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Master of Arts/Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies

Steps to Completing the Interdisciplinary Studies Master's Degree Program

Step 1 - Admission to the University

Students first apply to the university by completing the "Graduate/Postbaccalaureate Application for Admission" on CSU MENTOR and paying the required admission fee. A prospective student must meet the university's eligibility criteria to be accepted for admission to the university. The minimum requirements for admission to the university are:

a) Attainment of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited 4-year institution, or equivalent academic preparation as determined by the appropriate campus authorities.

b) Good academic standing at the last college or university attended.

c) Attainment of a GPA of at least 2.5 (A = 4.0) in the last 90 quarter (60 semester) units attempted.

d) Satisfaction of the professional, personal, scholastic, and other standards for graduate study, including qualifying examinations, as appropriate campus authorities may prescribe.

Step 2: Applying for the Interdisciplinary Studies Major

Acceptance into the Interdisciplinary Studies major is based upon individual justification. As part of the application process, all applicants must submit in writing a proposed Program Plan for the major in addition to the following:

a) A clearly and concisely stated rationale for pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies major and an indication of the professional/academic objectives to be achieved. This rationale must include evidence clearly indicating that the Interdisciplinary Studies major program could not be accommodated within any existing approved master's degree program on this campus.

b) A proposed list of available courses chosen form two or more departments/divisions totaling a minimum of 45 units, of which at least 23 must be 500-level. Explain the relevance of each course to the Interdisciplinary Studies major. Also include a list of possible alternate courses for the program.

c) A list of undergraduate courses completed in preparation for the proposed Interdisciplinary Studies major. List any prerequisites required prior to approval of classified graduate standing.

d) An indication of whether a comprehensive examination or thesis or project will be used to complete the graduate course of study. If a thesis or project is used, a preliminary description of a thesis topic or research project is to be included. If a comprehensive examination is proposed, an indication of the areas in which the student will be examined is to be included.

e) The names and areas of specialization of at least two faculty members representative of those who might consent to serve on the advisory committee for such a degree program.

The Interdisciplinary Studies major is subject to University graduate procedures and regulations that govern all graduate degree offerings. Students wishing to pursue an Interdisciplinary Studies major are first admitted to the University as Undeclared majors, with Unclassified Standing, and they remain so until their Interdisciplinary Studies major application is approved and they are given Classified Standing. If the proposed degree Program Plan is within one college, the office of that college's graduate dean will handle all of the processing and advisement. If the degree program is between two different colleges, all paperwork will be processed through the Office of Graduate Studies, and program advisement will be handled by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Note that admission to the Interdisciplinary Studies major is a two-step process-the first step is the admission to the University, as described earlier, and the second step is admission into the major. In addition to the requirements for admission to the University, the specific requirements for entry into the Interdisciplinary Studies major are:

- Attainment of a baccalaureate degree in an area cognate to the proposed major.

- A minimum 2.75 GPA in the last 90 quarter units attempted.

- Satisfaction of all requirements of the college and departments or divisions in which coursework for the major is proposed.

Summary of Application Procedures:

When you apply for graduate admission to Cal State L.A. on CSU MENTOR, specify Interdisciplinary Studies as your major/program objective.  Meet with faculty advisors from the departments/divisions in the colleges from which the courses that constitute your program will be taken. Decide on the courses that will provide the necessary units and requirements for your particular master's program. If your proposed Program Plan combines courses from departments in two different colleges, you must meet with the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. If, on the other hand, your proposed Program Plan combines courses from within a single college, you must meet with the associate dean of that college. In either case, this associate dean will be your program advisor, and all paperwork related to the administration of the program you have proposed will be processed through that office. After you meet with this associate dean, you will receive the "Guidelines for a Master of Arts/Master of Science Degree Interdisciplinary Studies." This packet contains the forms "Program for the Master of Arts/Master of Science Degree with the Interdisciplinary Studies Major" and "Preliminary Proposal Form." The latter form requires you to provide a written rationale for your Program Plan, a list of courses and their relevance to the program, courses taken as an undergraduate that have prepared you for your master's program, whether you will take a comprehensive exam or complete a thesis/project, and a list of faculty sponsors and their departments/divisions. When you have completed and submitted your rationale and all required forms, the associate dean will sign your program. Your approved program will be kept on file in this associate dean's office.

