Guidelines for the Ph.D.


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 Adviser

Each new student is assigned an interim adviser, 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 adviser to chart a plan of course work, and the student should meet quarterly with the adviser to keep him/her apprised of his/her progress. It is the student's task to take the initiative for these meetings, and the adviser'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 adviser.

2. Filing a Program of Study

Practically, the graduate student should start by carefully planning a program of study that will contribute to achieving the skills mentioned above. 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 program of study to the adviser, which, after approval, will be filed by the Academic Counselor no later than the third quarter of graduate study. The program 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, 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.

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 for the additional research language requirement. 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. 

3. Three Fields and the General Exam

The PhD student should select coursework 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 three 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 faculty adviser 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.

4. 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. Each committee 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.