Doctoral Degree

PhD Third and Fourth Year Requirements

PhD students take 36 credits or 2 years of coursework before moving on to the Qualifying exams.

15 cr. 5 Groundwork courses. Two of these should be in the student’s area of concentration and one course each in three other areas.
6 cr. 2 Focus courses in the student’s area of concentration
3 cr. 1 course in Methodologies/Methods or certification by advisor(s) of methods preparation
3 cr. Composition Practicum (if applicable)
6-9 cr. 2-3 Elective courses
3 cr. 1 Global/Intercultural literacy course to complete the Modern Language requirement. This can be taken as one of the Groundwork courses, a Focus course (depending on student’s concentration area), or as an elective

Degree Timeline

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Year 1 Intro to Graduate Studies
3 cr. Composition Practicum
3 cr. course
3 cr. course
Composition Practicum
3 cr. course
3 cr. course
3 cr. course
Year 2 3 cr. course
3 cr. course
3 cr. course
3 cr. course
3 cr. course
3 cr. course
Additional requirements:
Demonstrate Modern Language competence (reading proficiency + req. course)
Demonstrate research methods/methodologies competence
Complete Advanced Research Integrity course
Year 3 Qualifying exams  Dissertation proposal and defense
Research Only Mode Petition
Year 4 Dissertation research/writing
(Research Only Mode)
Dissertation research/writing
(continued funding depends on demonstrable progress)
Year 5 Dissertation writing and job search Job search/complete and defend dissertation

Methodologies and Methods (M/M) Preparation

Students must consult with their advisors during their coursework preparation in order to determine which M/M preparation would be most appropriate for their focus of study, and to be advised into appropriate means of preparing for their dissertations, theses, or projects.

Methodologies/Methods (M/M) Preparation is defined as relevant qualifications to conduct proposed research. Because of the wide variety of approaches to the generation of new knowledge in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture, means of adequate preparation should be determined by the student's advisor in consultation with the student and the committee. Depending on the nature of the project, appropriate M/M preparation may include dedicated methodology courses, courses with a designated M/M component, relevant prior research experience, or other special preparation approved by the student's committee.

PhD students should complete M/M preparation prior to the third year, and PhD advisors must indicate that this preparation has been completed in the annual review form for the student’s third year in the program.

Required Second Language Competence

PhD students are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in a language other than English by one of the following means:

  • Successfully completing a level IIB language course (2nd term of second year of college), as shown by transcripts from within the last five years OR by completing one of the modern language courses of this level or higher offered in the humanities department.
  • Successfully completing college-level coursework delivered in a language other than English.
  • Demonstrating level IIB competence by taking an appropriate examination.
  • Formally petitioning the RTC Director, in consultation with Modern Language faculty for a waiver (for students whose native tongue is other than English).

Required Global/Intercultural Course

The Global/Intercultural requirement can be met by completing one of the following courses:

  • One of the Global/Intercultural courses designated on the RTC Course List
  • A 4000-level Modern Language Seminar
  • Another course with a significant global/intercultural component by petition to the RTC Director and Graduate Steering Committee

Qualifying Examination

Qualifying exams should be taken during the student’s fifth semester (third year). Students should have their committees in place by the end of the fourth semester so they can begin the qualifying exam process. The committee consists of 3 faculty advisors from the Department of Humanities. 

Proposal Defense

After the student successfully completes the qualifying exam, the student then writes a dissertation proposal and defends it by the end of the third year (sixth semester). This may be a one-semester process, especially if the student needs to develop expertise in new areas (beyond coursework and the qualifying examination). Students must submit the departmental Two Week Notification Form at least 2 weeks prior to the proposal defense.

The proposal should be 15-20 pages (3,750-5,000 words) plus works cited. Following are guidelines for sections of the proposal, to be adjusted as appropriate for the diverse fields within the department:

  • Introduction—articulates an area of focus leading to a defensible question
  • Literature Review—situates the research question within the context of other current conversations and work in the field
  • Rationale for Study
  • Articulation of Research Question(s)
  • Methodologies/Methods—articulates an understanding of the appropriate means for undertaking the collection and analysis of data, or the articulation of appropriate rhetorical/hermeneutic approaches, as approved by the student’s committee, that will lead the student to contribute productively to their area of interest
  • Chapter Outline—as presently projected
  • Significance of Study—projected contributions to the field
  • Reference List

All committee members should participate in the proposal defense. Following a successful defense, the student must submit the  Graduate School’s “Qualifying or Research Proposal Exam Form” (D4/6).

Upon successful completion of the proposal, students are required to petition the Graduate School to enter Research Mode. In order to petition to for this status, students must have a completed “Degree Schedule Form” (D5) and a completed “Petition to Enter Research Mode.”  The RTC program requires that these forms be submitted through the RTC Graduate Program Office together with the “Qualifying or Research Proposal Exam Form” (D4/6) upon successful completion of the Proposal Defense. Students are expected to bring all three forms with them on the day of the Proposal Defense.