Ph.D. Programs in English
The Department of English offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in English for students who already completed a master's degree. It also offers a combined Master of Arts (MA)/Ph.D. program in English for students with a bachelor's degree who know they want to pursue a Ph.D. Graduate students in both tracks gain a rich education, benefit from faculty mentorship, and engage with innovative teaching and scholarship. Our graduates are well prepared for exciting careers in academia and beyond.
Program Length and Timelines
Requirements should be completed in six years for Ph.D. students and in seven years for students in the MA/Ph.D. track.
Students normally enroll in coursework for three years beyond the BA or two years beyond the external MA and then take Ph.D. Exams.
At least one year (two consecutive semesters) of graduate work must be spent in full-time study (“residence”) at Storrs. Doctoral students normally fulfill this requirement while taking course work. Students must maintain continuous registration throughout the graduate program.
Timeline - MA/Ph.D. Track
Those who enter with only a BA in English usually complete their Ph.D. degree in six to seven years.
Year 1: Consult with Major Advisor about courses to be taken. Complete at least 15 credits, including three required fall courses: ENGL 5100 (Theory and Teaching of Writing, 3 credits), ENGL 5182 (Teaching Practicum, 1 credit) and ENGL 5150 (Research Methods, 1 credit).
Year 2: Complete at least 15 credits, including ENGL 5160 (Professional Development, Spring Semester). Complete the Second-Year Review. Submit Plan of Study for MA in the fall semester.
Year 3: Complete at least 15 credits. Obtain Approval of Exam Lists by April 15th. Complete language requirement. Submit Plan of Study for Ph.D. in the fall semester.
Year 4: Complete Exams, including Exam Conference, by February 28th (fall recommended). Complete Prospectus Colloquium by April 1.
Year 5: Work on Dissertation. Complete Chapter Advisory Conference by October 15.
Years 6 and possibly 7: Complete dissertation and defense. File “Application for Degree” in final semester.
Timeline - Ph.D. Track
Those who enter with a MA in English usually complete the Ph.D. degree in five to six years.
Year 1: Consult with Major Advisor about courses to be taken. Complete at least 12 credits, including ENGL 5160 (Professional Development, Spring Semester).
Year 2: Complete at least 12 credits. Complete coursework requirements. Complete language requirement. Obtain Approval of Exam Lists by April 15. Submit Plan of Study for Ph.D. in the fall semester.
Year 3: Complete Exams, including Exam Conference, by February 28th (fall recommended). Complete Prospectus Colloquium by April 1.
Year 4: Work on Dissertation. Complete Chapter Advisory Conference by September 15.
Years 5 and possibly 6: Complete dissertation and defense. File “Application for Degree” in final semester.
All Ph.D. students are assigned a Major Advisor by the Director of Graduate Studies upon matriculation. Associate Advisors may be members of any University department. Students should discuss all courses and program policies with their Major Advisor.
Students may change Major or Associate advisors at any time (for example, when selecting an appropriate examination committee). Forms to change Advisory Committee members are available in the Graduate English Office and on the university's website for the Graduate School.
Plan of Study
The Plan of Study for the Ph.D. degree must be signed by all members of the Advisory Committee and submitted to the Graduate School in the last semester of coursework for the degree. The Graduate School requires 15 credits of the mandatory research course GRAD 6950. These credits can be fulfilled within two to three semesters of continuous registration with a full Teaching Assistantship.
The Plan of Study must indicate which courses have been taken and are to be taken in fulfillment of requirements, how the language requirement has been or will be fulfilled, and what the dissertation topic will be. The Plan of Study must be on file with the Graduate School before the Dissertation Prospectus Colloquium takes place. Any changes–in courses submitted, language requirement plans–must be submitted to the Graduate School on a Request for Changes in Plan of Graduate Study form. All forms are available in the English Graduate Office and the Graduate School website.
Coursework Requirements and Policy on Incomplete Grades
Students who feel they have fulfilled any of the course requirements at another institution may petition the graduate program office to have those requirements waived at UConn.
MA/Ph.D. students who are continuing for the PhD have until the end of the third year of coursework to fulfill the distribution requirements.
Coursework is normally taken at Storrs. Transfer of up to six credits from another institution’s graduate program, or six credits from non-degree graduate coursework undertaken at UConn, may be accepted toward the MA or the Ph.D., provided that such credits are not used to earn a degree at another institution.
