Experts Outline Opportunities for and Barriers to Joint Degree Programs in Health and Social Sciences

Developing a working group on integrative doctoral programs in health and the social sciences
    • October 9, 2005

From 2002 through mid-2004, the Social Science Research Council worked to promote the integration of the biomedical and social sciences, and the development of a new generation of joint-degree graduate programs.

Key Results

Under the grant, the Social Science Research Council:

  • Convened a 15-member committee, the Working Group on Integrative Doctoral Programs in Health and Social Sciences, composed of researchers, academic administrators and major funding agency representatives.

  • Hosted an invitation-only conference in April–May 2004 focused on strengthening the quality and number of doctoral programs that integrate the social and health sciences.

Key Recommendations

In the conference proceedings, project staff recommended the following:

  • Systematic support strategies for model doctoral programs must first clearly specify the range of objectives such training initiatives are intended to meet.

  • The specific strategies that may promote program and career development most effectively will vary depending on the types of careers and skills trainees seek to master.

  • Future efforts to support model program development may benefit by first evaluating the complementary roles and activities that can be assumed by different funders and host institutions.

  • Efforts should be initiated to improve talent and opportunity matching at multiple points of the career path.

  • Future research on interdisciplinary doctoral programs should include a comparative historical analysis of career outcomes associated with different types of dual and interdisciplinary degree training and specific institutional innovations.