Skip to main content

Interdisciplinary Programs


This is a transdisciplinary graduate specialization in Anthropogeny with the aim of providing graduate students the opportunity to specialize in research and education on explaining the origins of the human phenomenon. The aim is to rectify the absence of existing training programs that provide such a broad and explicitly transdisciplinary approach – spanning the social and natural sciences– and focusing on one of the oldest questions known to humankind, namely, the origins of humans and humanity. This specialization is not a stand-alone program, but aims to provide graduate students who have just embarked on their graduate careers with the opportunity to interact and communicate with peers in radically different disciplines throughout the duration of their PhD projects. Such communication across disciplines from the outset is key to fostering a capacity for interdisciplinary “language” skills and conceptual flexibility.

Admission to the Specialization

The Psychology graduate program will advertise the specialization to those students in our program who have an interest in human origins. Qualifying applicants will have the opportunity to enroll for the Specialization. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator in Psychology for more details. Find out more information about the Anthropogeny specialization.

Specialization Requirements

Students pursuing this Specialization will be required to take a series of courses in addition to research rounds over 4 years of study. It is advised that students begin their coursework in their second year.

  1. Coursework: Introduction to Anthropogeny (BIOM 225) and Advanced Anthropogeny (BIOM 229) are each taken once, in the Winter and Spring of the student's 2nd year. Current Topics in Anthropogeny (BIOM 218) is to be taken every quarter for 4 years.
  2. Research Rounds: Monthly seminars during which all participating students talk about their respective research.

Qualifying Examination

Psychology students in the Anthropogeny Specialization must meet the departmental requirement for advancement to candidacy, including the qualifying paper/exam and dissertation proposal. In addition, students must meet internal deadlines, mentoring provisions, and proposal standards of the Anthropogeny Specialization track.


Ph.D. students must complete a dissertation, which meets all requirements of the home program. In addition, it is expected that the Ph.D. dissertation is broadly related to human origins and will be interdisciplinary in nature.

Time Limits

It is expected that students will retain the same time to degree as students not pursuing this Specialization. Additional course load consists only of two regular courses (two quarters 20 lectures each). The third proposed course takes place only three times a year from Friday noon to Saturday evening.

Critical Gender Studies

UCSD’s Critical Gender Studies program began as Women’s Studies in the 1970s, alongside both an active non-academic women’s rights movement and the nascent institutionalization of women’s studies as an academic presence. The program was initiated with participation from students and faculty across the humanities and social sciences, including many of the same departments that continue to be involved. From the beginning, it understood itself as an interdisciplinary countercurrent, drawing from these disciplines and simultaneously offering a critique of accepted ideas and beliefs within them.

In the late 90s, the program’s faculty introduced curricular revisions and the name change to Critical Gender Studies. With this, UCSD became one of the first institutions formally to acknowledge and to embrace the importance of sexuality and racial formation for the interdisciplinary study of gender. Always forward-thinking and rigorously interdisciplinary, the program has proven immensely useful and enriching for the undergraduate students who have partaken in it for the last several decades. Given the rich history and roots of this program, we are pleased to announce that such benefits now extend to graduate students through the CGS graduate specialization.

UCSD has long been a vibrant site for the study of gender and sexuality, with many graduate students and faculty already engaged in gender-related projects. These students and faculty have collaboratively organized toward recognition of this focus in their research. The specialization has been put in place to respond to such demands, providing a central program through which graduate students may develop their work among peers who take up similar questions. The program encourages applications from all graduate students (who have been admitted to the participating departments) whose work takes up questions of gender. Through the contributions of CGS faculty who specialize in women of color feminism(s) and queer of color critique, the program helps to develop and foster an understanding of gender as necessarily linked to race, sexuality and other social formations.

Admission to the Specialization

Admission to the Graduate Specialization in Critical Gender Studies will be managed by the Critical Gender Studies program. Click here to find out more information about the Anthropogeny specialization.

Specialization Requirements

Admitted students are required to complete five courses (two core courses taught within CGS and three electives) in addition to their home department’s core requirements, and to include at least one member of their dissertation committee from the list of CGS affiliate faculty.

The core courses are CGS 200 (Advanced Studies in CGS), to be taken shortly after acceptance into the specialization, and CGS 299 (Practicum in CGS), to be taken in the student’s final year of dissertation writing.

In addition to the two CGS seminars, three electives (4 units each) may be selected from a list of pre-approved seminars in participating departments: Anthropology, Communication, Ethnic Studies, History, Literature, Psychology, Sociology, and Theatre & Dance.

