The PhD, 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 student’s areas of interest. During the summer after the first year of study, students build on their course work and pursue a research project. The project normally forms the basis of the MA thesis. An advisor is assigned to each entering student who will work with the student to formulate a plan of study for the first year, and to identify a chair for the Master’s thesis. At this time students should also begin to identify areas of specialization and eventual preliminary exam areas.
The Second Year
In the second students may 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 by the beginning of semester 4 of graduate study (end of January of the second year). 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.
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. In the third year 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. For those without teaching experience, the third year is also the time to fulfill the teaching requirement.
The preparation and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation proposal should occur during the semester following the successful completion of the preliminary examination. The fourth year is normally devoted to 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.