PhD Program Requirements


Students who have completed the M.A. at other institutions or in other departments at OSU may in some cases be required to complete the M.A. in Comparative Studies before proceeding to the doctoral program. The number of credits earned in other M.A. programs that may be used to fulfill requirements for the Ph.D. in Comparative Studies will be determined by the Graduate Studies Committee at the time of admission. See the Graduate School Handbook (Section II, Part 6) for University enrollment and residence requirements.

Students in the M.A. in Comparative Studies program may continue beyond the M.A. only upon the recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee. At the end of each year, a special meeting of the faculty will be called to discuss the progress of the first-year students. At this meeting, each student’s progress will be presented by her or his advisor of record. (Therefore, each student will need to have met with his or her advisor of record before this meeting.) During this meeting, input will be sought from all the faculty about the progress of each student. After the meeting, the results of this conversation will be communicated to each student by the advisor. The goal of these conversations is to provide timely and meaningful feedback to each first-year student about her or his work and potential for advancement in the program.

Since admission to the graduate program occurs once a year and all applications are due before the beginning of the Winter quarter, all students who plan to finish their MA during the school year and wish to be considered for continuing for a PhD the following year must announce those intentions by submitting the following materials by the same deadline that applies for new applicants: a statement of purpose (not to exceed five double-spaced pages) that describes a dissertation project; a writing sample (hopefully an extract from the MA thesis); and letters from any non-core faculty whose input the student would like to solicit. These letters are optional and should only be solicited when the student has had extensive intellectual interaction with a non-core faculty member. The new statement of purpose should represent the opportunity for the student to demonstrate their ability to build on their MA work and to sketch with some precision the next step in his or her intellectual progress. At the same time, it allows the faculty to assess the student’s preparation for advanced graduate work and the fit between the student’s needs and the faculty’s expertise. Input regarding the advisability of any student’s continuing for the PhD will be solicited from core faculty members during a faculty meeting in early January.

1.Coursework requirements. All students are required to take a total of 80 semester hours, including credits earned in the Comparative Studies M.A. program or credits earned in another M.A. program and approved by the Comparative Studies Graduate Studies Committee: 27 semester coursework hours and a minimum of 23 general examination and dissertation hours (or at least 50 total hours beyond the M.A.).

Coursework credits are distributed as follows:

a.All students who have not completed the M.A. in Comparative Studies must take the following       courses during the first year of enrollment (see Graduate Courses):

  • Comp St 6390, Approaches to Comparative Cultural Studies I (3 credits)
  • Comp St 6391, Approaches to Comparative Cultural Studies II (3 credits)

b.All students must take a minimum of 15 coursework credits in Comparative Studies beyond the M.A. degree. (Cross-listed courses may count in any department cross-listing the course, regardless of where the student is enrolled.)

c.No credits taken in other departments at the 5000-level beyond the M.A. may count toward the Ph.D. degree. No courses taken at the 5000-level in Comparative Studies may count toward either graduate degree.

d.No more than 6 hours of non-graded (S/U or PA/NP) coursework (ordinarily taken as independent study) may be counted as coursework hours in the overall program. (This requirement is not related to non-graded 8000-level hours taken as examination, thesis, or dissertation hours.)

e.All students must include a minimum of 21 credits at the 7000 and 8000-level beyond the M.A. degree.
See the Graduate School Handbook, Section II.6 for additional Graduate School requirements.

2.Language. All students completing the Ph.D. in Comparative Studies must demonstrate competence in at least one foreign language, but some students’ research agendas will require competence in two. In particular, students working with forms of cultural expression produced in a language other than English must demonstrate competence in two foreign languages. The Graduate Studies Committee will determine whether a student’s language requirement may be fulfilled by showing competence in one or two foreign languages. This requirement (for each language) must be met in one of the following ways: receiving a minimum grade of “B” in a 5000-level course that certifies ability to read with the use of a dictionary; receiving a minimum grade of "B" in a 6000-level course taught in a foreign language; passing a proficiency examination administered by the appropriate language department; petitioning the Graduate Studies Committee to consider other evidence of competence, for example, an undergraduate major or minor in a foreign language.

Courses taken to fulfill the language requirement cannot be counted toward the degree. However, foreign language courses taken at or above the 6000-level may be counted toward the degree and may also serve to satisfy the language requirement.

3.Candidacy Examinations. In order to begin work on the dissertation, a student will be required to complete a dissertation prospectus and three written examinations relevant to the student’s dissertation research and general preparedness for scholarly employment. Candidacy exams should be completed within two semesters of the completion of all coursework, normally by the end of the second year after the completion of the student’s M.A. More time for preparing can be obtained through petitioning the Comparative Studies Graduate Studies Committee. All qualifying examinations will comprise three examination fields and be structured to qualify students in two ways: 1) to pursue a specific dissertation research agenda; and 2) to situate the student as a researcher and teacher in at least two significant academic fields. In consultation with his or her advisory committee, the student will design the examinations in a way that best achieves these two objectives. The Comparative Studies exam format is highly individualized, guided by the needs of the student and the advice of the Advisory Committee.

