should have either
    (1) a GRE general examination verbal score in the 60th percentile or better; or
    (2) a score in the 60th percentile or better in the English subject examination.
  • You must demonstrate foreign language competency, typically through two years of college-level language study, with grades of “B” or better.

If you wish to select English as a co-discipline:

  • You should have completed an M.A. (not necessarily in English) or equivalent course work. In most cases, students will be expected to have completed at least 12 hours of upper-division English courses that are approved by the English Department Doctoral Committee.
  • You should have a GRE general examination verbal score in the 60th percentile or better.
  • You must demonstrate foreign language competency as indicated above.

Application Process

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Admissions Procedure

All applicants are encouraged to review the requirements for the Primary and Co-discipline(s) by visiting the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. website. It is recommended that applicants talk to the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Discipline Coordinators in their areas of interest BEFORE applying to the program. Discipline Coordinators offer valuable program, academic and application information.

Please read through all steps below before beginning your application!

Step One (UMKC Web Application):

Complete the UMKC Web Application. Select “Applying to the School of Graduate Studies” and then select “Interdisciplinary Doctorate of Philosophy”. Once you are logged in to the web application system, please be sure to select “Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Studies” as the intended major and then also indicate your preferred primary discipline and co-discipline(s). A list of Participating Disciplines is available on the School of Graduate Studies website.

Step Two (Supplementary Application Materials):

Once the UMKC web application is complete, you will receive an email within 24 to 48 hours inviting you to log in to the Supplementary Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application site. You will use your UMKC web application Username and Password to log in. Additional supplemental materials for Interdisciplinary Ph.D. applicants must be uploaded as .PDFs in the Supplementary Application site. Once the requirements (shown below) are completed, you change your Application Status from “In Process” to “Complete” in the Supplementary Application site so that your application can be reviewed by the disciplines:

  • Narrative statement / Statement of intent
  • Resume / Vita
  • Three letters of recommendation (The applicant provides referee contact information in the Supplementary Application site. The referee receives an email invitation to upload the reference letter into the site.)
  • Writing sample (not required of all disciplines, check applicable discipline requirements at IPhD Studies) Please note: the narrative statement is NOT the same as the writing sample.

Official transcripts should be sent directly to the UMKC Admissions Offices. Please check with the Admissions Office (domestic applicants) or the International Student Affairs Office (ISAO – international applicants) regarding the receipt of your official transcript(s). Your application cannot be reviewed until official transcripts have been received.

Test scores should be sent directly to UMKC from ETS-Institution code: 6872

If you have questions regarding the application process, please contact the School of Graduate Studies at 816-235-1301 or

Additional Information

  1. The deadlines for applications to the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program vary by discipline. All application materials must be uploaded into the Supplementary Application site, and test scores and official transcripts must be received in Admission Offices by the earliest discipline deadline. (For example, if one discipline’s deadline is February 1st and the other March 15th, then application materials must be received by the February 1st deadline.)
  2. Applicants can expect admission decisions approximately two to four weeks after the latest deadline. (For example, if one discipline deadline is February 1st and the other March 15th, an admission decision should be received, approximately, by March 31st to April 15th.
  3. Applicants will be notified of admission decisions by mail. Newly admitted international applicants will receive necessary admission documentation by courier service from the International Student Affairs Office.
  4. Admission decisions cannot be provided over the telephone.

Graduation Requirements

Doctoral students in the English Department are expected to meet all of the School of Graduate Studies requirements.

All IPh.D. students whose primary discipline is English are required to take English 5500: Graduate Study in English, English 5547: Theory and Criticism in English Studies, and twelve additional hours in graduate English courses. Other coursework needs are decided upon in cooperation with members of your committee and will be listed in your plan of study.

It is important to realize that the interdisciplinary nature of doctoral study at UMKC requires considerable initiative on the student's part. Because you are required to fulfill the requirements of more than one discipline, you will need to take an active role in developing a plan of study that meets the demands of each discipline.

Frequently Asked Questions


Comprehensive Exam Guidelines


Application materials

Example of narrative statement with English as coordinating discipline (PDF)

Example of narrative statement with English as co-discipline (PDF)


Helpful Resources

Grad Resource

Getting into Grad School

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab


IPHD Graduates

Contact Info

I.Ph.D. program Administrative Assistant

Quincy Bennett

English I.Ph.D. Coordinator

Joan Dean
Cockefair Hall 114

Discipline Coordinator

Joan Dean