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Year 3: Requirements, Expectations & Deadlines

Updated September 2020

Program Emphasis

During the third year in the PhD Program, student will further define the focus of the research programs and prepare for and qualifying exams.  This includes writing their qualifying research paper and completing their seminar requirements.  At the end of the third year, in the 9th Quarter, students will complete their qualifying exams. 

During the third year, students are expected to take six seminars and have a 50% TA position.  For students who have other means of support and wish to fulfill their teaching requirement in another year, nine seminars will be taken.  In the course of these seminars, students will complete all remaining seminar requirements.  If not already taken in the first or second year, students will need to complete LTTH 210C in Spring Quarter of the third year.

Note:  If students have already completed their seminar requirements prior to the end of the third year, they still must be enrolled in at least 12 units of graduate or upper-division undergraduate coursework each quarter.  In place of traditional graduate seminars, students may take independent study courses (typically 297 reading courses) to devote time to reading in preparation of the qualifying exams.

Course Requirements (Year 3)

Fall (7th Quarter) Winter (8th Quarter) Spring (9th Quarter)
LTXX 298 (Qualifying Paper) Grad Seminar LTTH 210C (or another Grad seminar)
Grad Seminar Grad Seminar Grad Seminar
50% TA (or Grad Seminar) 50% TA (or Grad Seminar) 50% TA (or Grad Seminar)

Additional Expectations & Deadlines

Seventh Quarter:

  • Attend the PhD 3rd-Year Cohort Meeting.
  • Add planned Winter Quarter courses to your PhD Requirements Worksheet, and email it to the advising staff at litgrad@ucsd.edu as soon as Winter registration begins.  Advising staff will confirm that your courses are approved to apply where you have them listed, as well as confirm if you are staying on track (or if there are any petitions you need to file or different course choices you may need to consider).
  • Enroll for LTXX 298 with the Chair or Co-Chair of the Doctoral Committee (or other member, if necessary) to write the qualifying research paper. See more details in the "Qualifying Research Paper" section below.
  • By the end of the quarter: submit the completed research paper to the Committee Chair and one other member of the Doctoral Committee for review.

Eighth Quarter:

  • By Friday of Week 5: submit the finalized research paper to the PhD Coordinator, as this is part one of the qualifying written exam.  The PhD Coordinator will send it to the entire Doctoral Committee during the qualifying exams.
  • Add planned Spring Quarter courses to your PhD Requirements Worksheet, and email it to the advising staff at litgrad@ucsd.edu as soon as Spring registration begins.  Advising staff will confirm that your courses are approved to apply where you have them listed, as well as confirm if you are staying on track (or if there are any petitions you need to file or different course choices you may need to consider).
  • Complete annual Spring Evaluation self-assessment (March).

Ninth Quarter:

  • Beginning of quarter: schedule written and oral qualifying exams (oral exam follows written exam by two weeks).
  • Complete all preparatory requirements for the qualifying exams.  See more details in the "Qualifying Exams" section below.
  • Add planned Fall Quarter courses to your PhD Requirements Worksheet, and email it to the advising staff at litgrad@ucsd.edu as soon as Fall registration begins.  Advising staff will confirm that your courses are approved to apply where you have them listed, as well as confirm if you are staying on track (or if there are any petitions you need to file or different course choices you may need to consider).
  • Review and sign annual Spring Evaluation (May).

Qualifying Research Paper

During the seventh quarter, students will register for one four-unit LTXX 298 with the Chair or Co-Chair of their Doctoral Committee (or other member, if necessary) to complete the research paper.  It should demonstrate the student's awareness of relevant research on the topic and make a clearly stated contribution to the field.  Ideally, it should lead into dissertation research.  It may be the source of a future publication, although this need not be the case. 

Requirements

  • The paper will be 30-35 pages long.
  • The paper should represent work in a distinct area of study, with a minimum of overlap regarding materials prepared for the two reading lists. 

The research paper is complete when it has been read by two members of the student's Doctoral Committee (must include Chair or Co-Chairs), edited and finalized, and then submitted to the Graduate Office by Friday of Week 5.  The approved research paper must be submitted to the PhD Coordinator by the end of Week 5 of the 8th Quarter (or the quarter after the student enrolled in the LT** 298 course for writing the qualifying paper).  It is recommended that students send the paper to their two committee members as early as possible to give them time to read and provide feedback, as the final deadline for the student cannot be changed.  The PhD Coordinator will distribute the paper to the student’s Doctoral Committee members during the qualifying exams (as part of the written exam).

