Ph.D. in Transformative Studies (Online Program)
California Institute of Integral Studies
4 - 6 years
Earliest start date
The Transformative Studies Ph.D. is a pioneering transdisciplinary degree program whose mission is to develop scholars committed to doing research in innovative ways that combine scholarship, creativity, and self-inquiry. Today’s interconnected and fast changing world needs more than disciplinary specialization. It also needs transdisciplinary scholars who know how to integrate a wealth of research generated in multiple disciplines to do justice to the complexity of the many problems and potentials of our age. We offered one of the first online doctoral degrees, starting in 1993, and we are also one of the world’s first transdisciplinary doctoral programs.
Transdisciplinary research is grounded in systems and complexity thinking. It emphasizes the importance of context, interconnection, and self-reflection. It sees every inquiry as an opportunity for self-inquiry and frames the research journey as a creative process. Successful completion of the program requires a high degree of self-direction, motivation, and a passion for scholarship that is both rigorous and imaginative. The program is designed to provide a rich and diverse learning community and interactive learning experiences. Students are guided in finding a research topic that inspires them and can be supported by faculty. The faculty guides students in developing dissertation topics that match the current interest areas and expertise in the department. Students should familiarize themselves with the faculty’s interest areas to ensure that their research topic can be supported. Current faculty interest areas include, but are not limited to, creative futures, extraordinary abilities and beliefs, ecopsychology, sustainability, comparative religions, systems theory and complex thought, new religious movements, leadership, social change, and creativity.
The Transformative Studies Ph.D. consists of a minimum of 36.4 semester units (two years of full-time coursework and participation in four intensives) plus a dissertation. The program includes 18 units of foundational courses and 12 units of electives, which may be taken from elective courses offered at the University.
Throughout the two years of online coursework, all students meet for virtual intensives twice per year, at the beginning of fall and spring semesters. Participation in all intensives is mandatory.
Coursework concludes with two comprehensive exams in essay form. One is the literature review for the student’s dissertation topic, the other addresses the chosen research methodology for the student's dissertation.