Ph.D. Degree

Hispanic Literatures + Cultural Studies Ph.D.

Graduation with the Ph.D. in Hispanic Literatures and Cultural Studies requires 90 credit hours:

  • A total of 60 credit hours of departmental coursework, minor coursework, and M.A. transfer credits (up to 30 credits)
  • Remaining credits (roughly 30) completed by Ph.D. thesis hours (S805).
  • Two foreign languages or one in-depth language
  • One minor area (at least 12 credit hours): recommended fields include American Studies, Anthropology, Catalan, Critical Theory in the Humanities, Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, English, French, Gender Studies, History, Italian, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Portuguese, Renaissance Studies, and West European Studies
  • One departmental seminar (S708); S512, Theory and Criticism, or its equivalent
  • Methods of Teaching College Spanish (HISP S 517) is required
  • 18 credit hours in Hispanic Literature (excluding S512 and S517)

Qualifying examinations

The Ph.D. exam will take place during the course of one semester and will commence at the beginning of a fall or spring semester. The Ph.D. exam will consist of the following components: (1) a pre-prospectus and three separate lists of primary, secondary, and theoretical works; (2) three take-home essays related to the student’s lists of primary, secondary, and theoretical works; (3) an oral defense of the pre-prospectus and essays; (4) a dissertation prospectus; (5) an oral exam of the dissertation prospectus.

At the beginning of the last semester of course work, if not earlier, a student will consult with her/his advisor and compose one list each fo primary, secondary, and theoretical works related to her/his dissertation topic. The lists should be completed and circulated to the dissertation committee, and, ideally, approved by the full committee by the end of that same semester. In cases where a student is unable to complete the lists and have them approved by the committee during the last semester of coursework, s/he is expected to do so within the first month of the semester after completing course work. Collectively, the lists should not exceed 15 pages, and each list may vary in pagination according to the discretion of the student’s director. The lists should reflect how the student’s dissertation topic is linked to one or more fields and engages with prevailing debates or concepts in one or more fields.  

During the semester after completing course work, the student will prepare for the exam with reading and will submit a pre-prospectus to the exam committee for approval. The pre-prospectus should detail: (1) how the lists represent a major field of study and the debates within that field; and (2) how the student foresees her or his dissertation contributing to those debates. The pre-prospectus should not exceed five pages, double-spaced. The exam lists and pre-prospectus are intended as an exploratory exercise to help students formulate dissertation topics and to consider the organization of the dissertation. 

The exams should take place at the start of the semester following the approval of the student’s pre-prospectus. The student will write the three take-home essays during the second week of a semester. The exam format will consist of questions prepared by the advisory committee and submitted to the DGS at least two weeks prior to the first written exam.  Students will answer one of two questions given for each of the three exams (primary, secondary, and theoretical) and will have one week, from Monday until Friday, to complete the three sections of the exams. Each essay should not exceed eight pages, double-spaced, not including a bibliography. 

No later than three weeks after the student completes the essays (week 5 of a semester), the student and committee will convene for an oral exam during which they will discuss the student’s written exams and pre-prospectus. If the committee decides that the student’s exams, pre-prospectus, and/or oral exam is not adequate, the student will not continue with the exam process. The student may restart the PhD exam process the following semester.    

No later than four weeks after the oral defense (week 9 of the semester), the student should submit a dissertation prospectus to the committee. No later than two weeks after submitting the prospectus (week 11 of the semester), the committee and the student will convene for the prospectus defense. The prospectus should develop in more detail the pre-prospectus and, when useful, draw upon the oral defense of the written exams and pre-prospectus.  The prospectus should not exceed ten pages, double-spaced, not including the bibliography. A rubric for the dissertation prospectus follows:

(1) Section One:  “Contribution to the Field.”  This section should include a working dissertation title and an opening paragraph that offers a concise argument/thesis for the dissertation. Subsequently, the student should describe how the thesis project dialogues with a larger body of scholarship and proposes to make an original contribution to one or multiple fields.
(2) Section Two:  “Research Method and Theoretical Approach.”  This section should include a theoretical overview of the dissertation project that takes into consideration the following questions: Which theories are employed and why? How will these inform the readings of specific primary texts and why? Will this theoretical framework require an adaptation of theories in order to study the texts, events, or cultural objects examined in the dissertation? 
(3) Section Three:  “Overview of Chapters.”  This section should provide a synopsis of each chapter in the dissertation.  For each chapter, make clear the focus/main issues studied as well as the primary texts (i.e., literature, film, etc.) and specific theories used to study these issues. 

(N.B. These questions should guide the composition of the prospectus, rather than be answered in a kind of ‘bullet-style.’) 

If necessary, a student may submit a revised prospectus and seek approval from the committee within three weeks (week 14 of the semester) after the prospectus defense. The need to revise the prospectus and the manner in which the prospectus will be assessed are at the discretion of the committee. 

The following timeline summarizes the Ph.D. exam process during a semester:
·       Week 2: Student takes written exams;
·       Week 4/5: Oral defense of exams and pre-prospectus; 
·       Week 9: Student submit prospectus to committee; 
·       Week 10/11: Oral defense of prospectus; 
·       Week 14: If necessary, student submits revised prospectus

The following additional timeline provides a template for progress to degree. In general, there will be about five semesters of coursework, a semester for exam preparation and development of the pre-prospectus, a semester for the Ph.D. exams, and a year and a half for writing the dissertation: 
1) Last Semester of course work: student begins consulting advisor about lists, pre-prospectus, and composition of exam committee. Student also consults models of dissertation prospectus and forms an exam committee; student completes exam list by the end of the semester.
2) First semester after last semester of course work: student prepares for exam and submits pre-prospectus. 
3) Second semester after last semester after course work: student takes Ph.D. exams. 
4) Third Semester/Summer: student begins writing dissertation and continues for an estimated time of 18 months to finish
5) Defense, Revisions, Job Market (year 5)

In addition, a written or oral examination may be required in the minor field, at the discretion of the minor department. The qualifying examination may be repeated only once. Write to the director of Hispanic Literatures with any further questions.