Qualifying Exams Overview

Students should have already completed the following tasks before the start of the 9th Quarter, in preparation for the qualifying exam process.  If any of these have not been completed, students must complete them as soon as possible.  The qualifying exam process may not move forward until these are done:

  1. Constitute Doctoral Committee:  See the “Program: Year 2” page of the handbook.
  2. Submit the "Pre-Qualifying Meeting Worksheet" to the Graduate Office: See the “Program: Year 2” page of the handbook.
  3. Submit the approved qualifying research paper to the Graduate Office:  See the “Eighth Quarter” and “Qualifying Research Paper” sections above.
  4. Update PhD Worksheet through the 9th Quarter: See the “Lit Dept & PhD Overview” page of the handbook.

During the 9th Quarter, students complete the remaining steps in the qualifying exam process.

Qualifying Exam Process

At the beginning of the quarter

  1. Confirm the Doctoral Committee:  The student will confirm that their Doctoral Committee (as constituted with GRAD DIVISION) is up-to-date and still meets all requirements for a valid committee.  If any changes need to be made, the student will reconstitute their committee (see more details below about committee reconstitution).
  2. PhD Worksheet Submission: The student must complete, sign, and submit this form to the PhD Coordinator to confirm that they have completed all their coursework requirements, including the 18 seminar, historical breadth, and language requirements.  Any necessary course petitions should have already been submitted and approved.  The student’s current Doctoral Committee must be listed on the bottom of the form as well.  Once the PhD Coordinator checks the form for accuracy, they will route it for approval to the student’s Committee Chair or Co-Chairs and the Director of Doctoral Studies.
  3. PhD Qualifying Exam Schedule Request: After the student works directly with their Doctoral Committee to schedule a date and time for the oral exam, they must complete and submit the "PhD Qualifying Exam Schedule Request" form (see the “Forms” page of the website).  The form must be submitted at least one month before the proposed Oral Exam date. 
  4. Schedule the Timed Written Exams:  The student will contact the PhD Coordinator to set up dates for the timed written exams.  The student must arrange to take and complete the two-part timed written exams at least two weeks before the Qualifying Oral Exam.

By the end of the quarter

  1. Written Exam (timed):  The student will complete the two days of timed written exams, facilitated by the PhD Coordinator.  (See more details about the written exam format below)
  2. Oral Exam:  At least two weeks after the written exams, the oral exam will take place.  (See more details about the oral exam format below)
  3. Final Paperwork Submission:  The PhD Coordinator will provide the student with their signed “Report of the Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy” (2-3 working days after the oral exam).  The student will need to take the paperwork to the Central Cashier’s Office to pay the candidacy fee.  Once the fee has been paid and the paperwork stamped by the Central Cashier, the student will turn in the paperwork at the GRAD DIVISION office.

Reconstituting the Doctoral Committee

When a change in the Doctoral Committee is necessary, the student completes the committee reconstitution request form online (see the “Forms” page of the website).  This information includes fully updated committee members, their specialties, and an explanation for the change(s) in the committee.  Each individual change to the committee must be explained.  The PhD Coordinator then submits an online request to GRAD DIVISION to formally reconstitute the membership of the Doctoral Committee.  The Committee Chair or Co-Chairs will need to electronically approve the request for reconstitution.  The online form will subsequently be routed to the Director of Doctoral Studies, before submission to GRAD DIVISION for approval.  The student, along with their entire new committee, will receive a notification email from GRAD DIVISION when the committee has formally been reconstituted.

Doctoral Committee Oral Exam Participation

For the Qualifying Oral Exam, all members of the student’s Doctoral Committee must participate in accordance with campus policy.  When scheduling the oral exam, students must ensure that they are meeting the following requirements for committee member participation:

  1. A doctoral committee member can participate in one of three ways: physically present (meaning they are in the room), telepresent (meaning they participate by live video teleconference), or in advance (if they must be absent on the exam date, it is permissible to examine the candidate in advance of the exam date).
  2. More than half of the doctoral committee must be physically present. No more than two members may be telepresent.
  3. The committee chair, or one co-chair, must be physically present.
  4. The outside tenured member must be physically present or telepresent.
  5. If an emergency situation arises that will affect the number of committee members present, the student must notify the PhD Coordinator immediately. Every effort must be made to reschedule the oral exam so all committee member may participate according to policy.  If this is not possible and an exception to policy is needed, the Committee Chair must submit the request to the PhD Coordinator for further processing.

It is the student’s responsibility to work with their committee to schedule the oral exam and meet the above requirements.  If any committee members will be telepresent or participating in advance, students should notify the Graduate Coordinator as soon as possible.  Required paperwork for the oral exam must have wet signatures, so plans must be made to obtain original signatures from all committee members who will not be physically present (usually well in advance of the exam).

