Michigan State University is one of the best places in the world for advanced cross-disciplinary studies. As a top 100 global research university with strong roots in community engagement, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges. We provide life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through 280 graduate degree programs, over 30 graduate specializations, and nearly 75 graduate certificates in 14 degree-granting colleges.
Whether multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or beyond, all forms of cross-disciplinary work can find a home here. Scroll down to explore the many ways you can combine different areas of expertise in your graduate studies at Michigan State University.
Click the first tile of each category for an overview.
Cross-Disciplinary Graduate Degrees
At MSU, there are many ways to combine areas of study into one degree or two. Their names can be confusing, so read this guidance from the University Curriculum Committee. Find more details about each option back on the main page.
Options for Cross-Disciplinary Graduate Degrees at MSU
|One Degree, One Major||One Degree, Two Majors||Two Degrees|
|One Institution (MSU)||
Inherently Cross-Disciplinary Major
Dual Major Doctoral Degree
Two MSU Degrees
|Two Institutions (MSU+)||
Single Cross-Disciplinary Major
MSU has strong cross-disciplinary graduate and professional programs in every college. More are being developed every year! These programs count as a single major, resulting in a single degree. Explore the cross-disciplinary graduate programs offered at MSU below.
Explore All Graduate Majors
Choose an Interdepartmental Program
Interdepartmental graduate programs let students tap into the unique disciplinary cultures and resources of two or more departments while pursuing a single graduate degree.
Dual Major Doctoral Degree
Doctoral students can develop expertise in two different programs while getting a single degree from MSU. This is a "dual major doctoral degree," sometimes called a "dual degree" for short. (But note this is different from the official "dual degree," which is with another institution).
Existing Programs: These graduate programs are only available as a secondary or "dual" major, alongside a different doctoral program. So, a student can only be admitted to them after they enroll in their primary program at MSU.
Dual Degree with Another Institution
MSU's official "dual degree" is a dual degree with another institution. It awards two degrees for a single program of study, one degree from MSU and the other from another institution. This is different from a "dual major doctoral degree," which is a single degree entirely from MSU and is sometimes also called a "dual degree" for short. A dual degree with another institution can only be pursued through an existing program.
Joint Degree with Another Institution
A "joint degree" is a single degree awarded by MSU and another institution. Currently, there are no joint degree programs at MSU.
Two MSU Degrees
Students can take advantage of the variety of graduate and professional degrees offered at MSU by getting two degrees at once. With some exceptions, students must complete all requirements for both degrees separately. Many often call this path a "dual degree," but it is different from the official "dual degree," which is with another institution, and different from the dual doctoral major degree. Check out the descriptions and examples below to learn what's possible.
Example Master's-Doctorate Combination
Umbrella Admission Program
The BioMolecular Sciences admissions gateway invites students in the biological sciences looking for studies that might not fit the simple disciplinary titles of departments and programs. Students rotate through labs and select a major after their first year.
Graduate Specialization or Certificate
A graduate specialization or certificate expands your repertoire through a small program of study you take along with your degree requirements. Some overlap in requirements is allowed. See links for details.
Cross-Disciplinary Guidance Committee
For programs that require a guidance committee—plan A master's and most doctoral programs—you have options for including committee members from different disciplines. Most programs allow students to include committee members from outside of their program. With approval, you can even include experts from outside MSU on your committee. Being co-advised by co-chairs from two disciplines is also an option. So is a different dissertation committee. Find out more back on the main page.
If your program approves, consider being co-advised by faculty in two different disciplines. The faculty members can be from any unit across the University.
A Different Dissertation Committee
If your guidance committee approves, you can have a (slightly or completely) different dissertation committee that includes faculty from other disciplines. For instance, you can have a different dissertation chair from your guidance chair. Learn more in Graduate Student Rights & Responsibilities 184.108.40.206.
Cross-Disciplinary Research Facilities & Centers
MSU is home to an array of world-class facilities, centers, and institutes—many of which cross disciplinary boundaries. Graduate students and faculty mentors can affiliate with or participate in these vibrant communities for an afternoon, a side project, or an entire thesis or dissertation. See especially MSU's Center for Interdisciplinarity. Preview some of our newest and most exciting facilities below. Find comprehensive lists of our facilities back on the main page.
