Year-by-Year Summary of the PhD

The Ph.D., Year by Year

First Year of Graduate Study

In the first year, graduate students normally take eight courses, six of which are the required courses described above, and two of which are other substantive courses based on the student’s areas of interest. It is recommended that the Sheridan Center (Level One) teaching certification be completed. During the summer after the first year of study, students build on their coursework and pursue a research project.  The project normally forms the basis of the MA thesis. The DGS and/or the preliminary faculty advisor assigned upon entering the program will serve as the advisor for each entering students until the student notifies the student affairs coordinator of his or her chosen advisor.  At this time students should also begin to identify areas of specialization and eventual preliminary exam areas.

The Second Year

In the second year students take additional seminars in theory and advanced methodology courses, along with courses in areas of substantive specialization. Students should enter the second year with an appropriate advisor to supervise the MA thesis and guide subsequent steps. Students write their MA thesis in the second year and submit the thesis to the committee during the fourth semester of graduate study. After successful completion of the MA thesis, students are strongly encouraged to quickly submit the thesis to a journal for review for publication. During the second year students continue refining their planned areas of specialization for the preliminary exam, taking courses in the areas of their intended exams. Students should complete the Sheridan Center (Level One) teaching certification by the end of their second year.

The Third Year

In the third year students take additional seminars in theory and advanced methodology courses, along with courses in areas of substantive specialization. Students focus critically on their preliminary exams through independent study and enrolling in the above described advanced seminars. Completion of these preliminary examinations should be before the beginning of the fourth year of graduate study. The teaching assistant requirement (one full year) must be met by the third year.

Subsequent Years

The preparation and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation proposal should occur following the successful completion of the preliminary examination, normally during the fourth year. The fourth year is normally devoted to proposal preparation and defense, the collection of research materials for the dissertation, and the drafting of analytic chapters. In addition, the student should focus on the publication of research papers alone or in collaboration with her advisor during this year. The fifth year is devoted to completing and defending the Ph.D. dissertation and preparing papers for presentation at professional meetings and publication. Preparation for applying for teaching and research positions, the job interview process, and related issues typically occur in the final year.