GraduateProgram Stages

Stage 2

As soon as possible after successful completion of the First Qualifying Examination, students select a dissertation director and begin to prepare the dissertation prospectus. Once students advance to this stage, they may take up to 12 units of English 597, either under an individual professor or the Vice Chair, so that they can concentrate on the prospectus. Students are also encouraged to take any seminars that might prove useful.

When the student decides on a dissertation topic and a faculty member agrees to direct the dissertation, the student should inform the Graduate Counselor. The dissertation director serves as the official adviser for the remainder of the student’s time in the program.

The Stage 2 Exam


After students pass the second language requirement, and once they and their dissertation directors conclude students are sufficiently prepared (but no later than three quarters after they pass the First Qualifying Examination), they take the second qualifying examination, also known as the University Oral Qualifying Examination. This examination is administered by the student’s doctoral committee, which must be formally nominated and approved in accordance with Graduate Division Standards and Procedures before the exam can take place. The committee must consist of a minimum of four faculty members, consisting of a chair and two other members from the English Department and one member from outside the department. The departmental members may be the same as those on the First Qualifying Examination committee, but this is not required.

At least one month before the examination, students must submit their prospectus to each member of the committee. The prospectus must be a substantially researched overview of the proposed dissertation, about 30 pages in length and including a bibliography. A sample chapter or partial chapter may be submitted as well but is not required. It is in the student’s interest, of course, to have a draft read farther in advance by all participants so as to identify any points of substantial doubt or disagreement well before the exam.

The second qualifying examination, which normally lasts for about two hours, focuses on the issues raised by the proposed dissertation and attempts to ascertain both the feasibility of the project and students’ preparation for it. Though this examination concentrates on the prospectus, students should be prepared to discuss a wide range of works that bear on the proposed dissertation. Students are encouraged to consult with their committee in advance of the examination. The grading on the examination is pass or fail. The candidate may, at the discretion of the committee, repeat the examination once only.