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Application Process

How do I apply for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Interdisciplinary Studies?

You may apply here. Click on “Create a New Profile” to begin the application process.

Our application requirements are:

  • Online application form and fee ($50)
  • Statement of purpose (guidelines listed on the website)
  • Resume or CV – Submitted via email to
  • Three letters of recommendation, one of which must be from someone who holds a Ph.D. in, or similar to, your field of study
  • Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from regionally accredited universities and official transcripts of all attempted coursework at the bachelor’s, master’s, and/or doctoral levels Transcripts must be sent directly from the granting institution to the following address:

Union Institute & University
Attn: Doctoral Admissions
440 East McMillan Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206

What is the timeline for the application process?

The application deadline for the January 2014 is November 1, 2013. Upon completion of your application file, the Admissions Committee will review all applications and contact you for a telephone interview, if your application meets the committee guidelines.

Is the GRE required?

No. Union Institute & University does not require any standardized testing prior to admission.

What is the Admissions Committee looking for?

The admissions criteria, in order of priority, are the following:

  1. Intellectual/analytical ability and academic preparation as demonstrated through transcripts, letters of recommendation, application essay, and telephone interview.
  2. Openness to and interest in doctoral research and advanced learning –or, stated differently, the absence of a dogmatic or closed or fixed point of view.
  3. Reasonable fit within the three areas of concentration.
  4. Related considerations such as personal/professional schedule that makes it possible for an applicant to participate fully in the low-residency format, ability to work with others, and similar factors.

Union Institute & University Minimum Computer Proficiency/Literacy
Students entering into Union Institute & University’s degree programs are expected to have a basic working knowledge of computers.

Financing a Doctoral Program

What is the cost?

Tuition in the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is charged on a per credit hour basis. See the tuition/costs page for exact tuition numbers. Factors such as tuition rate, travel costs associated with the twice yearly residencies, and other individual factors make it difficult to calculate the cost of the entire program upfront. Some costs to keep in mind include:

  • Tuition.
  • Technology fee.
  • Books.
  • Travel, lodging, and meals at residencies.
  • New computer or laptop, if needed.

Is financial aid available?

Union Institute & University participates in the federal student loan program. In our Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program, approximately 70% of students are utilizing some form of government loan. For many people, securing the funding for Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) studies is the hardest part. Recommendations for finding financial help include:

  • Using the Internet to research scholarship opportunities from private organizations. Some websites for free scholarship searches include:
  • Contact the professional organizations related to your field(s) of study about what scholarship opportunities they offer.
  • Consider working with an organization which might be interested in your research and/or helping you find scholarships.

What scholarships are available from Union Institute & University?

Union Institute & University offers several modest scholarship opportunities to students in their second and third year of study. For more information on scholarships, see the Union Institute & University scholarship information page.

Union Institute & University Profile

Who are you accredited by?

Union Institute & University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association.
Web address:
Phone #: 1-800-621-7440

When was Union Institute & University founded?

Union Institute & University has been a leader of innovative education since 1964. It was originally established by ten college presidents as The Union for Research and Experimentation, a consortium of progressive schools. Union became a degree-granting institution in 1971. In November 2001, the name was changed from The Union Institute to Union Institute & University. Union Institute & University's enrollment stands at 2,500 students, with more than 18,000 alumni worldwide.

What is the average age of Union Institute & University doctoral students?

The average age of a doctoral student ranges from the mid-30's to the mid-50's.

How does interdisciplinary study work?

Interdisciplinary study demands a willingness to question ideas from the perspectives of more than one academic discipline. The UI&U doctoral program is all about discovery and problem solving from an interdisciplinary perspective. Grounded firmly in the belief that students must examine the knowledge base and approach to discovery of more than a single academic discipline, core values of the Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies are: 1) for matters of fact and value, a variety of views are at issue, hence students need to explore and acquire familiarity with a range of interpretations related to academic areas of concentration and research and 2) intellectual inquiry and creative efforts are carried on within and are inseparable from social contexts.

Do you accept transfer credit?

Up to nine (9) semester hour credits (the equivalent of three (3) doctoral-level courses) from a regionally accredited university are eligible to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee for approval of transfer. The transfer courses must have been completed in the past five years with an equivalent grade of “B” or above. Courses applied toward an earned master’s degree are not eligible to be reviewed for transfer.

