Joint Degree Programs

Joint Degree Programs

Students seeking a joint Ph.D. may petition to be admitted into a second department only after completing at least one year in a Ph.D. program.

Students in the Division enrolled in a doctoral program may be permitted to pursue a joint program with another doctoral program in the University leading to a joint degree in both programs. Students admitted to such a joint program pursue a specific course of study depending on their research and professional interests and must satisfy all the requirements of both doctoral programs.

Permission to pursue a joint degree is a privilege extended only to those students who have demonstrated in their work a record of uncommon excellence and who can convincingly demonstrate that they will be able to complete the requirements for each of the two degrees within the maximum time period a student is accorded enrollment status.

Students interested in such a course of study should begin by discussing this option with their Director of Graduate Studies followed by a conversation with Director of Graduate Studies in the other program.  They should subsequently meet with the Assistant Dean of Students for Admissions to discuss their interest and the process to petition for the joint degree.

Students may apply to pursue a standing or an ad hoc joint degree program. Contact your department to find out about available standing joint degree programs.

Admission to a Joint Degree Program

Students wishing to pursue a joint degree program must petition to be admitted into a joint program, whether it is a standing program or an ad hoc program. Students who meet the standards of admission for the second program are, upon approval, admitted to joint degree status. They are not considered to have transferred into the second program, but the original doctoral program remains their sole program for purposes of registration and financial aid including dissertation year fellowships. Students in a joint doctoral program generally will be assigned two faculty advisors, one whose primary appointment is in the original department and one whose primary appointment is in the second department. When a faculty member has an appointment in both departments, one faculty advisor suffices.

The student is to articulate in writing the nature of the research to be undertaken and why training in two doctoral programs is needed. The faculty of each doctoral program will review the proposed project and certify whether the joint course of studies forms an integrated academic whole. 

A petition for a joint degree will not be entertained before the end of the first year of studies.

Petition Process

To file a petition for a joint doctoral degree, students should submit the following documents to the Dean of Students office:

  • a statement of intellectual interests that includes both programs
  • academic work already accomplished and work to be completed to meet the degree requirements of each program
  • at least two letters of endorsement for the program, one from a faculty member in each department; letters should address why the joint degree is necessary for the applicant's doctoral work and the applicant's ability to complete the additional requirements within the standard framework for satisfactory academic progress
  • a curriculum vitae

The petition to pursue an ad hoc joint degree program will be reviewed and needs to be approved by:

  • the Chair of the student’s original department
  • the Chair of the department the student wishes to join
  • the Dean of Students in the Division of the Humanities
  • the Dean of Students of the student’s home Department if other than the Division of the Humanities
  • the Dean in the Division of the Humanities
  • the Dean in the Division of the student’s home Department if other than the Division of the Humanities
  • the Deputy Provost for Graduate Education

The petition to pursue a standing joint degree program, such as between Philosophy and Social Thought, will be reviewed and needs to be approved by:

  • the Chair of the student’s original department
  • the Chair of the department the student wishes to join
  • the Dean of Students in the Division of the Humanities
  • the Dean of Students of the student’s home Department if other than the Division of the Humanities

Joint Degree Requirements

The requirements for the joint degree are the separate requirements for each degree as normally administered in the separate departments.  There are no separate or additional requirements of the joint degree program. The Director of Graduate Studies of each department will articulate in writing the nature of the program requirements that the student is to complete, including coursework, examinations, teaching, and language requirements. In general, any overlapping requirement need only be met once if each department would otherwise consider it met for a student not in the joint degree program.

Overlapping course requirements may be jointly counted toward each degree and language requirements common to the two departments need only be met once.  The examinations for each program will be taken separately and must be passed satisfactorily for each.

Programs have defined teaching requirements and students in the joint program are required to meet the highest requirement. Any overlapping requirements need only be met once.

Proposal requirements must be separately satisfied in both departments and the dissertation will be defended before both departments. The dissertation must meet the dissertation requirements of each department.  There will be one dissertation committee with members from both departments.  Each department must approve the dissertation separately even though there is a joint defense.

Contact Us

Office of the Dean of Students
humdos@uchicago.edu
773.702.1552