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UCF - Graduate Program Handbooks 2017-2018

Program Info

Last Updated 2017-03-02
Interdisciplinary Studies MS


Together, the Graduate Student Handbook and your graduate program handbook should serve as your main guide throughout your graduate career. The Graduate Student Handbook includes university information, policies, requirements and guidance for all graduate students. Your program handbook describes the details about graduate study and requirements in your specific program. While both of these handbooks are wonderful resources, know that you are always welcome to talk with faculty and staff in your program and in the Graduate College.

The central activities and missions of a university rest upon the fundamental assumption that all members of the university community conduct themselves in accordance with a strict adherence to academic and scholarly integrity. As a graduate student and member of the university community, you are expected to display the highest standards of academic and personal integrity.

Here are some resources to help you better understand your responsibilities:


The Interdisciplinary Studies MS program offers students the opportunity to design their own degree by selecting either one of the pre-approved interdisciplinary concentrations such as Environmental Sustainability or Project Management, or two concentration areas from nearly any department at UCF. While the College of Graduate Studies offers over 200 graduate degree programs, some students may have unique interests or require tailored training for a desired career. The Interdisciplinary Master’s program allows students the flexibility to define their educational experience by choosing the content and way in which they complete the degree. The program can be completed either full-time or part-time and participating departments offer a variety of course schedules including day and night courses. The benefit of the Interdisciplinary degree is that applicants can take advantage of the diversity of courses offered on campus and combine them in ways that meet changing workforce and societal demands. The Interdisciplinary nature of the degree allows for it to be responsive to personal and societal needs.


The Thesis Track in the Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies program requires 33 credit hours, including 6 credit hours of required courses, 18 credit hours of restricted electives, 3 credit hours of an unrestricted elective, and 6 credit hours of thesis research.

The Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies program is designed for students interested in an interdisciplinary experience who develop concentrations for their plan of study through courses traditionally associated with MS degrees.

Course work must be selected so that at least 50 percent of credit hours in the program are taken at the 6000 level. Students must earn course grades of "B" or higher to gain credit toward the master's degree.

Required Courses—6 Credit Hours

  • IDS 6308 Ways of Knowing (3 credit hours)
  • A methods course in one of the chosen concentrations (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses—21 Credit Hours

Restricted Elective Courses—18 Credit Hours

Students take a minimum of 18 credit hours in restricted electives, including two concentrations of 9 credit hours of courses each. Course and concentration selections are done in consultation with and with approval of the program director or academic coordinator, as well as with the student's faculty adviser and thesis committee. 

  • Three courses in the first concentration (9 credit hours)
  • Three courses in the second concentration (9 credit hours)

Unrestricted Elective Course—3 Credit Hours

  • Unrestricted elective (3 credit hours)

Thesis—6 Credit Hours

  • IDS 6971 Thesis (6 credit hours)

Students should select a faculty adviser and form a thesis committee of two additional members by their third semester in the program. Before officially beginning work on the thesis, the student must submit a thesis proposal to the committee for approval. This proposal must cover the thesis topic and plan of approach. By the end of their degree, students will complete 6 credit hours of thesis and successfully defend their thesis. The thesis consists of a common theme with an introduction and literature review, details of the study, and results and conclusions. The thesis must be prepared and submitted in writing as well as presented and defended orally.  

Timeline for Completion

The Interdisciplinary Studies MS is a total of 33 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s. All students in the program must choose either from the list of pre-approved interdisciplinary concentrations, such as Environmental Sustainability or Project Management, or two disciplines/concentrations on which to base their degree. Each concentration will require 9 hours for a total of 18 credit hours. For the thesis option students will complete 6 hours of required core courses, 6 hours of thesis (minimum), and 3 hours of elective courses. The program can be completed in two years if pursued full-time.

Each student will submit a Proposed Plan of Study at the time of application. This plan outlines the specific courses desired for the degree and alternates should schedule or enrollment issues arise. Given the complex nature of the Interdisciplinary Studies program, in which students take courses from around the university, there is no one model that fits every student. Each plan is personal and customized.

It should be noted that a formal Program of Study must be submitted before the completion of 12 credit hours and approved by the program director. If courses not listed on the Program of Study are taken without prior approval, the program reserves the right to not accept those courses towards the completion of your degree. The Program of Study becomes part of your academic file and can be changed through consultation with the Interdisciplinary Studies Coordinator. All changes must be approved by the Program Director prior to taking the classes.

Additionally, program milestones have been developed to guide students towards the successful completion of their degree. Students should be aware of these milestones and stay in contact with the Interdisciplinary Studies Coordinator on a regular basis.

