Guidelines for the Ph.D.

Program specific guidelines are available for Chinese, Japanese Literature, and Japanese Linguistics.


General Aims

The goal of graduate study is to train students to make original contributions to scholarship in a given field and to present them in a coherent form with the appropriate scholarly apparatus. For this purpose, the graduate student needs to build a solid awareness of the publications in the field of specialization, the major questions that are being (and could be) researched, as well as the methodology for answering such questions. In addition, the student should have a solid grasp of the broader academic context in which the field of specialization is situated (i.e. "the big picture").

How to Proceed

The following explains the rationale behind the each of the general requirements for Ph.D. students in the department, and outlines the procedure students should follow to satisfy them.

1. Meeting with the Advisor

Each new student is assigned an interim advisor, that is, a graduate faculty member with whom the student can discuss the course of his/her study in the initial stages. Upon arrival, the student should meet as soon as possible with the assigned interim advisor to chart a plan of course work (download form as PDF) and the student should meet quarterly with the advisor to keep him/her apprised of his/her progress. It is the student's task to take the initiative for these meetings, and the advisor's to file a formal progress report once a year. Once the student has determined the area of specialization and the faculty member he/she would like to work with, he/she should discuss this with the interim advisor and appoint a permanent advisor (download form as PDF).

2. Filing a Program of Study

Practically, the graduate student should start by carefully planning a program of study (download fillable form as PDF) that will contribute to achieving the skills mentioned above. Each of the department's programs has its own required graduate courses. The student should carefully plan when to take which courses, keeping in mind that many courses are not offered every year, and that some courses will not be offered when faculty are on leave. Ideally, students should take at least one course with every faculty member in their program, so as to familiarize themselves with the full range of scholarship and expertise available to them.

The student should submit a feasible proposal of study to the advisor, which, after approval, will be filed by the graduate secretary no later than the third quarter of graduate study. The plan of study should be viewed as a guideline rather than a straightjacket; specifics of the plan are likely to change as the student proceeds, but the general course of study should be clear.

There is a minimum course requirement of 90 credits (45 of which must be taken before pre-candidacy), and the student must take classes and examinations relating to both the linguistic and literature aspects of the language of specialization. Classes in other disciplines might also be advisable (e.g., religion or anthropology), depending on the student's chosen field of specialization.

The student's file will contain a checklist (download form as PDF) of the required courses in his/her program and the student will be responsible for checking off each requirement as the courses are completed. When all courses are taken, the student will present the completed list to the Program Coordinator and ask him/her or his/her designated representative to sign off the box "course work completed" on the checklist. If there are any irregularities (such as course substitutions), an explanation will be placed in the file along with the signature.

Please note that a graduate student is required to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

In addition, during the second and no later than the third quarter after the student has started graduate studies, an appointment should be made with the academic adviser to develop a plan of language study. The plan of language study should clearly state the reasons for selecting a specific language to satisfy this additional language requirement, how it is relevant to the student’s field of study, and the level of proficiency the student should attain in view of those reasons, as well as a time schedule, determining which courses to be taken when, which works to be read when, and how the student will generally endeavor to work towards this proficiency. 

Please also note that fulfillment of the credit requirements does not automatically ensure admission to the Ph.D. Program. All students must be formally admitted to pre-candidacy by the faculty in their Program (download form as PDF).

3.a. Students with an MA from this Department

Students with an MA from this Department cannot automatically assume successful admission into the PhD program. (See "Petitioning to Proceed" below).

3.b. Students with an MA from another University or in another area

Students with an MA from another University or in another area than the one to be pursued will first need to fulfill the following requirements before petitioning to proceed.

