Course of Study

Course of Study for the Ph.D.

  1. On entering the Ph.D. program students work closely with the faculty members in their academic subfield (especially the convener) and the Director of Graduate Studies. Along with the matriculation committee, they assist students in the formulation of the first year of their programs and with the choice of courses.
  2. By the middle of the second year the doctoral student participates in the selection of a principal advisor, who will become the chair of their preliminary examination committee. Together they select a committee that comprehends the student’s range of interests and prospective program. The preliminary examination committee typically becomes the final dissertation examination committee. (Changes in either committee may be made, however, with the approval of all the committee, the Committee on Doctoral Committees, and the Dean of the Graduate School.)
  3. Prior to taking preliminary exams, students must pass foreign language competency exams. Entering students must complete at least one language requirement by the beginning of the second year of study or their funding will be revoked until the language is passed. See modern languages exam procedures.
  4. The faculty committee, in consultation with the student, sets the preliminary examinations guidelines, which are intended to test command of the subject areas as well as the student’s readiness to undertake the research and writing of a dissertation. There are four written exams—generally a four-hour exam in the student’s major, a three-hour exam in a broadly conceived dissertation area, and three-hour exams in each of the student’s two minors—followed by an oral exam.
  5. Within six months of completing the preliminary exams, students submit a dissertation proposal to be approved by their committee. The proposal must be approved by the CDC after it has been approved by the dissertation committee. You may use this form to submit your proposal.
  6. The dissertation must be completed in eight semesters after prelims. (Extensions are granted in unusual circumstances.) Before, or at the start of, the semester in which the student intends to defend the completed dissertation, he or she must file an "Apply to Graduate" with the Graduate School. This form, giving the exact title of the dissertation, must be approved by the DGS and the chair of the dissertation committee. Note that it must be submitted one month before the dissertation is to be defended, and no later than January 25 preceding the May commencement, August 1 for a September degree, and December 1 for a December degree. Students who plan to finish in a specific semester must be sure to file this form. If a student is unable to finish, he or she simply completes the same form again the subsequent semester.  Beginning in the spring semester 2009, all dissertations must be submitted electronically.

The defense of the dissertation involves an oral exam after the written thesis has been accepted. Students must submit a copy of the dissertation in the approved format to the committee AT LEAST three weeks in advance of the defense.