Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

MAIS collage

The Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) program in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences encourages students' freedom and creativity while maintaining the University's commitment to excellence. Founded in 1982, Interdisciplinary Studies recognizes the demand for high quality, non-traditional graduate programs that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Our program is unique among Mason graduate programs because it offers faculty a way to pilot new Master's degrees as concentrations, thereby staying on the cutting edge of higher education. For example, the M.A.s in Anthropology, Communication, and Higher Education were once MAIS concentrations. As a result, the Interdisciplinary Studies program continues to evolve.

Growth and change are constants in Interdisciplinary Studies, but our embrace of excellence, freedom, and creativity is timeless. 

Multiple Degree Pathways

Interdisciplinary Studies consists of multiple established degree paths (concentrations) that exist in partnership with academic units and faculty across the University. 

All of our concentrations are open to applicants from a range of backgrounds. Applicants often cross over from the humanities to the social or natural sciences, and vice versa.

A Shared Commitment

Interdisciplinary Studies offers a home for students with broad academic interests who seek a master's degree that will help them to create a better world. While their degree paths may vary dramatically, our students share a desire to address critical problems facing the world today.

Some of the topics students have explored include: environmental degradation, climate change, human trafficking, social injustice, income inequality, trauma and psycho-social healing, gender-based violence, religious intolerance, international conflict, and others. 

Freedom to Explore

Our programs are multidisciplinary in nature, allowing students considerable freedom to tailor their degrees to their unique interests and professional goals, with many encouraging experiential learning opportunities in a professional setting of the student's own choosing.

Experiential Learning

Many Interdisciplinary Studies concentrations require or encourage credit through experiential learning. Experiential learning enables students to extend and apply their classroom learning by turning theory into practice.

The Capstone Experience

The MAIS degree culminates in a Capstone Experience that unfolds over 2-3 semesters. Students synthesize their course work into an original research proposal. They then decide to produce a project or a thesis, enabling them to stretch and grow through 1-2 semesters of unstructured research, writing, and discovery under the direction of their capstone faculty committee. 

Innovation is not just a core component of the Interdisciplinary Studies student experience; it is also built into the design of the program itself.