Section 3. The MA/PhD Program


3.1.      Course Requirements

The MA/PhD program requires 48 units of graduate coursework (12 courses at 4 units per course), all of which must be taken for a letter grade. 36 units, including 20 chosen to fulfill the distribution requirement, must be completed in the student’s first two years before taking the first qualifying exam, which also serves as the Master’s examination for students in this program. The remaining 12 units must be completed before submission of the dissertation prospectus. It is university policy that graduate students enroll for at least 12 units per quarter.  Since students in the MA/PhD program normally take only two courses per quarter to fulfill program requirements, additional units of Engl. 597, or 599, which require no formal work, must be added to bring units to 12 (see Sections 5.5 and 5.6).  Students should enroll in Engl. 597 until they have passed the second qualifying exam. Once advanced to candidacy, students should enroll in Engl. 599.  Students are, of course, welcome and encouraged to take more than the required twelve courses, whether for a letter grade or pass/no pass.


3.2.      Distribution Requirement

Students in the MA/PhD program are required to take one course in each of Areas I through V in their first two years (courses must be taken for a letter grade and may be chosen from either of the fields in each Area). 




1.  Medieval Literature
2.  Renaissance Literature


3.  Restoration and Eighteenth-Century
4.  Romantic and Victorian Literature


5.  American Literature to 1865
6.  American Literature from 1865


7.  Twentieth-Century Anglophone
8.  American Race and Ethnic Studies


9.  General Theory
10. Theories of Genders and Sexualities
11. Literature and Theory of
12. Theories of Literature and the Environment
13. Literature and the Mind



3.3.      Normal Progress for the MA/PhD Program

The MA/PhD normally takes five years. Students in this program must take the first qualifying examination no later than their sixth quarter of residence and the second qualifying examination no later than their tenth quarter.  University policy mandates that all graduate students advance to candidacy by the close of their fourth year (see Section 3.5 for more information). However, normal progress in the English program requires advancement at the beginning of the fourth year.  In addition, students must satisfy the foreign language requirement as set forth in Section 7.  It is the responsibility of students to ensure that they continue making normal progress in the program—i.e., to complete courses, satisfy language requirements, and pass the first and second qualifying exams in timely fashion.  Students should realize that satisfactory progress toward the degree is usually a precondition of assignment to teaching assistantships.The following scheme shows how the requirments of the MA/PhD Program might be arranged in the five-year schedule: 







2 Graduate Seminars

2 Graduate Seminars

2 Graduate Seminars
Language Exam


2 Graduate Seminars
Language Exam

1 Graduate Seminar

First Qualifying (MA) Exam


1 Graduate Seminar
Doctoral Colloquium


1 Graduate Seminar Doctoral Colloquium

1 Graduate Seminar Doctoral Colloquium

Submit Disseration


Second Qualifying Exam

Dissertation Begun

Dissertation Work


Dissertation Work

Dissertation Work

Dissertation Filed


3.4.      Incomplete Courses

Filing for an incomplete requires the signature of the course instructor on an Incomplete Petition, the return of the petition to the Registrar, and the deposit of a copy of the form with the Staff Graduate Advisor.  Students can carry no more than eight units of “Incomplete” courses at a time.  In keeping with the policy of Graduate Division to block further TA assignments when this number is exceeded, students carrying more than eight units of incompletes will lose their TAship until the quarter after they catch up.  For reasons of fairness, students with more than eight units of incompletes who are on fellowship rather than TAship should expect to lose a commensurate amount of TAship in the future. In addition, Incompletes taken prior to the first qualifying exam must be completed by the end of the quarter following passing the first qualifying examination. Failure to meet this condition will incur the same loss of TA assignment noted above.  Beyond these absolute rules governing incompletes, it should be pointed out that students who technically stay within the bounds of the eight-unit-incomplete rule but let their incompletes lag on more than a year or who regularly carry the maximum number of incompletes will in times of funding exigency—as an unavoidable circumstance of practice rather than of policy—have a lower priority for uninterrupted TAship support than students making normal progress (see statement on “normal progress in the program” in Section 3.3 above).  Students in such straits may thus want to avail themselves of the strategy of asking their instructor to change the grade-status of an incomplete course from letter-grade to “S/U” (assuming that work performed in the course prior to the final paper was “satisfactory”).  The advantage of such a strategy is that courses could be “completed” based on work already done; the disadvantage is that such courses would not count for credit toward the degree (see Section 3.1). In addition, of course, students with legitimate academic, personal, or medical reasons may petition the Graduate Committee for an exception to the rules.

Note: in general, the program has two reasons for linking incompletes to funding‑‑neither of which is punitive.  First, the program’s primary responsibility is to students as students rather than as teaching assistants; where it is evident that a student is unable to complete a significant number of courses, the program is compelled to relieve the student of extra teaching work until coursework is back on track.  Second, while the program tries to make its funding go as far as possible to as many students as possible, in a scarce-resources universe there must be some criteria for prioritizing funding; and the most ethical and rational criterion‑‑as well as the one that gives students the most self-determination‑‑is “normal progress.”  The timely completion of coursework is a crucial factor in making normal progress in the program.

3.5       Time to Degree

Time to degree is the number of quarters considered to be reasonable by the faculty of an individual department for completion of a doctorate by a full-time student in that program. Time to degree (set by Graduate Division) should not be confused with Normal Progress (set by the English Department).  The Graduate Division has set our time to degree as 21 quarters to degree completion  Furthermore, students are required to advance to candidacy within 12 quarters of entering the program.  Only Fall, Winter & Spring count toward your quarter total; Summer does not.   Students beyond normative time lose priority for central and departmental funding, and can be denied funding and/or student employment (TAships) at the university.

When students must deal with emergencies that prevent them from pursuing their graduate studies for an extended period of time, they may usually extend their time to degree by petitioning for a leave of absence. When students take an approved leave of absence for medical, family emergency, military service, or pregnancy/parenting reasons, Graduate Division will extend the student's time to degree by one quarter at a time up to a maximum of three quarters of leave. More leaves or periods of withdrawal from classes will not stop the time to degree clock; the deadline stands. Quarters of In Absentia Registration and the Filing Fee Quarter of Leave count toward expiration of a student's time to degree clock.

3.6       PhD Classification

Graduate students are classified by the registrar’s office in three categories based on their level of advancement and/or time in the program.  This classification is independent of departmental or university time to degree.  Most students are either P1- graduate student (not ABD) or P2- graduate student advanced to candidacy.  Once you advance to candidacy, you have three years (9 quarters) to complete your degree.  If you do not file your dissertation at the end of the 9th quarter, you are converted to P3 status.  Students in P3 status are not eligible to apply for central funding, and students who will enter P3 in the middle of an academic year are not eligible to apply for yearlong central funding. 

PhD Classification:

  • P1 Status (Not advanced):
    • Assigned by Registrar
    • Eligible to apply for central funding
    • Eligible to apply for extramural funding
    • Eligible to apply for employment (e.g. TAship)
  • P2 Status (Advanced):
    • Assigned by Registrar
    • Begins the quarter after advancement to candidacy
    • Eligible to apply for central funding
    • Eligible to apply for extramural funding
    • Eligible to apply for employment (e.g., TAship)
  • P3 Status:
    • Assigned by Registrar
    • Begins 10 registered quarters after advancement to candidacy
    • Not eligible to apply for central funding
    • Eligible to apply for extramural funding
    • Eligible to apply for employment (e.g., TAship)