The Department of Literature Ph.D. Studies Program is interdisciplinary in focus, although students may write dissertations on any topic or in any field in which members of the faculty do research. The Program allows students a large measure of independence; at the same time it encourages a community of scholar-critics whose concerns are not restricted to any single literature or critical tradition.
The Literature Ph.D. Program has three distinct phases with three distinct purposes.
In Phase I students acquire the breadth of knowledge foundational to Ph.D.-level work. In this phase, students come to know the faculty, their research areas and methods. During these first two years of study (or, this first year, in the case of students with M.A. degrees who ask for transfer of graduate credits) students take twelve (or six) seminars. In the course of these seminars, they complete the required theory sequence in the first year, and the language requirements. Toward the end of the second year, they begin to identify their own specialized interests preparatory to the more focused study of Phase II.
In Phase II students define the focus of their research programs and prepare for their qualifying examinations. Thus, the final quarter of the second year and the third year are divided between completing required courses, taking other seminars, and preparing for the qualifying examinations. Students should plan to complete their qualifying exams by the end of their ninth or tenth quarter of enrollment; they must have completed the exam by the end of the tenth quarter.
In Phase III students research and write their dissertations. At the end of the tenth quarter, they file their dissertation prospectuses with the department. Students defend their dissertations toward the end of the spring quarter of the sixth year of residence (or the fifth year, for students who enter with an M.A. degree and successfully petition six transfer courses).