I have a keen interest in some interdisciplinary fields such as neurophilosophy, neuroethics, and neuroaesthethics. In the end, I have chosen to study biology, but I am not entirely sure if it is the best possible choice, and maybe philosophy would have been a better choice.

What advice would you give to people in general who desire to be involved in interdisciplinary research? Do multiple bachelor's or master's degrees? Maybe even different PhD in the fields of interest?


If you're planning on doing advanced study in a truly interdisciplinary field such as the ones that you've listed, I'd recommend to look for what programs exist at the graduate level, and what their "home" departments are. If they're consistently in one department, I would then plan to do a major in the "home" area, and at least a minor in the other discipline (presuming there are only two fields overlapping). If you're planning to stop with master's degrees, you might consider two master's, but only if they were both funded. If you plan to do a PhD, there's probably no need for two separate PhD's—instead, try to look for a program where you can take coursework in both areas and do a project that combines them.

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For a Bachelor's you can double-major and often go further with a dual degree (depending on how much of the required coursework you take in the second area).

The question about what to do with the Master's will be completely overshadowed by whether or not you want to do a PhD. You may not need to do one at all or it may be a stepping-stone within your PhD program.

For the PhD, interdisciplinary research is extremely common. You may find programs and certainly advisers that are specifically focused on your interest. If not you can get co-advisors from different departments. This makes your home department more comfortable that someone outside their expertise is there to evaluate and help you. As doctorates are research degrees, not specific skill training like a Master's, you can go pretty far and wide with you thesis topic. But it does need to bring significant novelty as far as your home department is concerned. Just applying methods and ideas from field A to new area B (perhaps no one has done this before) would potentially make a fine thesis in department B, but less so in A.

Note also that multiple doctorates are often not allowed without special permission. Being a "Renaissance person" goes over well as an undergrad, but risks looking unfocused later. Hence it's probably much better to do one interdisciplinary program, versus combine multiple degrees and have to explain how they are complementary, and you aren't just a degree collector or professional student.

Personally, I'd pick the department with the best career prospects to fall back on.

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