Step 3:  Advancement to Candidacy

You must be advanced to candidacy for the master's degree before you can begin to write a thesis/project or take the comprehensive examination. Please note the following standards and procedures for advancement to candidacy. Standards for Advancement to Candidacy 1. Successfully complete all requirements listed in Step 1. Complete 16 units of coursework listed on your approved master's degree Program Plan with a minimum B (3.0) GPA and no grade below a C. Remove any Incompletes. Satisfy the Writing Proficiency Examination (WPE) requirement or have an approved petition for substitution of an alternative method for satisfying this requirement. Procedures for Advancement to Candidacy After completing the above steps, obtain the "Advancement to Candidacy" form (GS-10) from the appropriate associate dean's office, and submit the completed form to that office. The associate dean will verify your eligibility for advancement to candidacy. Once approved, your classification will be changed to G-3, "Advanced to Candidacy."

Step 4 The Culminating Experience All master's programs are required to include a culminating experience, which consists of either a comprehensive examination or a thesis/project. Comprehensive Examination Candidates whose master's degree programs require a comprehensive examination must arrange to take the comprehensive examination as close to the final quarter of their program as feasible. Arrangements are made with the committee chair, subject to the associate dean's approval. Candidates must have maintained a minimum B (3.0) GPA in all course work on the program, with no grade below a C, in order to be approved to take the comprehensive examination. Candidates must have been approved for Advancement to Candidacy. Make sure that you understand the guidelines your committee chair will use in preparing your comprehensive examination early in your program. Also early in your program, obtain from your faculty committee a list of required and/or recommended readings. This information will help you prepare for the examination as you complete your coursework. Procedures for Thesis or Project Students are expected to follow the University's Guide to Preparation of Master's Theses and Project Reports (July 1, 1993), available for purchase in the Cal State L.A. Bookstore or online at the Kennedy Library's website: . You will also need to consult with the departments/divisions from which your coursework is taken about any specific guidelines they have governing theses and project reports. Be sure to consult with your advisers to determine when you should begin planning your thesis or project. You must submit a "Request for Approval of Thesis/Project Topic and Committee" (Form GS-12) to the associate dean's office. If a committee member is ever changed, this form must be re-submitted. You must then register for thesis units-use the course number UNIV 599 if your coursework is in more than one college; students whose courses are all within one college should consult with the appropriate associate dean for guidance on how to register for these units. These units will be under the supervision of your principal faculty adviser, who serves as your thesis/project committee chair. Note that you may not register for thesis units if you have not been advanced to candidacy. As soon as possible after you begin registering for 599 units, you must present your thesis/project proposal and an abstract (not to exceed 150 words) to your committee chair and your other committee members for their approvals. Submit Form GS-14, "Approval of Thesis/Project Proposal," to the associate dean's office after you have secured the required signatures from your committee. If your study involves human subjects, your proposal must go through the University's Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research. Consult carefully with your thesis committee chair about the required procedures. Documents and information related to this procedure may be obtained from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, ADM 301, or telephone (323) 343-5366. If you enroll in all allowable thesis/project units before you finish preparing it, you must register for thesis research units-UNIV 900 for students with courses from two or more college; students with courses from within a single college should check with the appropriate associate dean for the required thesis research units. You must register for 900 units for the remaining quarters until your thesis or project is finally approved and submitted to the University Thesis Coordinator. Note that you may not use university facilities or consult with faculty unless you are registered. Also, it is important to note that you must be officially registered at Cal State L.A. in the quarter in which you intend to graduate. It is strongly advised that you attend a workshop about thesis and project writing offered by the Library twice each quarter. Complete the thesis or project, following both the University Guide to Preparation of Master's Thesis and Project Reports and guidelines from the departments/divisions that oversee your program. If required, present an oral defense of your completed thesis or project in an open meeting to your Thesis/Project Committee. t

Step 5 Applying for Graduation Students must apply for graduation by filling out the "Application for Graduation" form (degree check) available at Administration 146, department/division offices, and college-based advisement centers. Students must be granted permission to apply for graduation by the appropriate associate dean's office before they may submit the completed application and required fee to the Cashiers' Office. Students are required to file an application by the deadline announced in the Schedule of Classes [in the quarter previous to the one they plan to graduate]. Students who do not complete their degree requirements during the stated quarter must file a new application by the deadline announced in the Schedule of Classes. 


Contact the Office of Graduate Studies and Research

Division of Academic Affairs
Office: Adm 710
Phone: (323) 343-3820 | FAX: (323) 343-5653






5151 State University Drive . Los Angeles . CA 90032 . (323) 343-3000
2008 Trustees of the California State University

Last Update: 06/15/2011