The Graduate Executive Committee recommends that students take no more than six credits of Independent Study. All Independent Studies must be requested through the Independent Study Form and approved by the Graduate Executive Committee.
All graduate students (MA, MA/PhD, and PhD) are required to fulfill three distribution requirements:
- a course in pre-1800 texts,
- a course in post-1800 texts, and
- a course in theory.
For MA students, these requirements ensure breadth of study to support common pathways beyond that degree, including secondary education and doctoral work. For PhD students, these seminars provide vital context for the deeper investigations required by PhD exams and the dissertation.
The 1800 pivot date of the chronological distribution requirements is not meant to signal an important shift in literary or cultural history but instead establishes a midpoint in common areas of study; in asking students to take coursework on either side of 1800, these distribution requirements ensure that students in earlier periods look forward to later developments in the field and that students in later periods trace the field backward.
Students can fulfill these requirements in the following ways:
- Take a course that focuses entirely on the distribution requirement’s stated area of study. For example, a Milton seminar would fulfill the pre-1800 requirement, a twentieth-century literature course would fulfill the post-1800 requirement, and a lyric theory seminar would fulfill the theory seminar requirement. Often, these courses are offered under course designations (such as ENGL 5330: Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature or ENGL 6500: Seminar in Literary Theory) that make clear their ability to fulfill distribution requirements. However, at times courses listed under more general course designations can fulfill these requirements. Consult with the instructor of record and the Director of Graduate Studies if a course’s eligibility to fulfill a distribution requirement is unclear.
- Take a transhistorical seminar or a seminar organized by a methodology or thematic concern and complete research and writing in the distribution requirement’s stated area of study. Seminars that span centuries (such as Shakespeare on Screen) or those that focus on a methodology or theme (such as Disability Studies) can fulfill the pre- or post-1800 distribution requirement if the student completes the major writing assignment of the seminar focusing on texts or ideas from the relevant chronological period. For example, if a student enrolls in a Medical Humanities seminar, they can fulfill the pre-1800 requirement by focusing their work for the course on a pre-1800 text, such as Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, even if the bulk of that seminar’s reading is post-1800. If they enroll in a seminar on adaptation of Arthurian texts, they can fulfill the pre-1800 requirement by completing work that draws substantially on Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur in theorizing modern retellings of that text. Please consult with the instructor of record to ensure that this type of work is possible if you plan on using a transhistorical, methodology-based, or thematic seminar to fulfill a distribution requirement.
- Complete a teaching mentorship in the distribution requirement’s stated area of study.
- Submit to the graduate office proof that you have completed a seminar in the distribution requirement’s stated area of study (unofficial transcripts and, if available, a syllabus) in the completion of a previous degree. Note that while coursework completed in the course of earning a previous degree can be used to fulfill English Department distribution requirements, those credits cannot count toward your UConn degree on your plan of study.
Note that some seminars can fulfill more than one distribution requirement. For example, a seminar in African American Literary Theory fulfills the theory distribution requirement and can, with relevant research writing, fulfill either the pre- or post-1800 requirement.
Students should email the graduate program administrator when they complete a distribution requirement to ensure that the graduate office keeps accurate records.
Policy on Incomplete Grades
The Graduate Executive Committee strongly discourages incompletes. However, the Committee recognizes that, at times, extenuating circumstances merit offering a student additional time beyond the semester to complete work for a seminar. In that case, the student should determine with the faculty member teaching the seminar a reasonable timeline for completing and submitting seminar work — ideally no more than one month. It is the student’s responsibility to remain in communication with their professor about outstanding work, especially if the student requires additional time.
According to the academic regulations of the Graduate School, if a student does not submit all work required to resolve an incomplete within 12 months following the end of the semester for which the grade was recorded, no credit will be allowed for the course. A limited extension of the incomplete beyond 12 months may be granted by the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the instructor, but the Graduate School is not obligated to approve an extension if the instructor of the course is no longer at UConn.
If a student accumulates more than three incompletes on their transcript, they will be placed on probationary status by the Graduate Executive Committee and may be required to resolve those incompletes before being allowed to register for additional coursework. A student whose transcript includes four or more grades of incomplete may not be eligible for a teaching assistantship.
