Program in Culture & Theory

3000 Humanities Gateway Building
Irvine, CA 92697


Advising & Mentorship

Students are expected to choose an advisor, from the list of C&T Core Faculty, to support their studies and research at the conclusion of the Spring Quarter of their first year. In the meantime, upon acceptance to the doctoral program, and in consultation with the Director of Graduate Study (DGS), all new students will be assigned a temporary faculty advisor for their first year of study. There is no expectation that this initial advisor will continue to work with the student after their first year.

In accordance with the student’s research interests, the faculty advisor will assist the student with mapping out appropriate coursework to meet degree requirements. Students are required to meet quarterly with their faculty advisor, preferably no later than the second week of instruction. Additionally, the faculty advisor will be responsible for chairing the qualifying exam and the dissertation committee.

The Director of Graduate Study (DGS) is also open and available to meet with students throughout their time in the program. Should an issue or concern arise between a student and his/her faculty advisor and/or members of their committee, the DGS is responsible for mediating and/or serving as a tentative advisor in the event a student needs to change faculty advisors.

Role of Executive Committee

The Faculty Executive Committee is responsible for setting academic policy, making recommendations on curriculum, evaluating progress of students, and creating ad hoc committees. Two graduate student representative(s) will participate as members on the Executive Committee. The graduate representative(s) attend committee meetings and will have a vote but may not break a tie vote. In the event the Executive Committee is required to discuss confidential matters pertaining to any individual member of the Culture and Theory program, the discussion will be closed to Faculty Executive Committee members only.

Degree Requirements

60 units; 15 courses

  1. Core Courses (4 units each), consisting of: CLT&THY 200A (Political Economy: Methods and Critique); CLT&THY 200B (Libidinal Economy: Methods and Critique); CLT&THY 200C (Theory from Below); and two sections of CLT&THY 280 (Independent Study), to be taken during Year 2 for purposes of developing a seminar paper into the master’s paper.

  1. Ten elective courses (4 units each), selected in consultation with the student’s advisor to cover methodological, theoretical, and topical areas of study necessary for developing the student’s broader research interests. Elective courses may be satisfied by CLT&THY courses; HUMAN 260A-HUMAN 260B-HUMAN 260C and HUMAN 270; courses from Culture and Theory’s supporting interdisciplinary units; courses associated with the Critical Theory Emphasis; courses offered by core and affiliated faculty across campus; and upon approval by the student’s advisor and Director, independent studies and directed readings structured by a syllabus and weekly meeting times.

Of these ten elective courses:

    1. 5 must be focused on philosophical and theoretical approaches relevant to race, gender, and sexuality studies (e.g., Hegel, feminist theory, critical theory, Foucault, Derrida, queer theory, themes in philosophy, political theory, etc.).
    2. 5 must be focused on objects of analysis relevant to race, gender, and sexuality studies (e.g., global capital, immigrant experience, environmental justice, transatlantic slavery, photography, criminalization, diasporic literature, technologies of surveillance, etc.).

Program Participation

  1. Students are encouraged to participate in campus events including lectures, conferences, and performances, which may be sponsored by the program or allied units, particularly in the social sciences and the arts. There may also be academic workshops (e.g., faculty and student works-in-progress, as well as on grant writing and on framing the dissertation project) and professionalization workshops (e.g., preparation for conferences and, later, for the job market). In addition to exposure to diverse ideas and development of practical techniques, participation in these events is intended to strengthen relations among students and between students and faculty who are otherwise stretched across several units and schools.

  1. Students must TA in a Humanities department or program for a minimum of three quarters. They are also required to take the teaching seminar and workshops associated with the course in which they teach. Students who have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. qualify to teach for Humanities Core.

Degree Benchmarks

First Year Review (Yr 1)

At the end of their first year, each student will undergo an academic review process: Students can complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and submit it to their advisors and the Graduate Program Administrator. Additionally, at the end of each quarter, during the student’s first year, the Graduate Program Administrator will solicit an evaluation of each student from faculty members who taught the Core Culture and Theory course series. The student’s first year advisor and the DGS will review the quarterly evaluations to assess the student’s overall progress for the quarter just ended. Additionally, at the conclusion of the first year, students must submit final papers from CLT&THY 200A, 200B, and 200C to the Graduate Program Administrator and the student’s advisor. The student should schedule a meeting with their first-year advisor in the Spring quarter of their first year to discuss the review of their progress including feedback from coursework and a follow up of the student’s IDP.

M.A. Paper (Yr 2)

During their second year, students work with their faculty advisor to expand and develop a seminar paper into a master’s paper. This paper should be approximately twenty pages in length and near publication quality. The M.A. paper will be reviewed by an M.A. Review Committee of the student’s choosing. This committee comprises the faculty advisor, an additional C&T faculty member (core or affiliate), and the Culture and Theory Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). It is in the best interest of the student to select C&T faculty members that they envision working with for the qualifying examination.

The faculty advisor and additional C&T faculty member will be the assessors of the quality of work. The DGS is on the committee to serve as the student’s advocate and ensure the work is being reviewed fairly. This process is considered the M.A. exam. One quarter prior to completing the M.A. paper, the student must inform the Graduate Program Administrator of their intent to do so for the proper paperwork to be filed.

