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. We recommend completion of the Sheridan Center (Level One) teaching certification during this year. 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 student 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.
All students will receive a mid-year (after the fall semester) evaluation from the DGS.

Second Year of Graduate Study

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 peer-reviewed 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. 

Third Year of Graduate Study

In the third year students take additional coursework, prepare and complete preliminary exams, continue the work of publishing the master’s thesis, and begin to develop dissertation topics. Completion of these preliminary examinations should be before the beginning of the fourth year of graduate study. 

Subsequent Years

The preparation and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation proposal should occur following the successful completion of the preliminary examinations, 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 his/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.