Overview. As part of their graduate work, MA/PhD and PhD students in English study at least one language other than English. In fulfilling the language requirement, students are not expected to achieve spoken or written fluency in another language. Instead, the goal of this requirement is to acquire reading knowledge. This requirement is in place to:
- Enrich or expand students’ research and pedagogy in their area of specialization. Basic knowledge in another language enables and encourages students to seek out and explore primary texts and scholarship in languages other than English and thus to respond more fully to the critical conversations occurring in their areas of expertise.
- Provide students with linguistic tools they will find valuable in a range of careers. English PhDs pursue careers in a wide array of contexts, including academia, nonprofits, publishing, secondary education, government institutions, libraries and archives, and museums — all pathways that could benefit from the expanded worldview, human connection, and research expertise that experience in languages provides. Moreover, anyone working in a teaching capacity, and who therefore is likely to encounter students from diverse linguistic backgrounds, benefits from an insider knowledge of the experience of reading and learning as a non-native speaker.
- Challenge an anglocentric understanding of language in our discipline and culture at large. Our department values a diversity of voices and acknowledges that many languages and ways of speaking have been silenced through violence, both physical and cultural. We encourage our students to study languages other than English, in part, to resist a push for monolingualism in America and the cultural erasures that accompany it.
The methods students may use to fulfill this requirement are outlined below. While we require students engage only one language other than English, we recognize that those specializing in certain research areas might find acquiring additional language skills necessary for their research.
The Director of Graduate Studies recommends that all students, and especially those who are not entering the program with knowledge of a language other than English, discuss their plans regarding this requirement with their major advisor early in the program, preferably during their first semester. They should plan on fulfilling the requirement prior to completing coursework. At the latest, students should plan to complete the requirement before the submission of the dissertation prospectus. Please consult with the Director of Graduate Studies if any problem arises in completing this requirement according to that timeline.
Methods. In collaboration with their major advisor, students should determine which of the methods of fulfilling the language requirement described below best suits their course of study. For methods (1) through (3), students must have completed the courses or examination no more than five years prior to submitting their PhD plan of study for approval.
The options below are arranged from those that require no additional work to those that require the deepest investment. If a student anticipates that a language will be vital to their research, we encourage them to select a means for fulfilling the requirement that allows for substantial language study. Please note that students may choose to pursue the study of written languages (such as Spanish, German, Arabic, Mandarin, etc.), digital languages (such as Python), and gestural languages (ASL). The option to pursue any particular language will depend, in part, on resources (faculty, coursework) available at UConn and beyond.
- The student may establish evidence of competence in the language through an official transcript stating that the undergraduate or a higher degree was earned with that language as the major or minor area of study.
- The student may pass an examination set by a member of the university faculty (or, if approved by the advisory committee and the DGS, a faculty member at another college or university). The examiner may be a member of the English department — and the graduate office maintains a list of faculty qualified and willing to administer language exams — but may not be a member of the student’s advisory committee.The examination will include the translation into English of a passage approximately 400 to 500 words in length with the assistance of a dictionary. The examiner will choose the passage in collaboration with the student’s major advisor. The examination must be supervised and have a reasonable time limit. In the event that a student is studying a language not typically rendered in print/text form, such as American Sign Language (ASL), the examiner will provide an appropriate text that the student will translate into English. If the result is not successful, the exam may be repeated as many times as needed.Students pursuing this option can consult with their advisors and the graduate office for resources they can use to learn independently in preparation for the exam. To schedule a language exam, the student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies. When the exam is finished, the examiner should send an email confirming the student’s successful completion of the exam to the graduate office, copying the student and their major advisor.
- A PhD or MA reading examination in a language other than English passed at another graduate school may be accepted in transfer (subject to the above five-year limitation). The student should provide the graduate office evidence that they passed such an exam.
- The student may pass both semesters of an approved one-year reading or beginning course in the language with grades equivalent to C or higher. The courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis, with a grade of Pass denoting a performance that meets the language requirement. Alternatively, the student may pass a course in a language other than English or in literature written in a language other than English at or above the 3000 level, provided that the reading for the course is required to be done in the language. Language courses taken concurrently with the graduate program at other institutions are eligible to fulfill the requirement as long as the student can provide evidence that they have taken the course and received a grade of C or higher.
- The student can complete UConn’s Graduate Certificate in Literary Translation.
- The student’s native language is a language other than English.
The Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations are based on two reading lists (details below), which are created in the final semester of coursework and must be approved by the Graduate Executive Committee. The Graduate Executive Committee recommends the following timeline for completing the Doctoral Examination and moving to the dissertation.