Thesis Milestones (Meet with Interdisciplinary Studies Coordinator)

0-9 hours: Meet to review planned Program of Study (in application) and create personal timeline for degree completion

9-12 hours: Meet to submit a finalized Program of Study before completion of 12 hours

18-24 hours: Meet to create/finalize Thesis Committee

27-30 hours: Thesis proposal to committee members

30-33 hours: Thesis review, submission, and defense

Thesis Requirements

You may enroll in thesis hours and begin work on your thesis usually after you have completed a majority of credit hours towards the degree. The faculty thesis advisor will chair the thesis committee and assume primary responsibility in directing your research. When a topic has been selected, you, in conjunction with your thesis chair, will develop a thesis proposal. Copies of the proposal will be routed to members of the thesis committee and to the Graduate Advisor. Once the proposal has been approved, and when appropriate, the research instrument has been referred to the Institutional Review Board for approval, a timetable for the completion of the thesis will be developed and work may begin. Upon completion, you will schedule an oral thesis defense. The thesis defense is open to all interested parties and must be publicly announced at least two weeks in advance. You should begin planning your research early in the plan of study. UCF has strict guidelines for the editorial format of the Master's Thesis. As such, it is of utmost importance that you become familiar with the University’s requirements and deadlines for organizing and submitting the thesis.

University Thesis Requirements

The College of Graduate Studies Thesis and Dissertation page contains information on the university’s requirements for dissertation formatting, format review, defenses, final submission, and more. A step-by-step completion guide is also available at Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation.

All university deadlines are listed in the Academic Calendar. Your program or college may have other earlier deadlines; please check with your program and college staff for additional deadlines.

The following requirements must be met by dissertation students in their final term:

  • Submit a properly formatted file for initial format review by the format review deadline
  • Submit the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form well before the defense
  • Defend by the defense deadline
  • Receive format approval (if not granted upon initial review)
  • Submit signed approval form by final submission deadline
  • Submit final dissertation document by final submission deadline

Students must format their dissertation according to the standards outlined at Formatting the ETD. Formatting questions or issues can be submitted to the Format Help page in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site. Format reviews and final submission must be completed in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site. The Dissertation Approval Form is also available in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site.

The College of Graduate Studies offers several thesis and dissertation Workshops each term. Students are highly encouraged to attend these workshops early in the dissertation process to fully understand the above policies and procedures.

The College of Graduate Studies thesis and dissertation office is best reached by email at

Thesis Committee

A master’s student’s thesis committee must consist of at least three members and be approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Advisor by using the Thesis Committee Approval Form. The Thesis Chair must be a regular faculty member with a terminal degree in their field. Of the other two members, at least one must be a qualified regular faculty member at the University. All three members must be approved graduate faculty with qualifications to serve on thesis committees (

Adjuncts, visiting faculty, courtesy appointments or qualified individuals from outside the university may serve as the third member or co-chair of the committee, but may not serve as the chair. If there are co-chairs, one must satisfy faculty qualifications for serving as a chair of a thesis advisory committee. The other co-chair must satisfy the minimum requirements for serving as a member of a thesis advisory committee. Qualifications of additional members must be equivalent to that expected of UCF faculty members. UCF faculty members must form the majority of any given committee.

For more details about the Thesis Committee, please refer to the UCF Graduate Catalog: > Policies > Master’s Program Policies > Thesis Requirements > Thesis Advisory Committee Composition

Thesis Enrollment

Prior to enrollment into the Thesis course, your thesis committee must be reviewed and approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Advisor.

While you are engaging in thesis research you must be continuously enrolled in at least three hours of thesis every semester, including summers, until you successfully defend and submit your thesis to the University. This enrollment each semester reflects the expenditure of university resources, and is required even if more than the minimum number of hours is needed for completion of the thesis.

To enroll in directed research, directed readings, or thesis hours, you will be required to complete a registration agreement form, which will be completed by your thesis chair and then submitted to the Interdisciplinary Studies Office. The Graduate Advisor will then register you for these hours.

Graduate Research

Research is a critical component of graduate education. Students are expected to begin research activities early in their graduate training and to pursue a research agenda throughout their graduate careers. Course work is designed to promote the integration of conceptual issues, research design, and interdisciplinary knowledge, and to provide students with the skills and experience required to conduct empirical research. Active involvement in research throughout graduate training, such as presentation of research at conferences and meetings and manuscript submission to scientific journals is strongly encouraged of all students.

Research requires competence and sensitivity in dealing with research participants, colleagues, clients, and supervisers. Students are required to make ethical decisions and have a responsibility to monitor and evaluate behaviors that may compromise the ability to function as graduate students, and to take steps to address any problems that arise. Researchers in every discipline have a responsibility for ethical awareness as the status of the profession rests with each individual researcher. The ethical collection and use of information includes, but is by no means limited to, issues of confidentiality, accuracy, relevance, self-responsibility, honesty, and awareness of conflicts of interest.

