Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies?
A: Hiram is a leader in interdisciplinary studies. Our faculty members excel at teaching across disciplines while demonstrating the interconnectedness of knowledge. Hiram also has a reputation for meeting the needs of adult learners.
This degree is ideal for adult learners from a variety of professional backgrounds. Taking classes from the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, when combined with a capstone research experience, is excellent preparation for those wishing to enhance their professional opportunities and to enrich their understanding of a complex and rapidly changing world.
Q: What type of student is attracted to the program?
A: Intellectually curious students who are looking for an academically challenging graduate program; persons with a desire to explore issues across multiple academic disciplines; and individuals who want to engage in a community of learners are ideal candidates for the program. This is a program that appeals to individuals who understand the convenience of earning a master's degree by taking classes on alternate weekends.
Q: What can I do with an MAIS degree?
A: The MAIS is an alternative to highly specialized graduate programs that have a strict occupational focus. Consequently, graduates leave the program prepared to apply their critical thinking skills. They may continue in their current career with a broader base of knowledge, thereby identifying new challenges and taking on additional responsibilities, and others may wish to pursue a new career. The program also provides an expansive, balanced education to serve students wishing to pursue a Ph.D.
Q: Can I design my program to respond to my interests?
A: Yes. Working with a faculty adviser, students can tailor their program to reflect their interests and passion for additional learning. The program has been designed for students interested in the exploration of knowledge across many disciplines.
Q: How quickly can I complete the program?
A: The program is designed to be completed in two years (including summers). However, some students may take longer to complete the degree, and the program has enough flexibility to meet the needs of such students. Students who gain admittance to the program are required to complete their degree within a maximum of five years.
Q: Who are the faculty?
A: They are full-time members of the Hiram College faculty. In addition, courses that explore issues relevant to specialized fields, such as medicine and law, may draw from the expertise of advanced professionals. All hold appropriate terminal degrees; in almost all cases, that means a Ph.D. All faculty have extensive experience in interdisciplinary studies and teaching adult learners.
Q: What is the structure of the program?
A: Students complete two core six-credit-hour interdisciplinary courses prior to their elective coursework. Students and their faculty mentors develop a close relationship that promotes intellectual exchanges within a trusting social structure. In order to fulfill the degree requirements, students must successfully complete a capstone research experience which includes an oral presentation of the student's research.
In terms of class schedules, courses are offered on alternate weekends during the academic year to meet the needs of adult students, many of whom work full-time. During the summer, courses are offered in a variety of formats.
Q: What resources are available to me?
A: The Office of Graduate Studies at Hiram provides comprehensive support services to adult learners. Students can take care of all administrative matters through this office. The office is open when students are on campus. In terms of academic advising, each student will be assigned a faculty adviser who will discuss individual academic progress, future coursework and research work. Students also benefit from other campus offices: Career Services, Library Services, Academic Support and the Writing Center. All are experienced in working with adult learners.
Q: Do other colleges have programs like this?
A: The master's degree in liberal and interdisciplinary studies was pioneerd by respected institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Duke and Dartmouth. The first such master's level program was offered in the 1940s. Since then, more than 125 institutions of higher education have launched similar graduate degree programs. The focus of these programs is to contribute to the intellectual, social and ethical development of students.
Q: What are the admission requirements?
A: Admission is selective. Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Preference will be given to students who have at least three to five years of work experience. Applicants must complete the application form and submit two letters of recommendation, transcripts from all schools previously attended, a writing sample and a personal essay. The admission process includes a personal interview with a member of Hiram's Graduate Studies Council.
Q: Can I transfer into the program?
A: Yes. Transfer students must meet the same admission requirements as regular students. Generally, no more than six semester hours will be accepted from another institution toward the MAIS degree.
Q: Can I take graduate level courses without pursuing the master's degree?
A: Yes. Those students who wish to take individual graduate level courses may enroll on a non-matriculating basis. Applicants for non-matriculated study are required to present evidence of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution when applying for admission and must obtain permission from the Graduate Studies Council. Non-degree students may enroll in courses on a space available basis. Permission to take courses as a non-matriculating student does not constitute admission to the degree program.
Q: Will this program meet the requirements for teachers who are required to earn a master's degree?
A: Each school district has independent professional development standards. However, all of the Northeast Ohio school districts contacted during a recent research study indicated that Hiram's MAIS curriculum met the goals and objectives of their individual professional development and certification standards.
Q: Can my employer pay for my MAIS graduate study?
A: Yes. Many employers understand that graduates of the program will have greater analytical, critical thinking and communication skills, and will be ready for additional responsibility and new challenges. A tuition deferment plan is available for students who qualify.
Q: Is financial aid available?
A: All students are eligible to apply for federal financial aid.