- In consultation with the Advisory Committee, create exam lists in the spring semester of the final coursework year. While creating exam lists, discuss the timing and formatting of the Ph.D. exam (details below).
- Submit exam lists and the PhD Exam List Approval Form to the Graduate Office for approval by April 15.
- Submit Plan of Study to the Graduate School in summer or early fall semester in the third year.
- Take the Doctoral Examination no later than February 28th of the fourth year for MA/Ph.D.s or third year for Ph.D.s. The Graduate Executive Committee recommends that students take exams in the late fall.
- Submit dissertation prospectus and schedule the Prospectus Colloquium no later than April 1st of the fourth year for MA/Ph.D.s, or third year for MA/Ph.D.s.
Creation and Submission of Examination Lists
The Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations are based on two reading lists, which provide the materials for three discrete exams: one addressing the first reading list, one addressing the second reading list, and a third which combines materials from both lists. For the purposes of the exams, each list designates a clearly defined and professionally recognizable field or subfield of scholarship (e.g., a literary-historical period such as the Renaissance, a transtemporal genre such as Drama, a critical tradition such as Feminism, an established body of literature such as Children’s Literature). The relationship between the two reading lists is to be determined by the advisory committee, with the understanding that the fields identified by each list are to complement one another (in terms of history, discipline, method, genre, or otherwise). When appropriate, students should discuss with their advisors ways to handle the challenges of representing multiple subfields and/or disciplines within the two-list structure
Traditionally, each list comprises approximately 60-75 works, including 75% primary works and 25% secondary works. A “secondary” work may refer to a book, essay, or group of essays including literary criticism, historical, or theoretical texts. Lists from students in certain fields may look slightly different. For example, lists in Rhetoric and Composition may contain entirely secondary texts, including articles and book chapters alongside book-length texts. Lists in fields such as Digital Humanities or Film Studies may include texts in a variety of modalities. Students in these fields should discuss with their advisors the best way to proceed. All lists should include no fewer than 60-75 works overall, of any genre or modality. Because each field is different, a student’s list should reflect the kind of texts (e.g., theoretical, multimodal, visual) that are important in that field. How each text “counts” on the Ph.D. exam list will be determined at the discretion of the student and their advisory committee, as the graduate office recognizes that length and complexity are not equivalent.
Generally speaking, excerpts are not permissible, though standard excerpts of exceedingly long or multi-volume works may be permitted with the approval of the advisory committee. In assembling selections of poems, essays, excerpts, etc., students should not use undergraduate-oriented anthologies such as the Norton or Bedford anthologies; instead, students should research and choose an authoritative scholarly edition that surveys adequately — for a Ph.D.-level exam — each author’s writings. The student’s reading lists should reflect both breadth and depth of reading, as well as a sense of the history of criticism throughout the fields and contemporary critical and theoretical approaches. There should be no overlap of works between reading lists. Selections of works should take into consideration both coverage of the field and preparation for the anticipated dissertation.
Reading lists are to be drawn up by the student in consultation with their advisory committee, beginning at the end of the fall semester of the final year of coursework. Students are encouraged, though not required, to meet with the advisory committee as a whole to discuss the creation of the lists. All items in each list should be numbered clearly, and lists should be arranged chronologically or in some other systematic fashion.
Each list should be accompanied by a brief rationale (no longer than 500 words), that explains its content. The purpose of the rationales is the following: (1) to identify a body of texts and its legibility as part of a professionally recognizable field or subfield; (2) to justify inclusions or exclusions that might seem idiosyncratic or which are, at least, not self-explanatory (e.g., including more drama than prose or poetry on a Renaissance list); (3) to indicate a methodological, theoretical, or other type of emphasis (e.g., a high number of gender studies-oriented secondary works).
The student is responsible for making copies of their lists and rationales and depositing them, along with the completed PhD Exam List Approval Form, in the Graduate English Office no later than April 15th of the final year of coursework. All reading lists will then be referred to the Graduate Executive Committee for approval. The Graduate Executive Committee will not approve lists that fail to meet the basic guidelines recommended above. Students whose ideas about the exams continue to change during the reading period may update their lists with the approval of their advisory committees.