All theses and research involving original data collection from human subjects, including surveys, must obtain approval from an independent board, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), prior to starting the research. Graduate students and the faculty that supervise them are required to complete training on IRB policies, so this needs to start well in advance of the research start date. It is imperative that proper procedures are followed when conducting research on human subjects. In addition, should the nature of the research or the faculty supervision change since the IRB approval was obtained, then new IRB approval must be sought. Failure to obtain this prior approval will jeopardize receipt of the student’s degree. Office of Research and Commercialization: > Compliance >IRB

Travel support for conference presentation

The Division of Graduate Studies offers a Graduate Travel Award that provides funding for master’s, specialist, and doctoral students to deliver a research paper or comparable creative activity at a professional meeting. Students must be the primary author and presenter. More information can be found on the Graduate Studies website: > Current Students > Financial Matters.

Graduate Student Travel Funding is also available through Student Government to pay transportation expenses for graduate students who are delivering a research paper or comparable creative activity at a professional meeting.  Contact the Student Government Association for information at 407/823-5648 or visit their website at

Human Subjects

If the student chooses to conduct research that involves human subjects (i.e. surveys, interviews, etc.), he or she must gain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to beginning the study. For access to the IRB submission form and sample consent forms, please visit the Office of Research website: > Compliance > UCF IRB Webpage > UCF-IRB Principal Investigator’s Manual

Animal Subjects

If the student chooses to conduct research that involves animal subjects, he or she must gain Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval prior to beginning the study. For access to the IACUC submission forms, please visit the Office or Research website: > Compliance > UCF IACUC Webpage > Animal Use Approval Form

If you have questions regarding human or animal subjects, please contact Ms. Barbara Ward, IRB Coordinator, at (407) 823-2901.

Ethics in Research

Researchers in every discipline have a responsibility for ethical awareness as the status of the profession rests with each individual researcher. It is important to be honest and ethical in conducting research as well as in taking classes. The ethical collection and use of information includes, but is by no means limited to, the following: confidentiality, accuracy, relevance, self-responsibility, honesty, and awareness of conflict of interest. The University of Arizona’s Code of Research Ethics provides our students with guidelines for responsible practice in research.

Patent and Invention Policy

UCF has three fundamental responsibilities with regard to graduate student research. They are (1) to support an academic environment that stimulates the spirit of inquiry, (2) to develop the intellectual property stemming from research, and (3) to disseminate the intellectual property to the general public. UCF owns the intellectual property developed using university resources. The graduate student as inventor will, according to this policy, share in the proceeds of the invention.

The full policy is available online from the Graduate Catalog:

Financial Support

Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, students should consult the funding section of the College of Graduate Studies website or the financial aid office for descriptions and requirements of graduate financial support. This will describe the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances.

International Students

Several types of employment are available to international students, including on-campus employment. For more information about the types of employment available to international students, and the requirements and restrictions based in visa-type, please see the International Services Center’s website: > Current Students > Employment

Graduate Student Associations

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is UCF's graduate organization committed to enrich graduate students' personal, educational and professional experience. To learn more or get involved, please visit For individual department or graduate program organizations, please see program advisor.

Professional Development

Research is a critical component of training in any graduate program. Students are expected to begin research activities early in their graduate training and to continue a research agenda throughout their graduate career. As a part of this agenda, students should present their research at professional conferences whenever possible. Depending on your area of concentration, various conferences, meetings, and professional events may be held for that profession or area of study. Students are encouraged to contact faculty who present at these meetings for more specific information. UCF also hosts a graduate research forum each year. This local event is a wonderful opportunity to gain experience by presenting research.

UCF hosts a series of workshops including presentations on professional development activities.  Students are encouraged to attend these workshops whenever possible. You may learn more about these opportunities through the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (, and the Graduate Studies office ( 

Travel Support

The College of Graduate Studies offers a Graduate Travel Award that provides funding for master’s, specialist, and doctoral students to deliver a research paper or comparable creative activity at a profession meeting. Students must be the primary author and presenter. For more information please visit,

Graduate Students Travel Funding is also available through Student Government to pay transportation expenses for graduate students who are delivering a research paper or comparable creative activity at a professional meeting. Contact the Student Government Association at (407) 823-5648 for more information.

Preparing Tomorrow's Faculty Program

This certificate program (12-weeks) consists of group and individualized instruction by Faculty Center staff and experienced UCF professors. Textbooks and materials are provided. 

For more information about the program visit or call 407-823-3544.