One of the examination areas must be Critical, Social, and Cultural Theory. The reading list for this exam will build on syllabi for CS 6390 and 6391, but may be modified by the Advisory Committee to meet the particular needs and interests of the individual student. The goal of this exam is to provide the student with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of current positions in Critical, Social and Cultural Theory and facility in conceptualizing research questions informed by these positions.

The second and third exams should provide the student with the opportunity to articulate the specificity of his or her research interests and to situate those research interests and general preparedness for scholarly employment in the context of at least two significant academic fields. Before the exam, the student will be required to name the targeted fields of qualification. Advisory Committee members with expertise in those targeted areas will be responsible for ensuring that the examination process, including the definition of the examination fields, will qualify the student to use methods from those targeted areas in the dissertation research, to situate that research convincingly in debates in those areas, and to teach in those areas. The committee member responsible for overseeing the student’s preparation in a particular targeted area may, at his or her discretion, deem it necessary for an examination field to be devoted in its entirety to that area. For example, it could be possible to devote one exam to the specific area of dissertation research, saving the second exam to allow the student to demonstrate her or his ability to articulate that work to two fields. Another possible structure would ask students to articulate the relationships between their work and two different fields in two different exams.

The actual examination process will be determined by each student’s Advisory Committee and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. The goal of the process is to enable the student to demonstrate her or his capacity to perform interdisciplinary scholarly work at the highest level, but within a constrained framework. The length of time allowed for the writing of the exams and the conditions under which the exams are written should be set with that goal in mind. For example, the student could take three exams, one in each of the three areas, over a period of ten days and with a specified page limit. Alternatively, the student could write three formal papers over the course of a quarter, discussing the state of the field in each of the three areas. Or the student could take the exams in a very concentrated period of time, such as in three four-hour exams over the course of one week.

At least two members of the Advisory Committee must be Comparative Studies Graduate Faculty, and the Graduate Studies Committee must approve any members of the Advisory Committee who are not members of the Comparative Studies Graduate Faculty. A two-hour Oral Examination is required by the Graduate School and must take place within one month of completion of the written portion of the examination. 

The outcome of the Candidacy Examination is reached in the absence of the student. The decision to judge the examination satisfactory or unsatisfactory must be unanimous and all examiners must sign the Candidacy Examination Report affirming that vote. Satisfactory completion of the Candidacy Examination indicates the student is deemed sufficiently prepared to undertake dissertation research, and the student then proceeds to candidacy for the Ph.D. If the Candidacy Examination Committee finds the student’s performance unsatisfactory, the examination may be retaken with the approval of the Graduate School. No substitutions may be made on the student’s Candidacy Examination Committee if a second examination is required and a second oral examination must be scheduled.

See the Graduate School Handbook, Sections II.6 and V.8 for additional details about the scheduling process and examination procedures.

4.Dissertation. Soon after the successful completion of the exams (normally within two quarters), the student must develop a dissertation committee (which might be the same as the Advisory Committee, but need not be) and submit a dissertation prospectus. This prospectus should outline a research problem, indicate the research problem’s theoretical significance, briefly review the most relevant past and current scholarship relating to the problem, and identify a relevant theoretical framework and research strategy. The dissertation committee will determine the proper length for each student’s prospectus, but it should typically consist of a minimum of fifteen and a maximum of thirty pages. The dissertation committee will determine the extent to which the prospectus represents a comprehensive and comprehensible plan for the completion of the dissertation.

The dissertation is a scholarly document requiring independent research under the guidance of faculty advisors. It should demonstrate the student’s competence in interdisciplinary research and should demonstrate strong potential for future publication. The dissertation must be completed within five years of completing the Candidacy Examination. The dissertation advisor must be a member of the Graduate Faculty or Associated Faculty of Comparative Studies, or be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School for Graduate Faculty status in Comparative Studies. The Dissertation Committee must include a minimum of three members, at least two from the Comparative Studies Graduate Faculty. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the Comparative Studies Ph.D. program, most students will choose one or two additional committee members. All members of the Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Comparative Studies Graduate Studies Committee.

All students are required to take a Final Oral Examination of approximately two hours. The Final Oral Examination Committee includes all members of the Dissertation Committee and a Graduate Faculty Representative appointed by the Graduate School. Before Friday of the second week of the quarter in which the Final Oral Examination is to be taken, the student must submit to the Graduate School a typed, properly formatted copy of the Dissertation, along with a signed Application to Graduate form and Doctoral Draft Approval/Notification of Final Oral Examination form.

See the Graduate School Handbook, Section II.6 and V.8 for additional details.

5.Advisers. The Graduate Studies Chair or a designated member of the Graduate Studies Committee will serve as adviser for incoming students, but each student must choose at least one academic adviser from the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Comparative Studies by the end of the first year of graduate study. Additional advisers to serve on the Advisory Committee for Candidacy Exams may be chosen from Comparative Studies regular and associated faculty. If a student wishes to choose an adviser from an academic unit represented in the student’s curriculum but who is not a member of the Comparative Studies associated faculty, that adviser must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School for graduate faculty status in Comparative Studies.

In most cases, the dissertation adviser will be a member of the student’s Candidacy Examination Committee. Any change of the dissertation adviser requires the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School.

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