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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

The course requirements for the PhD are as follows:

For students entering with an MA from UT American Studies
At least 12 hours required:

  • 6 hours: two additional AMS 390 research seminars
  • 6 hours: elective courses (non-conference courses); may be AMS or outside department
    additional hours as required by the graduate adviser

For students entering with an MA or its equivalent from a different graduate program
At least 21 hours required:

  • 6 hours: AMS 385 (Cultural History of the Unites States to 1865) and AMS 386 (Cultural History of the United States since 1865)
  • 3 hours: AMS 393 (Bibliography and Methods)
  • 6 hours: two AMS 390 research seminars
  • 6 hours: elective courses (non-conference courses); may be AMS or outside department
    Note: Additional hours as required by the graduate adviser

Both students with an MA from UT and from a different graduate program will need to take one additional course apart from the above requirements. AMS 398T, “Supervised Teaching in American Studies,” is a three credit course required of all students who wish to teach their own course as an Assistant Instructor (AI). This course is typically taken when students are studying for orals (see below).

FOREIGN LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT

A student must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language before advancing to candidacy; ideally, this should take place before the oral examination. One way to fulfill this requirement is by passing a translation test that will be evaluated by a reader proficient in the chosen language. The graduate coordinator has a list of contacts in various language departments.

The other options for the foreign language requirement include:
(Note that 301 courses mentioned below are for reading comprehension only.)

Spanish
1. SPN 301 with a grade of at least a B. This course is offered on a letter grade basis only.
OR
2. A score of at least 56 on the Spanish CLEP placement test
OR
3. Four semesters of the conversational sequence with at least a B
average, or satisfactory completion of a translation test

French
1. FR 301. Since this course is offered on a credit/no credit basis only, you will need documentation from the instructor showing that you earned at least a B. Alternately, you can register for FR 310L (4th semester reading comprehension) with a grade of at least a B.
OR
2. A score of 600 on the Princeton French Language placement test
OR
3. Four semesters of the conversational sequence with at least a B
average

German
1. GER 301. Since this course is offered on a credit/no credit basis only, you will need documentation from the instructor showing that you earned at least a B.
OR
2. Take 4 semesters of the conversation sequence with at least a B average.

Other Languages
Discuss with the graduate adviser.

If you have taken four semesters of a foreign language as an undergraduate, or if you are a native speaker of a foreign language, discuss this with the graduate advisor.

QUALIFYING ORAL EXAMINATION FOR THE PHD

After completing coursework and the foreign language requirement, a student focuses on studying for the oral examination. Students should begin reading informally for orals before they have completed their coursework. Please note: Coursework is only “complete” when the graduate adviser and prospective orals committee members believe that a student is fully prepared for independent reading in relevant fields.

Students who enter the program with an MA should expect to take the oral exam no later than their fourth long semester. Students who earn the MA in this program should expect to take the oral exam by the third long semester after receiving the MA. The purpose of the oral examination is to determine the depth and breadth of a student’s knowledge in four areas of study. The exam takes about two hours with 30 minutes of questions in each field.

With the advice of relevant members of the Graduate Studies Committee and the written approval of the Graduate Program Committee, a student selects four fields and the appropriate four examiners. Many professors have standard oral reading lists for their fields, which should be thoroughly covered in preparation for the exam. Other professors create individual reading lists for specific students. Seventy-five books and articles is the standard limit for most fields. Note that lists are not allowed to be used during the oral exam.

Fields
1. American Studies, with a member of the American Studies core faculty serving as the orals committee chair. This field is mandatory.

2-3. Two disciplinary or interdisciplinary fields of American content. These fields, which are both historical and disciplinary in scope, may include such diverse areas as:

Anthropology :: Education :: Material Culture :: Architecture :: Environ. Studies :: Music :: Art History :: Geography :: Philosophy :: Business :: History :: Popular Culture :: Communications :: Law :: Sociology :: Ethnic/Racial Studies :: Literature :: Women’s Studies

4. The fourth field might be a “Dissertation Reading” field, which would be a review of the literature relevant to the anticipated dissertation topic. The fourth field can also be a disciplinary field. With the graduate adviser’s approval, the fourth field can be also defined as an “outside area.” An “outside area” may be:

  • more limited in scope than an academic discipline,
  • primarily methodological,
  • not primarily American in content,
  • an interdisciplinary concentration

Committee
The professors administering the oral exam are usually members of the graduate faculty of UT, although on occasion adjunct UT faculty may be members, and in special circumstances an examiner may be brought in from outside UT. Two of the four members of this committee must be from the American Studies core faculty. All orals committees must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee.

Conference Course
The graduate conference course, AMS 392, is primarily designed for a student who is preparing for orals. Defined as a “reading course,” it gives a PhD student three hours of credit (on a credit/ no credit basis) for studying for the oral exam. Specific requirements must be arranged for each course with the supervising faculty member.

How to set up the oral exam
When a student and the four committee members think preparation is complete, the student should inform the graduate coordinator, who will schedule the exam.