A Transfer Credit Petition Form, transcripts, syllabi and all written assignments for courses considered for transfer must be submitted as part of the PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies application package. Union Institute & University reserves the right to apply, or not apply, acceptable transfer credit toward its degree requirements. In no case will transfer credit negate the 36 month time in program length. Union Institute & University operates on a semester system; therefore, courses taken at colleges operating on the quarter system are converted to semester credit hours.

Program Requirements

How much time will it take to complete the program?

The minimum amount of time for a student to complete the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program and earn a doctoral degree is three academic years of full-time enrollment (36 months). The 36 month time in program length is a requirement. The degree program is 66 credit hours. The maximum amount of time allotted for a student to earn a doctoral degree is seven (7) years.

Can I study part-time?

Yes, there is a part-time option for the Ph.D. program. Students who are part-time register for 6 credit hours each term, rather than the full-time load of 9-12 credit hours. The maximum time allotted to complete the program is seven (7) years regardless if a student is full or part-time.

When can I begin the doctoral program?

The Ph.D. program admits two cohorts each year; the first in January and the second in July.

What is the residency requirement?

Academic residencies are held twice a year, in January and July, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and run for nine days. Students are asked to be in residence without spouse or guests for the duration of each academic residency throughout their enrollment in the program. During this time, students begin their classes in somewhat of a traditional setting, attend workshops, and participate in other academic activities. Attendance at all scheduled activities (unless indicated as optional) during the academic residency is required.

How do I find when the upcoming residencies will be held?

You can visit our residency program page for information on the residency and residency program dates.

Program Delivery

What does distance learning mean? Is this an online degree?

The Cohort Ph.D. program uses a hybrid and distributed model for program delivery. The academic year for the Cohort Ph.D. program is divided into two six-month terms: January 1 to June 30 and July 1 to December 31. At the beginning of every January and July new and returning students come together for nine days at an academic residency. The students move through the doctoral program as members of cohorts that are formed within and across the program’s three areas of concentration and are determined by the date of the Initial Academic Residency. The cohort model leads to the formation of academic communities through regular and sustained interaction among students and between students and faculty. Course work is delivered through seminars that incorporate and integrate face to face interaction (during academic residencies), individual and group work, teleconferences, web-based course sites and other electronic technology such as Adobe Connect.

What classes will I take?

The course of study (over 6 terms, 3 years) for the Cohort Ph.D. program includes the following:

  • Interdisciplinary Foundational Seminars
  • Academic Skills Seminars
  • Core and Advanced Seminars in Primary Area of Concentration
  • Research Methods Seminars
  • Electives
  • Individualized Studies
  • Comprehensive Exams (written and oral)
  • Dissertation

Will I be required to take a foreign language?

The curriculum in the Ph.D. program does not include any foreign language courses..

What does the Ph.D. represent?

For some it’s the ticket into a select group of professionals. For others it’s about working to make a lifelong dream come true. Intrinsically the doctoral experience prepares you for further research, increasingly responsible roles at work, and/or new challenges in your field. Specifically, the Cohort Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies develops interdisciplinary and socially engaged knowledge in its students. The distinctive role of the graduates of the Cohort Ph.D. program, for now and the foreseeable future, is to retain their grounding in humanistic inquiry while bringing together recently developed and developing interdisciplinary fields of study in ways that draw from and advance understanding of ethics, the creative process, and the problems and possibilities of institutional and social change. Graduates of the Cohort Ph.D. program join a new generation of adult students with advanced understanding of alternative intellectual and cultural traditions and the foundations for thoughtful, and creative engagement with fundamental dimensions of their individual and public lives.

How are my studies evaluated? How do grades work in the doctoral program?

To emulate the academic peer review process and enhance student learning, discrete grades are not assigned for individual papers and assignments. This policy is followed in all seminars offered in the Cohort Ph.D. program. Assuming the role of mentor rather than grader, the instructor provides sustained and detailed feedback on individual papers and assignments throughout the entire seminar. Letter or number grades are not attached to these assignments. The Cohort Ph.D. program uses a letter grade system for reporting final grades in seminars. This system follows the grading policy described in the Student Handbook and grades are determined in a manner outlined by the individual instructor in the syllabus of each seminar. The syllabus for each seminar will specify the learning documentation to be completed for evaluation. The faculty assigned to each seminar will determine the extent to which proficiency is met and assign a final grade.