1. The student must complete at least 45 credits of relevant graduate credits at the UW.

2. Except when the student has undergone a comparable MA examination in a comparable program, the student needs to pass also the departmental MA General Examination, which is a written test, consisting of two two-hour parts to be taken in the same week. The point is to establish the student's general competence in the field, that is, the aforementioned "big picture". The advisor will suggest which steps should be taken by the student to prepare for the exam. In some cases, a student may be advised to take the Department's General Examination even when he/she has passed a comparable exam elsewhere, in order to strengthen the student's petition to proceed.

4. Petitioning to Proceed

All PhD students must file a Petition to Proceed (download form as PDF). The petition will demonstrate to the program faculty the student's ability to pursue the PhD, i.e. to make a meaningful contribution of original research to the field. This document should highlight the student's accomplishments (MA thesis or papers, exam papers, transcript of graduate courses, other preparation for research, honors) as well as indicate future direction (study and language plan, proposed four fields and dissertation topic and scope). It should also include a time schedule. If the petition is successful, the student becomes a Pre-candidate.

5. From Pre-candidate to Candidate: Four Fields and the General Exam

The Pre-candidate will engage in further course work (minimum 45 credits) as established in the study plan. In addition, he/she will work towards fulfilling a language requirement, as established in the language plan (download form as PDF). The student should select his course work such that he/she acquires a solid foundation in the field and builds expertise in an area of specialization, as well as prepares for the field exams. The four fields represent areas of specialization but also span the broader range of the program area. The purpose is to assure that the student develops into a broadly versatile scholar. In order to maintain this broad range, linguistics students should have at least one field in literature, and literature students at least one field in linguistics. Each field is supervised by a faculty member; one of the fields can be taken outside the department. The nature and scope of the field exams is early on to be agreed on with the main advisor and the individual field advisors, who together constitute the student's supervisory committee. This committee will also oversee the General Examination, which again is intended to demonstrate the student's general knowledge of his/her program area. No later than the quarter prior to the exam date, the student should meet with the advisor to discuss exam preparation. In preparation for this meeting, the student should compile a list of classes taken and readings completed, so as to give the advisor a good idea of what the student already knows and what needs more work. On the basis of this information, an effective strategy for exam preparation can be devised. If successful, the student becomes a Candidate.

6. From PhC to PhD: Writing the Dissertation

Officially, it is only after passing the General Examination that the student will proceed to work on a dissertation, but it is advisable to start thinking about a topic of specialization and discussing it with the advisor early on, and to start working on it as soon as feasible.

The PhD dissertation should make an original contribution to existing research in a given field and present it in a coherent form with the conventional scholarly apparatus. In this department, demonstrating the ability to work with primary sources in the language of specialization is a requirement of the dissertation.

In practical terms this means that the graduate student will go through a study process to familiarize him- or herself with the publications in the field of specialization, the major questions that are being (and could be) researched, and the methodological approaches to answering such questions. The end product of this process, the dissertation itself, demonstrates the mastery of these materials and approaches. The PhD dissertation differs from the MA thesis in that it is broader in scope. It is similar to a book in length and scope, while the MA thesis is comparable to a lengthy scholarly article.

Before beginning to write the dissertation, the Candidate should select an informal reading committee and provide the members with a prospectus of the dissertation (topic, state of the field, student's contribution, resources to be used) and a time schedule. The student is to send yearly progress reports to the members and should meet regularly with the advisor, submitting drafts for comments. It is advisable to consult early on the graduate school guidelines for formatting and to make sure the dissertation is in compliance with these rigid stipulations. Once the dissertation is nearing the stage of completion, the committee (download form as PDF) is formalized (usually the quarter before the final examination). The committee consists of three members, two of whom should be in this department; in addition, the student, with the help of his/her adviser, recruits a GST who will oversee the procedure, and needs to be consulted about the scheduling of the examination. Usually this committee is the same as the supervisory committee. Each member should receive an abstract of the dissertation. The complete draft should be given to the committee six (or eight, if the committee members so require) weeks before the final examination. The Final Examination is an oral defense of the dissertation before the committee and the general public. The final version of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School by the last day of the quarter of graduation.