Scheduling the Examination
After examination lists are approved, students in consultation with their advisory committees need to agree upon the timing and format of the exams (details below) as well as specific dates on which their exam is to be administered. Please complete the PhD Exam Scheduling Form which will be automatically routed to the Graduate English Office. If the student requires a space on campus to take the exam, arrangements should be made at this time. The deadline by which all students must take their Examination (including the exam conference) is February 28th of the fourth year for MA/Ph.D.s or the same date of the third year for Ph.D.s.
Understanding Ph.D. Examination Deadline and Time Limits
The Ph.D. examination was devised in part to facilitate students’ timely completion of the doctoral degree, and so the Graduate Executive Committee requires that students meet all official deadlines. Students incapable of meeting an examination deadline, for whatever reason, must apply for a time extension from the Director of Graduate Studies by submitting a typed request, signed by the student and their major advisor, ideally at least one month in advance of the deadline. The letter must state the specific reasons for the time delay and also designate the specific amount of extra time requested.
The Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the Graduate Executive Committee, will determine an appropriate response to the request, which will be communicated to the candidate by the Director of Graduate Studies. The Committee’s response will specify new deadlines by which the exam should be taken.
Taking the Examination
The Ph.D. exam consists of three parts. The first two exams (Field 1 and Field 2) test the student’s knowledge of works on each field list. The third exam (Synthesis) tests the student’s ability to combine material from both reading lists in the service of a comprehensive argument, ideally one informing future work on the dissertation.
The exam can take one of three formats, charted below. These formats are designed to provide graduate students and their advisory committees the flexibility to design a Ph.D. exam that is intellectually challenging and responsive to a student’s needs and goals. As students prepare reading lists for their exams, they must consult with their advisory committee to select a fitting exam format. In the course of these deliberations, students and their committees also should take into account matters of access (outlined below) as well as students’ caretaking responsibilities, their ability to secure a quiet space to take exams, and other relevant factors. If these factors require a change in the exam’s format not recognized below, or in the event of a disagreement, the student should consult with their advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.
|Consecutive||Three written essays (Field One, Field Two, and Synthesis) composed over a period of 3 days of writing (i.e., starts 8 am on day 1 and is due 8 am on day 4).
For each exam, the student should receive two questions, of which the student selects and answers one.The student can receive all exam questions at once.
This format requires an exam conference, but the student will know if they have passed or failed the exam before that meeting. The exam conference is described below. It is ungraded.
|Dispersed||Three written essays (Field One, Field Two, and Synthesis). Each exam should be taken within 24 hours, but the three exams can be spaced across any three dates within a period of one month, with approval of all members of the advisory committee. For each exam, the student should receive two questions, of which the student selects and answers one.||None.
This format requires an exam conference, but the student will know if they have passed or failed the exam before that meeting. The exam conference is described below. It is ungraded.
|Hybrid||Two written essays (Field One and Field Two) composed under either the Consecutive or Dispersed formats and an oral synthesis, scheduled within a one-month period.||A graded, hour-long oral examination, initiated by a 15-minute presentation from the student in which they outline three to four research questions that arose from their reading, dedicating approximately equal time to each. The remaining 45 minutes is led by faculty as an oral synthesis exam.
In addition to the oral exam, this format requires an exam conference, but the student will know if they have passed or failed the exam before that meeting. The exam conference is described below. It is ungraded.
Examination questions are to be drafted by the candidate’s committee and reviewed by the Director of Graduate Studies, but the major advisor is responsible for assembling the exam. Candidates are not permitted to view the questions prior to the examination. The Graduate Office asks the major advisor to distribute questions for written exams upon the schedule determined by the student and their committee. The Graduate Administrator will assist in scheduling a space for the oral exam, if applicable.
The Graduate Executive Committee strongly recommends that all candidates consult their entire Advisory Committee about their personal understanding of the examination process and expectations for each part of it — both early in the process of assembling the lists and at a later stage just prior to scheduling the examination.
The Graduate Executive Committee assumes that answers to written exams will be approximately 10-15 pages of double-spaced prose (with limited block quoting); that each essay will answer the question asked by the advisory committee, however creatively; that each essay will establish a clear argument and seek to back it up with textual evidence; and that each essay will be clearly written and appropriately revised. Pre-written essays are strictly forbidden. The candidate should pay attention to the question’s instructions regarding the number of texts they should use in their response and not consider a text in detail in more than one essay.