Passing the oral
In order to complete the oral exam, a student must pass in American Studies and at least two other fields, including one that the student has defined as the “major field.” If the result is unsatisfactory, a student may petition the examining committee for the opportunity to retake the exam.

THE DISSERTATION

The dissertation prospectus meeting
After passing the oral exam, and before applying for doctoral candidacy, a student must write a dissertation prospectus and meet with his/her committee members. The prospectus meeting is not an exam, a defense, or another orals but rather, an opportunity to discuss the proposed research plan. A student spends a couple of months doing preliminary research, compiling a listing of manuscript archives and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and thinking about the questions the research is intended to address, and what sort of book it might yield. Then the student writes a proposal outlining the topic, suggesting major research questions, describing a possible list of topics or table of contents, and discussing the strategies, methods, and sources to be employed. There is no particular length requirement, however the prospectus typically runs 20-30 pages. This is then circulated among the proposed dissertation committee members.

The meeting itself is usually a relatively informal setting, in which the student briefly describes the project, and then all present engage in a discussion of the topic. The meeting, which lasts approximately 1-2 hours, should be a brainstorming session that yields much for the student in the way of archival and bibliographical suggestions, possible problems that might arise, and interpretations from many different perspectives. It is required that the student schedule the meeting within the long semester following the completion of the oral exam.

An American Studies dissertation must, at a minimum, involve interdisciplinary research and constitute an original contribution to knowledge. Any student contemplating an academic career should conceive of the dissertation as a publishable book manuscript.

The dissertation committee
A dissertation committee must have five members, at least two of whom, including the supervisor, must be from the American Studies core faculty. At least one additional member must be from the Graduate Studies Committee, which includes not only the core faculty but also numerous professors from other departments. One member must be from outside both the core faculty and the GSC. With the permission of the graduate adviser and the Dean of Graduate Studies, a student may elect to have a sixth member appointed from outside UT. A dissertation committee is not necessarily composed of the same professors who served on the qualifying orals committee. In conjunction with the supervisor and the graduate adviser, a student should choose individuals who will bring varying sets of perspectives and specialties to the project. Committees must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee.

The purpose of the supervising committee is to assist the student and supervise the research and construction of the dissertation, as well as judge the final outcome, but the substantial work is the student’s.

Here’s the list of requirements for a dissertation committee:

  • 2 members must be from core faculty (including supervisor)
  • 1 from GSC or core faculty
  • 1 member from neither GSC nor core faculty
  • 1 any of the above

How to apply for PhD candidacy
Once the prospectus meeting has taken place, a student can apply for candidacy on-line through UT Direct. Read over the directions at http://www.utexas.edu/ogs/pdn/candidacy.html and assemble documentation before logging on to https://utdirect.utexas.edu/ogs/forms/candidacy/app.WBX?intro_type=D to submit the application. Student must be currently registered in order to submit the application.

Each student is responsible for compiling a dissertation committee that meets the approval of the department’s Graduate Program Committee. Students are also required to submit a brief (under 60 lines) description of the dissertation project in the on-line form. Your supervisor must approve the description.

A “Program of Work” (list of courses taken toward the PhD) must be submitted to the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee, who must approve the Certification of Academic Credentials. The Program of Work must meet all of the requirements established by the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School, must include coursework that is sufficient in academic breadth/ depth, and all work must have been completed within the past six years.

Dissertation Courses
After the candidacy application is approved by the Graduate School, the student is officially “admitted to PhD candidacy” and may then register for the dissertation course. The student should register for an X99R course the first semester in candidacy and an X99W course each long semester after that. Note that students in candidacy must be continuously enrolled each long semester until graduation. If a student is planning to graduate during the summer, he/she must register for a dissertation course for the summer semester.

The Graduate School requires students to register for nine hours if appointed as a TA, AI, or Graduate Research Assistant. Others, such as international students, students with a University Fellowship, or those with financial aid will have a required number of hours for registration as well. Students with no such requirements or concerns may register only for 399W.

NOTE: A student who does not complete the doctoral degree within three years of admission to candidacy will be reviewed by the AMS Graduate Program Committee and the chair of the dissertation committee. The Graduate School sets a provisional three-year time limit on dissertations, but as long as a student continues to make progress in the opinion of the dissertation director and committee, the Department will typically recommend to the Graduate School that the student be permitted to continue to work toward the degree. If a student has not completed his/her dissertation within seven years of enrollment in the graduate program, he/she will be subject to a review by the GSC and possible termination from the doctoral program. Remember, also, that graduate students may be employed in student titles for up to 14 long semesters only.

OUTLINE OF PHD REQUIREMENTS: CANDIDACY TO GRADUATION

  1. Pass the qualifying orals
  2. Write the dissertation prospectus and convene prospectus meeting (within one semester of passing orals)
  3. Apply for doctoral candidacy
  4. Research and write the dissertation
  5. Fill out the degree candidate form online.
  6. Submit the dissertation to the supervising committee for final reading
  7. Request the final oral exam
  8. Submit the report of final oral to Graduate School
  9. Upload .pdf of final approved version to UMI by the deadline
  10. Submit the required documents to the Office of Graduate Studies by the deadline:
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