Here are the key steps that you and your committee follow, with the assistance of the Director of Graduate Studies, to make sure you meet all the requirements that the Graduate School mandates for graduation with a PhD.
When you enter the program, you should sit down with the Director and discuss your plan of study, including all program requirements. Please also review the PhD Professionalization Timeline.
Some forms you complete on your own, and Alyson has these in Word format. NOTE: ALL FORMS must be returned to Alyson before being sent to the Graduate School. (We keep copies of all forms in the English Department files.)
Doctoral Committee Form (available from Alyson)
At approximately 18 hours of course work, you should form your PhD committee—a Chair and two other members. You will need at least one tenured member on your committee. You also need to have faculty representing the areas of your written examination. See PhD Exam Procedures and The English Department Policy on Doctoral Committes on the website. The Director and your committee sign this form.
Revised Committee Form (available from Alyson)
From time to time, committees change. For example, a faculty member goes on leave. You need three committee members, so you may have to use this form. The Director and your committee sign this form.
Plan of Study Form (available from Alyson)
Along with the Committee form, you file your Plan of Study. This is one of the most important documents you will submit to the Graduate School. The Director will help you draft this document. The Director and your committee sign this form. Note that no more than three 500-level courses can be included on the doctoral plan of study. Moreover, graduate courses with grades lower than a B may not be included on the plan.
Revised Plan of Study Form (available from Alyson)
As with a change in committee, often you do not take all the courses you plan to and thus a short revision form may be necessary when the course work is completed. The Director and your committee sign this form.
Directed Reading—English 778 & Independent Doctoral Study—English 780 (available from Alyson)
English 778 may be taken only after acquiring 24 hours of graduate coursework in English. The Graduate School reviews the form to make sure the student is eligible to take the independent study courses, obtains the necessary Graduate School signatures and returns a copy to the department. See The English Department Guidelines on Directed Readings.
When you have completed the foreign language requirement, bring your test score to Alyson. It will be documented on your plan of study.
You and the members of your committee need to meet and discuss the exams, preferably at least one year before you take exams. You and your Chair work together to draft the reading lists for the three examination areas; the Chair then sets up a meeting with the entire committee (the Director is notified of the meeting). In that meeting you finalize the lists and the committee discusses such items as the kinds of questions they may ask, methods of studying for exams, thoughts on emphasis of the written examinations. After this meeting you may contact the members of the committee individually if you have questions about your readings. Written exams are administered twice annually, February and October. When you pass all three written exams, your oral exam follows within a month. See PhD Exam Procedures on the website.
Give copies of your final reading lists to Alyson and have them placed in your individual file the semester before taking the exams. After the exams, copies of these lists will be made available to faculty and students in the departmental file.
Whether the Director or the Chair sets up the time and location that the exams will be taken, Alyson must receive that information in advance of the exams. Alyson can administer exams also if notified in advance and the exams are properly labeled. She will also collect and copy them for each member of the committee and for your departmental file.
When you pass your written exams and the follow-up oral exam, the Chair notifies the Director and Alyson either by memo or email. Alyson then writes a memo to the Graduate School. Chairs, please as a courtesy, notify Alyson of the dates and times a student will be taking exams in advance.
Within approximately six months after passing the oral exam, you file your approved dissertation prospectus along with the Dissertation Topic Approval and Application for Admission to Candidacy forms. See the Dissertation Procedures on the website for prospectus guidelines and procedures. After the dissertation defense, a copy of the prospectus may be made available to future doctoral candidates in a public file.
Dissertation Topic Approval (available from Alyson)
Within six months of passing your exams and when your committee has approved your dissertation prospectus, you file another form. This is an approximation of the final dissertation: title and brief description. The Director and committee sign this form, and the prospectus is attached to it when sent to the Grad School.
Application for Admission to Candidacy (available from Alyson)
You also file for Candidacy when you submit the Dissertation Topic Approval form. Your Chair signs this form.
You apply for graduation online. The deadline varies slightly from semester to semester but in general it is no later than 2 weeks from the beginning of classes. Miss this deadline and you will not graduate in that semester. No exceptions granted by the Graduate School. Print out a copy of the application for your English Department file.
AT LEAST two weeks before your defense, a Final Oral Examination Schedule (available from Alyson) is completed by the Chair and sent to the Graduate School. Your Chair MUST complete this form and return it to Alyson. This form includes the following key details: Title of Dissertation, an Abstract, Place and Time of Defense. Your Chair signs this form.
Also, departmental policy requires that you submit a “final” draft of the dissertation to your Committee one month BEFORE the defense. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Committee.
When you pass your oral defense, a Results of Oral Defense form (available from Alyson) is submitted by your Chair. Be sure your Chair contacts the Director and Alyson by email or memo. The Chair signs this form.
This copy, though not THE final version, is signed by your committee. Then you have some extra time to get the final copy in.