Access and Accommodations for Ph.D. Exams
The University of Connecticut is committed to achieving equal educational and employment opportunity and full participation for persons with disabilities. Graduate students who have questions about access or require further access measures in any element of the graduate program should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), Wilbur Cross Building Room 204, (860) 486-2020, or visit the Center for Students with Disabilities website. Alternatively, students may register online with the CSD by logging into the student MyAccess portal.
The English Graduate Office advises students who would like to discuss matters related to access to consult with the Director of Graduate Studies, ideally during the creation of the exam lists. Access measures for Ph.D. exams may include, but are not limited to, extended time to complete the exam, the use of voice recognition programs and the extended time some programs require, or locating and scheduling space to take the exam.
The Examination Grade
Upon completion of the examination, students will receive a grade from their committee of “Pass,” or “Fail.” Major advisors should communicate this grade to their advisees as soon as possible and before the day set for the examination conference. Students who fail the examination will be required to meet with their advisory committee to determine an appropriate time and plan for retaking it. Students failing the examination twice will be dismissed from the program. Please Note: ABD status grants a salary increase and eligibility for a library study carrel.
The Examination Conference
Within two weeks of a student passing the Ph.D. examination, the advisory committee will meet with the student to discuss the examination. This examination conference is a mandatory, but not a graded, component of the examination. The purpose of the conference is twofold: to offer candidates a forum for a thorough discussion of their exam’s strengths and weaknesses and to help the student transition from the examination phase to the prospectus phase of the Ph.D.. To this end, the Graduate Executive Committee assumes that advisory committee members will divide time appropriately between offering feedback on each of the three exams and working collaboratively to establish a clear understanding of expectations, goals, deadlines for completion of the prospectus.
In light of growing diversity in students’ motivations for attaining a PhD in English and professional opportunities available to humanities PhDs, the department supports and encourages dissertations in many forms. For example, the dissertation might take the form of a prototype for a book manuscript; a born-digital project or a project with some online or computational components; or a creative work or translation with a critical introduction.
Students should consult with their advisory committee and, if necessary, the Director of Graduate Studies about the proposed format of their dissertation as early in their graduate career as is practical. During those conversations, students and their advisors should consider the format of the dissertation in relation to the students’ scholarly needs and professional goals, the expectations and standards of the profession or intellectual community the student plans to enter, and the resources the student will require to complete the proposed project, including time, funding, advising, and skills. The student, advisory committee, and Director of Graduate Studies will agree upon the form and scope of the dissertation through the submission, review, and approval of the prospectus.
The Dissertation Prospectus Colloquium is an opportunity for the student to discuss the thesis topic in detail with the Advisory Committee. The colloquium should take place before the student begins writing the dissertation. The Advisory Committee expects to be presented with a Prospectus sufficiently far along in its development for a judgment to be made on its scholarly validity and potential as a fully developed dissertation. The student and Major Advisor should inform the Director of Graduate Studies at least one month in advance of the day and time of this event. Departmental Representatives need at least two weeks notice before the actual colloquium to read the prospectus. The readers are expected to attend the colloquium; however, it is not necessary that they do so. Comments from the readers can be given to the Major Advisor and student.
Dissertation Chapter Advisory Conference
The Dissertation Chapter Advisory Conference is a non-graded opportunity for students to discuss with their advisory committees the strengths and weaknesses of a complete draft of a dissertation chapter. The conference is designed to serve three basic purposes: 1) to facilitate the transition of ABDs into the process of researching and writing the doctoral dissertation; 2) to encourage early communication between students and their committee members, and between primary and secondary advisors; 3) to encourage discussion of a future plan for the completion of the other dissertation chapters/parts. The Graduate Executive Committee requires every Ph.D. student to submit a complete draft of a chapter to the advisory committee, within 3 months but no later than 6 months after the date of the Dissertation Prospectus Colloquium. By “complete,” the Committee wishes to emphasize that the intellectual integrity of the submitted chapter must not be compromised by any omitted material (such as notes, bibliography, etc.), by significant stylistic weaknesses, grammatical errors, etc. After the Conference, students must turn into the Graduate office a First Chapter Conference Form, which must be signed by all advisory committee members.
A dissertation defense is required of every student by the Graduate School. The student’s Advisory Committee and 2 Departmental Representatives are required to attend; members of the department and the University community are invited to attend. The defense is both an examination and a forum for the candidate to comment on the scope and significance of the research. As a result of the dissertation defense, the student’s Advisory Committee may require revisions and corrections to the dissertation. The student initiates scheduling of the Defense by consulting first with members of the Advisory Committee and the Graduate Office. At least five members of the faculty (including the members of the student’s Advisory Committee) must attend the defense. Only members of the Advisory Committee, however, may actually recommend passing or failing the student.
