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Ph.D. Program


The Ph.D. program in Romance Languages is designed to provide students with:

  1. A thorough familiarity with several fields (a movement, a genre, a period, a literary problem, etc.);
  2. The opportunity to situate the student’s special interests in the wider context of Romance languages and literature, as well as in that of trends inside and outside Western European culture;
  3. The tools necessary to engage literary issues at a high level;
  4. The ability to examine new and challenging literary or theoretical perspectives.

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with no knowledge of a second Romance languageare encouraged to start learning one as soon as possible during their graduate studies.

The Ph.D. program has five components: course work, comprehensive examination, dissertation prospectus, original dissertation, and final oral defense.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE Ph.D. DEGREE (Coursework, Exam, Prospectus, Dissertation, Defense)

I. Coursework

The Ph.D. degree requires a total of 84 graduate-level credits—32 credits in addition to the 52 required for the master’s degree. Course work applied to the degree must be taken for letter grades, and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or better must be maintained.

Students must complete at least 21 graduate seminars in the department (at least 84 credits in all) beyond the B.A. Ph.D. students must thus take at least 8 graduate courses (32 credits) beyond the 13 courses (52 credits) required for the M.A. Only one of these 8 courses (4 credits) may be satisfied in the form of a Reading and Conference course (FR, ITAL, SPAN 605).

Of the 21 courses (84 credits) 3 (12 credits) must be taken in a second Romance Language.

Up to 3 of the 21 courses (12 of the 84 credits) may be taken outside of the department, with the authorization of the advisor, and provided that they bear directly on the student’s program of study.

Doctoral students are also strongly encouraged to take Romance Languages Colloquium (RL 623) for at least two credits. The Colloquium can either be taken as a two-credit, P/NP course (in which case it does not count towards the doctoral degree) or as a four-credit, graded course.

Graduate students admitted to the UO Ph.D. program with an M.A. in French, Spanish, Italian, or Romance Languages from the University of Oregon may count toward their Ph.D. course requirements a maximum of two graduate courses completed during their M.A. programs, provided that these courses have not been counted toward fulfillment of the M.A. requirements. The total number of credits in Romance Languages after the B.A. must in any case be at least 84.

Graduate students admitted to the UO Ph.D. program with an M.A. in French, Spanish, Italian, or Romance Languages from another institution must take a minimum of ten graduate courses (40 credits) in the Romance Languages Department. The Graduate Committee will evaluate the courses students have taken toward their M.A. and will determine whether additional courses are necessary to fill any gaps in a student’s preparation. This may result in a student taking more than 10 courses (40 credits) at the UO, up to a required maximum of 17 (68 credits).

Where the M.A. is found to be seriously deficient, or has been taken in another field, the Graduate Committee reserves the right to admit the student into the M.A. program instead. In this case students may petition to transfer a maximum of three courses towards the 13 courses required for the M.A. This petition may be filed when the student has completed four graduate courses in the Romance Languages M.A. program with a grade of B or better. return to top of page

II. Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination (oral and written)

Students entering the Ph.D. program should develop, as soon as possible but no later than the third term of course work beyond the M.A., a field of interest that will form the basis of their research for the Ph.D. comprehensive examination and ideally for the dissertation. This special field of interest usually emerges from the selected courses and shapes the areas of concentration represented on their comprehensive examination.

The comprehensive examination consists of three exams (two written and one oral). Each written examination covers a subfield that pertains to the student’s special field of interest. The subfields should be defined and prepared with three members of the RL faculty who will constitute the Ph.D. exam committee. (One of these three faculty members should represent the student’s second Romance language. A fourth member may be added from another department.) In consultation with the members of the examination committee, students create a reading list for each of the defined subfields.

The reading list must be approved by the exam committee no later than 4 weeks before the exam date. Students are responsible for distributing the reading list to the committee members as soon as the list is approved.

Each written exam will take the form of an essay that responds to one of two questions formulated by a members of the Ph.D. exam committee. Each written exam will cover one of the subfields and will be a maximum of 20 double-spaced, typed pages. The student will have two weeks to write each of the essays.

Two weeks after the successful completion of the written essays, the student will take an oral examination. The oral exam will attempt to integrate the areas addressed in the written exams with the other facets of the student’s declared field of interest. In a two-hour conversation, the candidate and the committee members examine and elaborate on ways in which the written essays help to define a project within the student’s special field.

Typically undertaken during the fifth term of study following the M.A., the comprehensive examination should result in clarification of both the subject matter of the dissertation and possible approaches to it. The exam should, in other words, yield at least a tentative dissertation topic.

Students who fail the Ph.D. examination in whole or in part will be allowed to take it over (in whole or in part) once. They are encouraged to do so no later than 6 months after failing. If they fail again they are disqualified.

It is the responsibility of the student to schedule both the written and the oral portions of the comprehensive examination.

With the successful completion of the Ph.D. comprehensive exam, the student will advance to candidacy and begin preparing the dissertation prospectus. return to top of page

III. Dissertation Prospectus

The prospectus is normally completed during the sixth term of study following the M.A. It should define the scope of the dissertation and demonstrate the originality of the project. The student submits an eight- to ten-page prospectus and a substantial research bibliography of primary and secondary material to the faculty members on his or her dissertation committee.

Students are responsible for putting together a dissertation committee, which normally consists of four members: one director and two readers from the Department of Romance Languages, and one reader from another department. A student may also choose to have two co-directors in the Department of Romance Languages (plus two further members of the department).

When the student has a solid draft of the prospectus, she or he will schedule a meeting with the dissertation committee members for a presentation and discussion of the prospectus. Following this conversation, the student will make final revisions to the prospectus. Once the committee has given its final approval, the student will submit the prospectus to the department for filing.

Students are reminded that they must have a dissertation committee in place and proper documents filed with the Graduate School six months before the dissertation defense.

Any student making significant changes to the dissertation project after the final approval of the prospectus must schedule a meeting with the dissertation committee before proceeding. return to top of page

IV. Dissertation

The dissertation should constitute an original and valuable contribution to scholarship in the student’s field of interest. It should be characterized by mature literary interpretation, informed and reasoned argument, and an awareness of the means and goals of research.

It is the student’s responsibility to ascertain the rules and deadlines of the Graduate School for proper filing of the dissertation. Students are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the stringent formatting and structure guidelines for the dissertation (the information is provided by the Graduate School and is available online or in pamphlet form).

Students are reminded that a final copy of the dissertation must be distributed to the dissertation committee for final approval at least three weeks before the dissertation defense. return to top of page

V. Final Oral Dissertation Defense

When all members of the dissertation committee have approved the dissertation, a public oral presentation and defense of the work is held. return to top of page


All post-M.A. work, including the dissertation, is normally completed in three to four years of study. Students entering the UO Ph.D. program with an M.A. from UO are normally eligible for a maximum of three years of funding after the M.A. Students entering the UO Ph.D. program with an M.A. from elsewhere are normally eligible for a maximum of four years of funding. Ph.D. students making satisfactory progress toward the degree are eligible for funding packages in the form of graduate teaching fellowships. Graduate teaching fellowships include stipends for teaching, as well as tuition waivers. Satisfactory progress entails completing all courses taken for credit with a grade of B or better; passing the Ph.D. comprehensive examnation; timely submission of an acceptable dissertation prospectus; and regular and timely progress on the dissertation itself. return to top of page