Qualifying Examination

Psychology students in the Critical Gender Studies Specialization must meet the departmental requirement for advancement to candidacy, including the qualifying paper/exam and dissertation proposal. In addition, students must meet the requirements of the Critical Gender Studies Specialization track.


Ph.D. students must complete a dissertation, which meets all requirements of the home program. In addition, the commitee is expected to include at least one member from the list of CGS affiliate faculty.

Time Limits

It is expected that students will retain the same time to degree as students not pursuing this Specialization. 

Cognitive Science

There are four aspects to graduate study in the Cognitive Science Interdisciplinary Program (IDP): (a) a primary specialization in one of the established disciplines of cognitive science; (b) a secondary specialization in a second field of study; (c) familiarity with general issues in the field and the various approaches taken to these issues by scholars in different disciplines; and (d) an original dissertation project of an interdisciplinary character. The degree itself reflects the interdisciplinary nature, being awarded jointly to the student for studies in the home department and cognitive science. Thus, a student in psychology will have a degree that reads "Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science".

Primary Specialization

Primary specialization is accomplished through the home department. Students are expected to maintain good standing within their home departments through qualification for candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Secondary Specialization

The power of an interdisciplinary graduate training program lies in large measure in its ability to provide the student with the tools of inquiry in more than one discipline. Students in the Cognitive Science Interdisciplinary Program are expected to gain significant expertise in areas of study outside of those covered by their home department. Such expertise can be defined in several ways. The second area might coincide with that of an established discipline, and study within that discipline would be appropriate. Alternatively, the area could be based upon a substantive issue of cognitive science that spans several of the existing disciplines, and study within several departments would be involved. In either case, students work with their advisor and the Instructional Advisory Committee to develop an individual study plan designed to give them this secondary specialization. This requirement takes about a year’s worth of study, and can be fulfilled by taking regular courses, or by spending a significant amount of time performing an individual research project sponsored by a faculty member in a department other than the student’s home department.

Familiarity with General Issues in Cognitive Science

This part of the requirements is fulfilled by enrolling in six quarters of the Cognitive Science 200 seminar, a seminar series that covers different issues of Program faculty interests, depending on the faculty member leading it each quarter. Previous Cognitive Science 200's have covered issues as diverse as Face processing, the History of Cognitive Science, Hemispheric Specialization, and Time and Cognition.


It is expected that the dissertation will draw on both the primary and secondary areas of expertise, combining methodologies and viewpoints from two or more perspectives, and that the dissertation will make a substantive contribution to the field of cognitive science.

Time Limits

Grads enrolled in the Cog Sci Interdisciplinary Program receive a 2 quarter extension to departmental deadlines; please note that support time limit and total registered time limits are assessed at the shorter of the two discipiines. This results in limits of 7 years, instead of 8 as in Psychology.


The program can be summarized in this way: In the first years, basic training within the student's major discipline provided by the individual departments; In the middle years acquisition of secondary specialization and participation in the Cognitive Science Seminar; In the final years, dissertation research on a topic in cognitive science supervised by faculty from the Interdisciplinary Program. Questions regarding this program should be directed to the Graduate Coordinator in Cog Sci.

Computational Social Science

Computational Social Science (CSS) integrates large-scale data analysis with formal, causal models from social science domains, to not only improve predictions, but also guide extrapolation and intervention beyond existing data. Students pursuing the specialization will find a clear path to accessing training in computational social science, a formal mechanism for recognizing their efforts, and access to a broad network of relevant scholars.


The graduate specialization in computational social science is only available to students currently enrolled in a PhD program at UC San Diego in the following School of Social Sciences departments: anthropology, communication, cognitive science, economics, education studies, ethnic studies, linguistics, political science, psychology, and sociology. Doctoral students in these departments may apply for the specialization through the CSS administration, housed in the Department of Psychology, with the endorsement of the student’s primary research adviser and department chair. Students are eligible to join the CSS specialization at any time pre-candidacy; post-candidacy requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may require additional justification relating to time to degree.


In addition to the PhD requirements of their home department, admitted students are required to complete the following requirements:

  • Three quarters of CSS 209. Computational Social Science Research Seminar.
  • Three courses from a list of electives, at least one of which must not count toward the home department PhD requirements, with at least one of these electives drawn from the subset of “advanced data” courses.
  • Appointment to the dissertation committee of at least one CSS affiliated faculty member not affiliated with the student’s home department.
  • Satisfactory completion of a dissertation including a technical and/or computational social science component.