Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about the ITDS program.
1. When should I talk to the ITDS coordinator about possibly pursuing an ITDS degree?
You should contact the coordinator and either arrange an office appointment or a phone appointment before applying to the University. This will help you determine the feasibility of doing the program you have in mind at Sonoma State within the ITDS programs guidelines.
2. How should I prepare for that first meeting with the ITDS coordinator, is there anything I should bring with me?
It would be very beneficial to prepare a Preliminary ITDS Plan by writing a statement of a paragraph or two describing what you would like your degree to be and a list of SSU courses that you would like to apply to that program. In identifying the list of courses try to describe what competencies or learning objectives each course would provide your program. Also, be prepared to discuss how this degree fits into your career goals.
Often students find it beneficial to explore whether something similar to what they are interested in is offered at another university and use that as a guideline to what such a course of study should encompass.
3. How might the current California/CSU economic crisis impact the pursuit of an ITDS degree?
While individuals often seek to pursue educational goals during challenging economic times, this crisis has had a devastating impact on the California State University system and Sonoma State. Many classes have been cut from the schedule and many departments have limited their offerings to students in their major or in their Masters program. An increase in faculty workloads has made it more difficult for faculty to take on working with ITDS students. Despite these challenges the University and SSU faculty remain committed to the ITDS program and ITDS students.
4. How many units are in the degree?
Special Major . The Special Major (BA/BS) consists of a minimum of 45 units of course work. The courses for the major are divided into Core Courses and Supporting Courses. All of the 24-26 units in the Core Courses are to be Upper Division units (300 and above). The number of Upper Division units in the Supporting Courses must be sufficient to fulfill the goals of your proposal.
Masters . The Masters degree is 30 -32 units. Fifteen of those 30 units must be graduate (500) level. Upper division courses in the 300 and 400 levels can be included in the student's program. Masters students are required to complete 6 units of culminating project/thesis units (ITDS 599A&B), these units count towards the 15 required 500 level units.
5. How many professors need to be on my Academic Advisory committee?
Special Major. Two, a faculty advisor from each of two departments in your program need to serve as your Academic Advisory Committee.
Masters . You must find three faculty members from at least two of the disciplines found on your course list who will agree to form an Academic Advisory Committee for your program of study.
6. How much depth and breadth should be incorporated into the degree?
In terms of breadth, the program must span it least two disciplines. Most programs span 2-3. Whether it is ITDS or an existing undergraduate or graduate degree, academic programs must have depth as well as breadth. This means in addition to topical content the program incorporates the major theoretical frameworks and research methodologies of the discipline or disciplines involved. Incorporating more than 2-3 disciplines would probably impact the depth of a program.
7. When do I submit my ITDS Program Proposal?
Usually students submit their ITDS program proposal in their second semester of taking classes. It must be submitted before you have accumulated half the units the make up your program.
8. If I don't submit my proposal until the second semester, how do I know what classes to take?
This is a tricky one. There is no guarantee a class will count toward your ITDS degree until after the ITDS committee reviews and approves your program proposal. In the meantime you need to start taking classes, become more familiar with your subject area, and meet faculty who may work with you as a member of your program committee. My recommendation is that you start taking classes that are at the heart of what you want to study.
9. Can I take classes in any department at Sonoma State?
No, not all departments are open to students outside their major or Masters program. In particular several of the Special Sessions graduate programs are only open to students admitted into those programs (e.g. Depth Psychology, Organizational Development). The Business MBA program has also limited access to their classes during the current budget crisis.
10. How many Independent Study units can I include in my ITDS program?
Independent Study is built into the program through a culminating project that the student completes with the direction of their committee. Beyond that the ITDS program limits the number of independent (495/595) units. The ITDS program is designed to take advantage of the classes we teach at Sonoma State. Sonoma State is a small campus so we may not have the resources for you to pursue the area of study you are interested in.
11. When should I apply to the ITDS program?
You should apply to the ITDS program when you apply to the University (you can also change your major/graduate status if you are already in another program). ITDS accepts applicants in both the Fall and Spring semesters. The University may close application deadlines after a short window, so apply as soon as you can. The University applies a first come first serve policy in processing applications and financial aid.
12. How do I pick my ITDS program committee?
The best way to pick your program committee is through taking classes, getting to know faculty, and talking to them about your interests. Eventually based on the areas you are interested in incorporating into your ITDS program you can ask faculty based on their expertise in those areas. You can have a non-SSU faculty member on your committee. The chair of your committee must be a tenure track professor. Not sure if your teacher is tenure track? Look at their business card if it says, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor, they are tenure track.
13. Can I take classes at other Universities?
Yes. At the undergraduate level you can transfer in most units from another University. At the MA/MS level you can transfer in up to 9 units. We also have a concurrent agreement with the University of California at Berkeley that treat a class taken there as though you have taken it at SSU. See the SSU catalog pages on concurrent enrollment.
14. Can I get a Master in Gerontology?
In the past, several students have put together Masters program with Gerontology as their emphasis. The professor who headed up this program has now retired and the University has not hired another Developmental Psychology specialist. While students will not be able to pursue a Masters in Gerontology right now, they can pursue the Gerontology Certificate. For more information about Gerontology at SSU see their webpage.
15. I would like to teach at the Community College level, can I do that with a Masters in ITDS?
Probably not. Most teaching jobs at the Community College level require a discipline specific Masters degree. Meaning if you want to teach Math you will need a Masters in Math or Math Education.
16. Does ITDS have a Distance Learning option?
No. The ITDS program is designed to take advantage of the classes we teach at Sonoma State. Sometimes people misread the name of the program as Independent Studies rather than Interdisciplinary Studies.
17. I am planning on graduating next semester can I switch to ITDS?
That might not be possible. Have you sent out the invitations? When students submit their ITDS program proposal for review they are required to have at least half of their program units still to do.
18. I don't have a 3.0 GPA but would like to do the ITDS program, is that possible?
You may want to take some classes and do some grade rehabilitation. You should try to demonstrate to the ITDS review committee that you are serious about your new academic program by taking one or two classes and getting A's. Try to have a 3.0 by the time you submit your proposal.
19. When can I make an appointment with the ITDS coordinator?
The ITDS office is open during Fall and Spring semesters and closed during the summer and winter breaks. Currently appointments are scheduled for Mondays between 2-5PM. Scheduling of all appointments is through e-mail.
20. How many faculty/staff work in the ITDS office?
One part-time person, the ITDS coordinator. The ITDS coordinator receives 3 units (of a 15 unit workload) to run the ITDS program.
21. I want to get a teaching credential and teach, do I have to major in something?
Even if you know that you want to teach you do need to major in something. The idea of a major is to develop some depth in a particular field or discipline. In ITDS you may combine two or more disciplines to study a particular area in greater depth.
22. Who is on the ITDS committee?
Sonoma State is organized by academic schools. The ITDS committee is made up of a representative from the School of Education, School of Social Sciences, School of Science and Technology, School of Business and Economics, and School of Arts and Humanities.
23. In developing my program how do I know what to call it?
The name of your program/degree should reflect the disciplines you are combining and their relationship to one another. The committee rarely approves degree titles with "and" in it, because that often implies the work of two degrees rather than one. A not so clever example of that would be "Math and English". But something like Mathmatical English might work. The other consideration with the title is that it aligns with the narrative of the proposal and the courses proposed.
24. What guidelines are there for the Culminating Project/Thesis?
Your Academic Advisory committee will guide you on the appropriate scope, form of your culminating project. They will draw upon the theoretical frameworks and methodologies of your disciplines and the nature culminating projects in their areas. The Graduate Studies office provides guidelines to thesis review.
25. I have studied abroad and taken classes in a foreign language, can I get a major or minor in that language?
This question often brings up a couple of issues. First, to meet the ITDS requirements you must combine two or more disciplines, so a major or minor in the foreign language would not suffice. Second, in order to apply to the ITDS program at least half of the program/units must be still be ahead of you, so it may be difficult to do a major or minor at this point in your college career.
26. Once my proposal is approved can I substitute course or committee members?
Yes. Request the substitution in writing to the ITDS coordinator. If the course substistution fits with the spirit of the proposal it is usually approved. Committee changes should also be done in writing. If the student's program changes substantially it is necessary to submit a new proposal to the ITDS committee.
27. I'm finishing up my thesis, what do I need to do to officially graduate?
You need to defend your thesis and fill out the Completion of Requirements form (GSO2). You also need to apply to graduate through Admissions and Records. Be sure to check with the Graduate Studies office for Graduate Forms and deadlines related to when and how to submit your thesis.
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