MSU Facility for Rare Isotope Beams
STEM Teaching & Learning Facility
Core MSU Research Facilities
MSU research facilities serve many disciplines on campus. Some facilities have established programs for graduate student involvement. Others are less formal. All open doors to world-class cross-disciplinary research. Check out the list from MSU's Office of Research and Innovation.
New MSU Infrastructure
In concert with MSU 2030, our new university strategic plan, MSU is building new facilities that foster collaboration and flexible rearrangements of space. Follow the link to view the latest from MSU's Infrastructure, Planning, & Facilities group.
MSU Centers & Institutes
MSU centers and institutes focus study, education, and outreach on topics that cut across traditional departments. Like research facilities, some centers and institutes have established programs for involving graduate students. Others are less formal. Browse the full list from MSU's Office of Research & Innovation.
MSU is a top 100 global impact university, and our internationally-focused centers are at the heart of this global reach. These centers focus on specific regions or international issues. Like MSU's other centers and institutes, some have formal programs for involving graduate students. Others are less formal. Click through the full list from MSU's Office of International Studies & Programs.
MSU Campus Arts Corridor
A key focus of MSU's 2030 strategic plan is developing a 21st-century arts corridor that expands on the innovative footprints of the Billman Music Pavilion and Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, designing world-class facilities to match our world-class arts faculty. Investing in the arts makes Michigan State stronger, builds community through a deepening sense of belonging and further establishes MSU as a destination for top faculty and graduate students.
Cross-Disciplinary Co-Curricular Activities
At MSU, we recognize that learning and growth take place beyond the classroom. Various opportunities across the University can expand your learning horizons into a new field. Return to the main page to explore just some of the options including assistantships, internships, and community engagement.
Assistantship & Employment
Take an assistantship or hourly employment in another unit. The best way to find one of these positions is to express your interest with the relevant unit leader, such as the graduate program coordinator, department chair, or college graduate associate/assistant dean.
Graduate and professional students belong everywhere in society that smart people are needed. Graduate intern/externships at MSU prepare students to apply and develop their expertise in real world settings that require crossing disciplinary boundaries. Here are a few example programs.
Sharing Expertise & Exploring Knowledge (SEEK) Program
The Sharing Expertise and Exploring Knowledge (SEEK) program is designed for students who wish to discover ways to communicate knowledge to broader audiences.
Engaged Philosophy Internship Program (EPIP)
Through the creation of the Engaged Philosophy Internship Program (EPIP), MSU's Department of Philosophy is hoping to change how the world views philosophy—and how philosophers view the world. The program connects philosophers with projects and interests outside of academia and includes work with community organizations and other non-academic partners.
Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (MSU BEST)
Earning a PhD in a biomedical science is an enormous achievement. The goal of MSU BEST is to empower trainees to develop professional skills and experiences which will permit them to pursue careers that will be personally and professionally meaningful.
MSU is a world leader in the scholarship and practice of community engagement. Get free training and resources, build your network, gain recognition, and make a difference through MSU's deep history and broad activity in mutually-respectful relationships with communities beyond the university. The links below are just a few entry points to this vibrant community of practice at MSU. Also see "Cross-Disciplinary Internships" back on the main page.
The scholarship of teaching & learning (SOTL) and discipline-based educational research (DBER) can be natural ways to integrate your content expertise with the disciplines of learning. Apply for and complete a graduate teaching fellowship at MSU.
Tutoring or Coaching
Integrate your expertise with the backgrounds that others bring when you tutor or coach them. For example, working as a consultant for the Writing Center can be a great way to integrate the discipline of writing with your content expertise if you are passionate about communication and scholarship in your field.
MSU encourages graduate & professional student entrepreneurship. You can freelance, start your own consulting firm, patent your inventions, and create a tech start up, just to name a few options. Note there are limits to total hours worked every week if you are employed with MSU as a graduate assistant or hourly employee. Check out the resources below to learn how MSU supports student entrepreneurship.