According to the Graduate School catalog, the dissertation should represent a significant contribution to ongoing research in the candidate’s field. While the Graduate School does not stipulate a minimum length for dissertations, the Graduate Executive Committee strongly suggests a minimum length of 60,000 words inclusive for a traditional dissertation in English (not a creative dissertation or a “born-digital” DH dissertation). The committee suggests this length as representing approximately 2/3 of the standard length of an academic monograph according to current publication practices. Students who wish to complete a creative dissertation, a “born-digital” dissertation, or a project in a format other than a collection of textual chapters should consult with their advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.
Students must schedule the dissertation defense with the Graduate Office and Advisory Committee at least three months ahead of time. Electronic copies of the dissertation should be distributed at least three weeks prior to the defense: to each Advisory Committee member and to department representatives. The student must also notify the UConn Events Calendar two weeks in advance. For further information, see this helpful guide from the Graduate School.
Annual Review of Progress toward Degree
Beginning in their first semester following the completion of coursework, MA/Ph.D. and Ph.D. students must annually report their progress by completing an Annual Review of Progress toward Degree, including a self-evaluation and a response from their major advisor. Neither evaluation need exceed 250 words. These evaluations are reviewed each spring semester by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) in consultation with the Associate Director of Graduate Studies (ADGS). In the preparation for the review, students and their major advisors should consult with one another about the students’ achievements, progress, and any potential delays over the previous academic year. The review is due to the Graduate Office no later than April 1. Please see the form for submission instructions.
For students in the first year following the completion of coursework, satisfactory progress is measured by the student and major advisor in terms of their preparation for and writing of their PhD examinations, which should be taken ideally in the late fall of the third year for Ph.D. students or the fourth year for MA/Ph.D. students but no later than February 28, unless the student has arranged an extension with their advisory committee and the DGS. Subsequent reviews focus on the remaining milestones in the program. For example, students should plan to complete their dissertation prospectus and prospectus colloquium by the end of the spring semester in the third year for Ph.D. students or the fourth year for MA/Ph.D. students and plan to fulfill the language requirement by the time of the prospectus colloquium. Note that students can consult with their major advisors and/or the DGS to request extensions on these deadlines, which are designed to help students complete their degree within funding.
For students who are ABD, the Review of Progress toward Degree should focus on the dissertation. The self-evaluation from the student should record milestones achieved and set forth research and writing accomplished since the last evaluation as well as research and writing plans for the next twelve months.
If the student’s review raises concerns about their progress, the DGS will arrange a meeting with the student to devise a plan for moving forward.
Second-Year Review of MA Degree (MA/Ph.D. Track Only)
All MA/Ph.D. students must submit materials to the Second-Year Review Committee in the second year of study at UConn; the review will take place in the spring semester. Candidates will be evaluated according to four criteria:
the completion of at least 30 credits of coursework by the end of the review semester;
the maintenance of a minimum 3.5 GPA;
the persuasiveness of a 1,000-word (maximum) research statement, which references the candidate’s intellectual and professional development and future plans;
the quality of a seminar paper that best demonstrates the abilities of its author;
Students must also submit two written evaluations, one from the candidate’s current advisor and another from a faculty member with whom the candidate has worked in seminar. The personal statement, writing sample, and evaluation by the faculty members must be submitted by February 10th.
The Second-Year Review Committee will generate a written response for each candidate, the results of which will be conveyed in a meeting between the candidate and the Director of Graduate Studies. Candidates earning a “Pass” will receive an MA degree and move onto the next phase of Ph.D. work. Students who earn a “Low Pass” will be allowed to submit—by July 1—a revised portfolio for reconsideration. Students who fail a second time will receive their MA but will not go onto the PhD. Students who “Fail” will receive an MA degree but will not be invited to continue in the Ph.D. program.
Job Training and Professional Development
In the semester prior to submitting applications for a job, contact the Director of Graduate Studies to announce your intentions to go on the job market. The department runs annual meetings on CV and cover letter writing, teaching portfolio workshops, MLA and campus interviewing, etc. The Executive Committee recommends that Ph.D. students attend all of them.