Pathways to Success Workshops

Coordinated by the College of Graduate Studies, the Pathways to Success program offers free development opportunities for graduate students including workshops in Academic Integrity, Graduate Grantsmanship, Graduate Teaching, Personal Development, Professional Development, and Research. For more information and how to register, please visit

Graduate Excellence Awards

Each year, students can submit a portfolio for nomination of College and University level awards of excellence. These are intended to showcase student excellence in academic achievement, teaching, research, leadership, and community service.

These awards include the following:

Award for Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant - For students who provide teaching support and assistance under the direction of a lead teacher. This award focuses on the extent and quality of the assistance provided by the student to the lead instructor and the students in the class. (Not intended for students who are instructor of record).

Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching - For students who serve as instructors of record and have independent classroom responsibilities. The focus of this award is on the quality of the student’s teaching and the academic contributions of those activities.

Award for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis - To recognize graduate students for excellence in the master’s thesis. The focus of this award is on the quality and contribution of the student’s thesis research. Excellence of the master’s thesis may be demonstrated by evidences such as (but not limited to): publications in refereed or peer-reviewed journals, awards and recognitions from professional organizations, and praise from faculty members and other colleagues in the field.

For more information about these awards, please visit the Graduate Awards section of the College of Graduate Studies website.

For more information about the Council of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) thesis and dissertation awards, please see their website: > Awards.

Graduate Research Forum

Sponsored by the College of Graduate Studies, the Research Forum is an opportunity for students to showcase their research and creative projects and to receive valuable feedback from faculty judges. Awards for best poster and best oral presentation in each category will be given, and all participants will receive recognition.  For more information please visit:  

Job Search

Career Services

Graduate career development issues are unique and include evaluating academic and nonacademic career choices, discussing graduate school effect on career choices, as well as learning, evaluating, and refining networking and interviewing skills. Whatever your needs, the offices of Career Services and Experiential Learning offer services and resources to aid in the career exploration and job search of Master and Doctoral students in every academic discipline.



Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own. Any ideas, data, text, media or materials taken from another source (either written or verbal) must be fully acknowledged.a) A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, opinions, theories, formulas, graphics, or pictures of another person without acknowledgment.b) A student must give credit to the originality of others whenever:

  1. Directly quoting another person's actual words, whether oral or written;
  2. Using another person's ideas, opinions, or theories;
  3. Paraphrasing the words, ideas, opinions, or theories of others, whether oral or written;
  4. Borrowing facts, statistics, or illustrative material; or
  5. Offering materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or collections without acknowledgment.

When using the ideas, opinions, theories, formulas, graphics, or pictures of another, students must give credit to the original source at the location or place in the document where that source's material is found as well as provide bibliographic information at the end of the document. When students are verbally discussing the ideas, opinions, theories, formulas, graphics, or pictures of another, they must give credit to the original source at the time they speak about that source. In this manner, students must make clear (so there is no doubt) within their written or verbal materials, which parts are gained from other sources, and which are their own original ideas, theories, formulas, graphics, and pictures.The Office of Student Conduct has a set of criteria that determines if students are in violation of plagiarism. This set of criteria may be set to a higher standard in graduate programs. Therefore, a student may not be found in violation of plagiarism by the Office of Student Conduct, but a professor or program requiring higher standards of attribution and citation may find a student in violation of plagiarism and administer program level sanctions. The standard in doctoral programs should be the highest as students earning these degrees are expected to be experts in their fields and producing independent work that contributes knowledge to their discipline.

Example of Material that has been appropriately cited:

Paraphrased Material

Source: Osborne, Richard, ed. How to Grow Annuals. 2nd ed. Menlo Park: Lane, 1974. Print. Page 24: As a recent authority has pointed out, for a dependable long-blooming swatch of soft blue in your garden, ageratum is a fine choice. From early summer until frost, ageratum is continuously covered with clustered heads of fine, silky, fringed flowers in dusty shades of lavender-blue, lavender-pink or white. The popular dwarf varieties grow in mounds six to twelve inches high and twelve inches across; they make fine container plants. Larger types grow up to three feet tall. Ageratum makes an excellent edging.

Use and Adaptation of the Material:

You can depend on ageratum if you want some soft blue in your garden. It blooms through the summer and the flowers, soft, small, and fringed, come in various shades of lavender. The small varieties which grow in mounds are very popular, especially when planted in containers. There are also larger varieties. Ageratum is good as a border plant (Osborne 24).


The writer has done a good job of paraphrasing what could be considered common knowledge (available in a number of sources), but because the structure and progression of detail is someone else’s, the writer has acknowledged the source. This the writer can do at the end of the paragraph since he or she has not used the author’s words.

The above example was provided by Northwestern University.

Northwestern University, Sept. 2016. “Academic Integrity: A Basic Guide.” Accessed 20 September 2017.

For more information about Academic Honesty, Click here.

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