Written Exam Format

The qualifying written exam consists of the qualifying research paper and two (timed) written exams.  The qualifying research paper will have already been submitted during the eighth quarter.  The two (timed) written exams will take place at least two weeks before the scheduled oral exam.  The written exams will take place on two days, with one day off in between (or a two-day weekend, if scheduled for Friday & Monday).  The first exam day concentrates on the student’s first reading list; the second exam day concentrates on the student’s second reading list.  Each day's exam consists of one four-hour essay.  Students and Doctoral Committee members will consult about possible questions for the exam, but faculty are not permitted to inform the student of a question's final configuration.  The Committee Chair has the final responsibility to prepare the exam questions by soliciting questions from the Doctoral Committee members.  From the suggested list of questions, the Committee Chair will choose two for each exam; the student will then choose one of the questions for each exam.

Individual written exam questions will often have multiple elements or sub-questions, and students are expected to address all elements of the question they choose to write on.  Each written exam should be at least 2,000 words.  Students may use books and notes during the examination.  If the examination is to be written in a language other than English, it must be specified in writing prior to the exam.  If a student submits an incomplete written exam (e.g., not addressing all elements of the chosen question) or a written exam of insufficient length (fewer than 2,000 words), their exam is subject to departmental review to determine if they must retake the written exam in order to pass.  This determination will happen before the scheduled oral exam and will be made in conjunction with the student’s doctoral committee. 

The PhD Coordinator will email the two questions to the student at a predetermined time (as arranged by the student).  The student then has four hours to write their essay and email it to the PhD Coordinator as an attachment.  The PhD Coordinator is responsible for emailing and/or delivering copies of the exams to each member of the Doctoral Committee.  If a student submits their written exam after the deadline, their exam is subject to departmental review to determine if they must retake the written exam in order to pass.  This determination will happen before the scheduled oral exam and will be made in conjunction with the student’s doctoral committee.

All members of the Doctoral Committee will read all written components of the exam (the two essays and the previously submitted qualifying research paper) within a period of two weeks following the written exam.  Doctoral Committee members must unanimously agree that the student has passed the written portion of the exam.  It is the Chair's responsibility to poll the Doctoral Committee members for their responses.

Oral Exam Format

If the student passes the written portion of the exam, the oral examination follows in two to four weeks.  The oral examination will last for two hours and will cover materials on the reading lists, the written exam essays, and the qualifying research paper.  The Doctoral Committee must agree unanimously that the student has passed the oral examination.  Students must pass both the written and oral exams to advance to candidacy.

The oral examination is a private meeting.  Students may invite no more than four observers, who usually attend to take notes on the examination.

If the Doctoral Committee unanimously agrees that the student has passed the qualifying exams, they will sign the "Report of the Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy” (brought to the oral exam by the Committee Chair or Co-Chair).  The Committee Chair or Co-Chair will submit the signed form to the Graduate Office after the oral exam, so additional department signatures may be collected. The PhD Coordinator will provide the student with their fully-signed “Report of the Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy” (2-3 working days after the oral exam).  The student will need to take the paperwork to the Central Cashier’s Office to pay the candidacy fee ($50).  Once the fee has been paid and the paperwork stamped by the Central Cashier, the student will turn in the paperwork at the GRAD DIVISION office.

Master of Arts and Candidate in Philosophy Degrees

Upon passing the qualifying examination, the doctoral candidate will be awarded the Candidate in Philosophy degree (an interim degree). 

Some students may also receive an M.A. degree (also known as an “M.A.-Along-the-Way”).  UCSD policy dictates that duplicate degrees may not be awarded unless the disciplines are substantially different.  Literature students who have not previously earned an M.A. degree will automatically be awarded the M.A.-Along-the-Way from UCSD. 

For Literature students who have previously earned an M.A. degree, the department may request to award an M.A.-Along-the-Way if it is determined that the disciplines are substantially different (meaning completely outside of literary or cultural studies).  The final decision is determined by GRAD DIVISION and UCSD’s Academic Senate.  If a student would like to know if they are eligible to receive an M.A.-Along-the-Way upon passing the qualifying exams, the student should consult with the PhD Coordinator.

If a student is approved to receive an M.A.-Along-the-Way, the M.A. course requirements (which are a subset of the full PhD seminar requirements) must be fulfilled by only UCSD courses taken during the PhD Program.  No transferred courses from previous graduate coursework may be applied to this subset of requirement.  The specific subset of twelve courses required for the M.A.-Along-the-Way degree are:

  • LTTH 210A, 210B, and 210C
  • 4 Graduate seminars in the primary literature concentration
  • 2 Graduate seminars in the secondary literature (language other than the primary literature concentration)
  • 1 Graduate seminar elective
  • 2 LTxx 298s (qualifying prep independent study courses)
PhD Program Advising
(858) 534-3217
litgrad@ucsd.edu

Director of Doctoral Studies
Daisuke Miyao

Doctoral Affairs Committee
2020-2021

Daisuke Miyao (Chair)
Hoang Nguyen
Dan Vitkus