Find out more about Union Institute & University

Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies

Program Details

The Union Institute & University (UIU) Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program commits to providing students with an interdisciplinary and socially relevant doctoral education. Its individualized program of study and research aim to ensure that specific content meets the academic hopes and needs of each individual student. According to the program website, the school strives to “retain its grounding in humanistic inquiry while bringing together recently developed and developing interdisciplinary fields of study.”

Through the program, students may gain an advanced understanding of alternative intellectual traditions while also gaining the foundation necessary for thoughtful and creative inquiry. The program offers three areas of concentration, which include Ethical and Creative Leadership, Humanities and Culture, and Public Policy and Social Change. Each concentration involves four fundamental seminars, three academic skills seminars in critical writing and thinking, two research methods seminars, and a variety of seminars and internships specific to concentration their chosen concentration.

Students also have the option of participating in UIU’s innovative MLK specialization. Course requirements are the same – students will simply take seminar courses that specifically focus on MLK’s work, speeches, practices, and influence.

UIU’s PhD program has two additional components: a comprehensive exam and a dissertation. The comprehensive exam portion is comprised of two parts: written exam and oral exam. Students will need to demonstrate an understanding of their concentration through both of these pieces. The dissertation project is similar to that of other doctoral programs. Students choose a specific topic of interest within their chosen concentration to research in-depth. Students write, defend, and present their dissertation project. UIU allows student dissertations to take the form of a traditional paper, an artistic/creative project, or a social action project.


  • Eight academic, on-campus residencies are required
  • Must hold a master’s degree noted from a postsecondary, regionally accredited educational institution
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose

Accreditation & Licensing

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission