Characteristics of Doctoral Programs at UT


Graduate Portfolio Programs are opportunities for students to obtain credentials in a cross-disciplinary academic area of inquiry while they are completing the requirements for a master's or doctoral degree in a particular discipline.  The concept of a portfolio program was developed to enrich the research experience, increase the breadth of training, and expand the scholarly credentials of graduate students.

Portfolio programs are not degree programs.  To be eligible to participate in a portfolio program, students must be admitted to one of the university's graduate degree programs.  At the time of graduation, the student's transcript will reflect both receipt of the master's or doctoral degree and certification that the student has completed the graduate portfolio in the designated area of study.

Objectives of Graduate Portfolio Programs:

  • To promote cross-disciplinary scholarship and study by bringing together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines whose interests transcend the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines

    The term "cross-disciplinary study" is used to designate specific issues and topics that involve the expertise and perspectives of multiple disciplines. Cross-disciplinary study is distinguished from interdisciplinary degree programs with official university status. In addition to differences in administrative structure, cross-disciplinary study is typically more intellectually fluid and topic-centered than interdisciplinary programs.
  • To encourage dialog between disparate academic disciplines and create new communities of scholars within the university who recognize the intellectual value of integrating multiple and diverse perspectives on a particular scholarly issue or topic
  • To provide an opportunity for students in highly theoretical disciplines to obtain applied knowledge from allied fields of study and vice-versa
  • To expand the research and scholarly credentials of students, thereby increasing their marketability with prospective employers
  • To experiment intellectually with lines of research and modes of inquiry that over time could form the basis for new interdisciplinary degree programs

Requirements of Graduate Portfolio Programs:

  • Graduate portfolio programs usually consist of four thematically related graduate courses from a variety of pre-determined disciplines/graduate programs.
  • Each student's portfolio must include courses from at least two departments outside the student's home department.
  • Completion of the portfolio normally includes an independent paper/project related to the student's work in a given area or a scholarly essay that is presented at a research colloquium attended by faculty and students from the academic disciplines included in the cross-disciplinary area of inquiry.

Additional information:

  • Unlike "supporting coursework" or a "minor," which typically refer to a department or discipline outside of a student's major, graduate portfolio programs designate a topic, issue, skill, or application that usually involves multiple disciplines.
  • Although certification for completion of the portfolio is independent of the requirements for the student's degree program, courses included in the major or supporting areas of work for the degree may be counted toward completion of the portfolio.
  • Coursework eligible for inclusion in the portfolio program is selected by a committee of faculty representing a specific cross-disciplinary area of expertise.
  • The application process for the portfolio program is determined by the faculty committee administering the program.
  • Faculty advisers assist students both in designing a personalized portfolio related to the student's interests and in defining projects or papers that add cohesiveness to the portfolio course requirements.
  • Upon completion of both the degree and the portfolio requirements, the portfolio certification will be added to the student's transcript.
  • Because portfolio programs do not incur expenses normally associated with the development and implementation of new graduate degree programs, the cost to encourage cross-disciplinary inquiry should be modest.


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