GraduateProgram Stages

Stage 2

Students typically advance to stage two during their third year and are required to pass the Second Qualifying Exam no later than the Spring Quarter of their 4th year. During stage two, they form their dissertation committees and also prepare and defend their dissertation prospectus by taking the second qualifying (“Part Two”) exam, an oral defense of the prospectus before the full dissertation committee. Successful completion of the Part Two exam confers the C.Phil. degree and advances the student to candidacy for the Ph.D.

Career Development Expectations


Students should take time at this stage to pause and reflect.  Passing the Part One exam is a major achievement, and students should savor their accomplishment.  Students can also use this time to think and plan for their ideal outcomes. Students should be thinking, that is, about what they – not their advisers or peers – really want to be doing once they earn the PhD.  At this stage students should be staying on track to finish their degree and figuring out what kind of academic (in terms of field, institution type, and public engagement) they want to be should they choose to pursue an academic career.   We recommend students take the following steps before advancing to candidacy.

  • Students should revisit their timeline – either in Imagine PhD’s “My Plan” or some other format – regularly, at least once per academic year to ensure timely degree progress and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Students should begin exploring their career options.  The profiles in the “Explore” section of Imagine PhD’s resources for the “Faculty” job family offer a sense of what it is like to work at various institution types.  Students might also consider conducting informational interviews with faculty.  More about informational interviews can be found in chapter 3 of the Career Preparation Toolkit for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars.  
  • Now is the time to begin thinking in earnest about other areas of professional interest.  Besides being a professor, what other careers might be of interest? See chapter 2 of the Toolkit for resources to begin such exploration, be sure to complete the Imagine PhD assessments, and consider scheduling an appointment with a Graduate Counselor at the Career Center.
  • Leadership roles, collaborations (such as in teaching and event planning), volunteer positions, teaching opportunities beyond English, and administrative positions on campus are ways to begin expanding skills and experience, which is something students should pursue at this stage.
  • Students should continue prioritizing their physical and mental health.

Career Path Preparation

During stage two, students should continue …

  • Updating their online presence regularly.
  • Reviewing job ads (academic and non)
  • Attending talks

Communications Skills

  • At this stage students should know what the major CONFERENCES in their field are and begin thinking about attending them.  Students should, with guidance from their adviser and the Director of Professionalization, be strategic about conference attendance in order to derive the most benefit from the effort and money it takes to attend one.  The Graduate Writing Center offers workshops on preparing conference papers, and you can access video from an English Department workshop on attending conferences on the “Workshops” page of our Career Development CCLE website.
  • Stage two is also a good time to think in concrete terms about PUBLISHING.  By now, students know the major journals in their field and can begin thinking about what kinds of articles they’d like to place where and when.  As with conferences, some strategic planning is in order when it comes to publication. Students should confer with their advisers, watch the English Department workshop about publications on the “Workshops” page of our Career Development CCLE website, and avail themselves of resources at the Graduate Writing Center.
  • While an article looks wonderful on a CV, so does a grant, especially one from beyond UCLA.  Stage 2 is an excellent time to explore EXTERNAL FUNDING.  Students can use the UCLA GRAPES Database (Graduate PostDoc Extramural Support) to search for funding opportunities and should watch the English Department workshop about funding on the “Workshops” page of our Career Development CCLE website.