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What is the main purpose of getting a Ph.D. from an interdisciplinary doctoral school?

If someone completes a Ph.D. from an interdisciplinary doctoral school, can he work as a professor in CS/CSE?

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  • What would the degree be in? Some faculty positions require a PhD in a relevant field. – lighthouse keeper Jun 17 at 5:39
  • @lighthousekeeper, What would the degree be in? --- In Bioinformatics-related topic. – user366312 Jun 17 at 10:29
  • That's a topic and not a field. So, the thesis itself does not specify a field ("PhD in bioinformatics")? – lighthouse keeper Jun 17 at 10:51
  • @lighthousekeeper, Ph.D. in Bioinformatics, yes. Combinedly under the Faculty of CS and the Faculty of Chemistry. – user366312 Jun 17 at 10:53
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    From my experience in hiring in CS in Europe: Once you satisfy the formal requirements (which you seem to do), hiring committees create their shortlist mostly based on the strength of your CV and your suitability for the concrete position. So the question here is if there are enough positions where your expertise is a good-enough fit, and possibly if they count your relevant publications in Non-CS-fields. If so, then there's no problem. – lighthouse keeper Jun 17 at 11:26
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Yes, it is possible (in the US, at least). You need to get hired, so you need to meet the needs of a faculty position, both in teaching and research, but having an interdisciplinary degree doesn't rule that out.

Some places will be more receptive to the idea than others. Some universities value cross discipline collaboration and have, say, undergraduate programs that value cross discipline study. Applications of CS to other fields is fairly popular, though not universal.

Some large faculties have a few members who have quite diverse interests.

But, a person would likely have fewer opportunities with any degree that isn't, somehow, mainstream.

And, you also need to be able to earn tenure if you want a career. And once you do, you have the opportunity to expand diverse interests in the institution.

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The interesting part about Computer Science as a field is that it has many applications to other fields. From my experience, I have seen people with doctorates in many fields become CS faculty, and vice-versa. At my undergraduate CS department, there are quite a few faculty who changed fields this way:

  • They did their undergraduate in a different (but usually related) field such as mathematics, statistics, or linguistics (for NLP/AI) before switching to CS for their MS and/or PhD (most common)
  • OR they did their entire education in a different (but also usually related) field, then joined a different department at their next university (not as common, but it still happens; heard of one professor in the Applied Mathematics dept at my university who did his PhD in CS, then initially was an Assistant prof at another university in CS, joined the Applied Mathematics department at my university)

Getting an interdisciplinary degree can definitely open doors in this regard, but of course this will obviously depend on your specific research interests. If you're thinking of switching fields, you'll obviously want your interdisciplinary interests to kind of be related to what you are currently studying, as well as what you plan on doing in the future.

Keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily just apply to Computer Science, or necessarily even academia. My multivariable calculus professor was able to go into computational science (slightly related to CS, but not exactly the same as CS) after finishing a Chemistry PhD (they had also studied mathematics during their undergraduate). In industry, while the instinct of most undergraduates is to get a job at Google with their BS in CS, there are also people at such companies with PhD's in Chemistry, Physics, or other fields that also get jobs at such companies.

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