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Open Graduate Education: Information for Prospective Applicants

Application Deadline: Second Friday in February

Doctoral students are invited to contemplate and propose their own combination of studies, free of disciplinary barrier. Importantly, students who wish to participate are asked to design a curriculum of their choice. Admission to this program is by application only, using forms provided separately. The following guidelines apply:

  • Students need to be in good standing in the doctoral program and be making good progress. Students need to have a supportive doctoral program and research advisor (if they have one).
  • A student’s application needs to be supported by the proposed master’s program. This may be equivalent to being admitted to the master’s program. For some programs, it is a requisite that the student has undergraduate credentials that support an expectation of success in the secondary field.
  • Given that there are different ways in which master’s and doctoral studies could be successfully combined, we ask that students propose an anticipated path to the concurrent degrees. One path might be to take a continuous, light course load in the secondary field while pursuing the doctoral education, such that after six years of combined study (starting with the time of entry to the PhD program), both degrees are completed. Another option could be to complete the master’s degree early so as to feed the knowledge gained into the dissertation research. Or alternatively, a student could save the master’s coursework until after PhD coursework and other pre-dissertation work is completed. It is up to the graduate student to propose a viable path.
  • Students must have completed at least one year of their doctoral studies at Brown before the secondary field can be started. (The application for the Open Graduate Program can be submitted during the first year of graduate study.) Preference will be given to students who apply early in their graduate studies.
  • The Graduate School recognizes that pursuit of a secondary field requires additional time. For this reason, additional financial and mentoring support will be available to the students selected for this program, as outlined below.

The Graduate School encourages students to think broadly and creatively about their doctoral education and is looking forward to applications.

Further details about the Program

Financial Support
Students should realize that study of a secondary field requires significant effort and dedication. The application should include a realistic plan for dealing with the competing demands on time and for completing both degrees successfully. It is also important to plan with the six-year time limit in mind. Graduate students must remain in good standing in both fields of study throughout these six years.

  • Beginning with the cohort selected in 2015, participants may select one of two support models:  either one academic year fellowship with funded summers (3 months per summer); or two academic years of fellowships with no incremental summer funding from the Graduate School. Applicants are asked to indicate their preference on the application, as well as the year(s) in which they are taking fellowship(s).
  • Under this updated model, doctoral students in the Humanities and Social Sciences will prepare a Dissertation Completion Proposal in the fifth year for sixth-year support. The doctoral program and Graduate School split that support, with one semester of fellowship provided by the program and a teaching assistantship provided by Graduate School.
  • During the academic year(s) in which a student is on a fellowship, the student will be fully supported through the Graduate School. This includes health insurance, health fee and tuition. 
  • The support for cohorts one through three includes support for the summer months prorated at the academic year stipend. (Three summers, for example after the third, fourth and fifth years, add up to one extra academic year of study).  In addition, students in good standing receive an extension of the regular five-year support guarantee to a sixth year of study. Stipend support from the Graduate School during the sixth year will be in form of a teaching assistantship. While not a requirement of the program, students at that stage can propose to their doctoral program and the Graduate School to teach a course that combines the two fields of expertise.

The enhanced support structures are designed to enable students to finish both degrees within the six-year time frame. No further stipend support will be made available after the sixth year.

The Graduate School will work with students in the dual degree program to make sure that no unforeseen complications arise. To this end, a dean will be available to advise students. Additionally, all Deans of the Graduate School will be available during office hours. To create a sense of community, the Graduate School will host special social events for students in the program. After graduation, the Graduate School will be interested in career paths and the possible effects that the additional opportunities at Brown will have.

For programs that require a master’s thesis, an overlap of content with the Ph.D. thesis may be possible. However, the following rule shall be noted:

  • Scholarly output from either the master's or the PhD program should be treated according to established norms. That is, any subsequent use of scholarly output that has been previously published or submitted for course credit must be cited fully and properly. For example, papers or theses used for credit in the master's program could potentially appear in the PhD dissertation if properly cited.

Some additional details:

  • The master’s program is encouraged to review the credentials of a prospective dual degree student before writing the letter of support. To this end, the Graduate School will furnish upon request the materials that were submitted at the time of application to the Ph.D. program.
  • Students participating in the OGE degree program are expected to fulfill all the duties associated with their normal course of study in the doctoral program. This includes, in particular, the minimum contributions to teaching and research through TA and RA positions.
  • Master’s programs in Integrative Studies (see Graduate School Handbook, page 12) are possible, but require additional approval by the Graduate Council. Please contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to arrange this.
  • No more than two courses can be counted for both the Ph.D. and the master’s degree.
  • It will not be possible to take undergraduate courses below the 1000 level with the goal of attaining prerequisites required for the master’s program.