Here you can find Frequently Asked Questions about our program, answered by MA and PhD Students in the department. If you have questions not covered by this page, please contact our Graduate Coordinator, Toni Landis, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: If I have taken some courses outside of the Department before being admitted into the MA or PhD program and these courses are comparable to our Department courses, could I automatically transfer these courses to fulfill part of my MA or PhD required courses?
You may petition the Director of Graduate Studies to count graduate-level courses taken elsewhere toward your course requirements if they are similar to the kinds of courses we offer. However, the credits will not count.
Q: After I have been admitted into the Department, could I take any course from outside the Department to fulfill a course required by the Department, especially if the course is not offered in the Department and the course is relevant to my degree program?
You will need to talk to the Director of Graduate Studies before you take a course outside of the Department, especially if you want that course to fulfill one of the Department’s requirements. You will submit the syllabus of the course to the Director of Graduate Studies. If the outside course is comparable to our course and the course is not offered in the Department, the Director of Graduate Studies can authorize you to take the course outside of the Department. The Director of Graduate Studies will write a letter and put it in your file to indicate that you are taking the outside course with approval and that the outside course will be accepted to fulfill a specified requirement in the Department. Please do not take an outside course without the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and expect the Department to accept the course after the fact. You need the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies before you take any required course outside of the Department.
Q: In what ways can I fulfill my language requirement?
The Department expects you to take one of the languages offered in the Department to fulfill your language requirement. If you are a highly proficient speaker of an African language, you can petition the Director of Graduate Studies to allow you to use that language to fulfill your language requirement. If your petition is not accepted, you will still be required to take one of the languages offered in the Department to fulfill your language requirement.
Q: As a graduate student, do I need to consult with anyone before I enroll each semester?
Yes—you must consult with either the Director of Graduate Studies or your faculty advisor each semester before you enroll for the following semester and fill out a progress form. This is especially crucial in a small department like ours where many courses are not offered every semester or every year. We will work with you to plan your course work until you fulfill all your required courses.
Q: When and how do I choose a director for my PhD dissertation?
During your first two semesters, you need to work closely with the Director of Graduate Studies who will guide you in the selection of your required courses. While taking your required courses, you will start getting some ideas about the subject on which you want to write your dissertation. You should discuss your interests with the Director of Graduate Studies who can guide you to the appropriate faculty member that will best direct your dissertation. You may also discuss your interests with the faculty whose course or courses seem to be leading you to the topic you would like to pursue. You must find a doctoral dissertation advisor who agrees to work with you no later than the end of your third semester in the PhD program.
Q: What are the formal requirements for proposals? Is there a set page requirement? Do I need to include an Annotated Bibliography?
Proposals should be detailed and about 20 pages long, with a bibliography. Your dissertation advisor will give you more specific guidelines.
Q: What are the expectations for a Reading List for prelim preparation?
Students should talk to their dissertation director and other committee members with regards to reading lists for prelims. Start by making a list of everything relevant you have read in your courses and for your own research, and then ask your colleagues what they would suggest you add to it, and your committee members what they would like you to add to it.
Q: What are the exact procedures and logistics for taking the prelims?
See our current Prelims Policy.
Q: Do courses I took as an undergraduate or special student (in other words, before my graduate studies) in the Department count towards my MA or PhD?
No, they do not.
Q: Can I choose members of outside departments to be on my committee?
Students must have at least three professors from within our Department on prelims and dissertation committees. For Qualifying Papers (QPs), preliminary exams, and proposal defenses, additional outside members, if included, do not have voting rights. At the time of the dissertation defense, committees must have at least one outside member, and that member will have voting rights.
Q: If I am admitted into the MA program, is admission into the PhD program automatic? Is it okay for me to assume that I am already in the PhD program by taking PhD courses, even though I have not finished my MA degree?
If you are admitted into the MA program, admission into the PhD program is not automatic. Students who have not produced a “publishable” (passing) QP by the end of their fourth semester will leave the program with a terminal MA. Those who produce a “publishable” QP by the end of their fourth semester will be considered for admission to the PhD program. A decision regarding admission to the PhD will be taken at a faculty meeting, based on a recommendation by the QP readers and input from other faculty members.
Q: Can I take my prelims during a semester that I am not enrolled at the university?
You can take your prelims only during a semester in which you are enrolled at the university.