Once the committee has agreed the student’s work is of sufficient quality, the student will be conferred the M.A. degree. This process is expected to be complete by the end of Spring Quarter of the second year, but no later than the end of year three.

Qualifying Examination (Yr 3-4)

Students work with a committee comprised of five faculty members of their choosing, including one outside member, to draw up a) reading lists and head notes on four topics and b) a dissertation prospectus. Three of these topics for headnotes should relate to the major areas of study outlined in the 200A, B, C core course sequence, and one should relate to the student’s area of disciplinary or focused study. The examination itself will be comprised of a written and oral exam. A student shall advance to candidacy upon successful passing of the qualifying examination by the end of the fourth year.

With guidance from their advisor, the graduate student should take initiative to plan and prepare for the qualifying examination, including selecting faculty who have interest and availability to serve on their exam committee. This should begin no later than the end of the student’s third year.

  • Exam Committee Requirements - All five faculty members serving on the exam committee must be voting members of the UC Academic Senate. Four of the five faculty are active participants in the qualifying examination process (i.e. examining the student during both the written and oral components of the exam). Three of these four active faculty participants must have an affiliation with Culture & Theory. The fifth member, known as the outside member, is responsible for ensuring the examination is conducted fairly. This member will not be examining the student in any way. This member cannot have any affiliation with Culture & Theory.

In the event a student would like to have a non-UCI senate faculty member serve on the examination committee, the student and faculty advisor must petition the Dean of Graduate Division for an exception. This exception must be completed and approved prior to the exam taking place. Please contact the Graduate Program Administrator to initiate this process.

  • Exam Structure - The process to advancement to candidacy consists of three parts: the dissertation prospectus, the written examination, and the oral examination. These three portions are expected to be completed within two weeks of each other.
    • Dissertation Prospectus Format- The dissertation prospectus is expected to be submitted on the first day of the written examination. The prospectus should be approximately twenty to twenty-five pages in length. In the document, the student should be describing the plan for the dissertation including the structure and division of chapters as envisioned at this point. A bibliography will also need to be attached.
    • Written Exam Format- The written exam can take a variety of forms; however, it is common practice for the committee to provide four to eight exam questions for the student to select two to three to answer. Questions for the exam should be created by the entire qualifying exam committee and derived from the student’s reading lists/headnotes. Students can choose to develop either: responses in the form of two essays (10-15 pages each), or three essays, in the form of one long answer (10-15 pages) and two short answers (5-7 pages).
    • Oral Exam Format- During this two-hour examination, the committee, with the exception of the outside member, will have an open discussion with the candidate regarding all aspects of the exam: reading lists and headnotes, dissertation prospectus, and the written examination. For final formatting and expectations, be sure to check in directly with the faculty advisor.

  • Dissertation Committee Requirements - At the time of the qualifying examination, students must identify faculty who will continue to serve into the dissertation research and writing phase. A minimum of three faculty members are required. All faculty must be voting members of the UC Academic Senate. Two of the three faculty must have an affiliation with Culture & Theory. In addition, the majority of the faculty asked to serve on the dissertation committee should derive from faculty serving on the qualifying examination committee.

In the event a student would like to have a non-UCI senate faculty member serve on the dissertation committee, the student and faculty advisor must petition the Dean of Graduate Division for an exception. This exception must be completed and approved prior to the start of any formal interactions, as it relates to the dissertation, with said faculty member. Please contact the Graduate Program Administrator to initiate this process.

Dissertation Research and Writing (Yr 4-7)

After students have successfully advanced to candidacy, they will begin research and writing for the dissertation. During this time, it is crucial for students to remain in communication with their faculty advisor, their dissertation committee, and the Graduate Program Administrator. It is also important during this phase for students to actively look for additional sources of support via fellowships and grants. For more information about securing both competitive institutional funding and outside funding please see the UCI’s Humanities Center’s webpage, in particular the Grad Student Research Support page and the Graduate Student Grants page. You can also schedule a time to meet with Amanda Swain, the Executive Director of the Center and/or SueJeanne Koh, the Director of the Graduate Futures Program.

  • The Dissertation - The dissertation topic should be drawn from a focused area of study, chosen in consultation with the dissertation advisor and other committee members. The work of the dissertation should not be less than 200 pages, double spaced, in length. The final version of the dissertation must be submitted to the dissertation committee for final approval no later than three weeks prior to the degree conferral deadline. There is no requirement for an oral dissertation defense.

In preparing their dissertations for submission to the University Library Archives, students are encouraged to attend the dissertation filing workshops hosted by Graduate Division. For more information regarding the submission of the dissertation, please visit:

Time to Degree

The normative time for advancement to candidacy is four years. International students must advance to candidacy by the end of their third year. The normative time for the completion of the Ph.D. is seven years, and the maximum time permitted is eight years. *

*International Students- NRST and DOC 2A

For cohorts enrolled F2021 and beyond, non-resident supplemental tuition is covered for three years in general - by the School of Humanities during the first year with the first-year fellowship and by the Graduate Division during the second and third years through the non-resident supplemental tuition (NRST) remission program (more details about this UCI pre-advancement NRST policy and for cohorts entering UCI before F2021 can be found here at If a student chooses to take an Academic Leave of Absence (LOA) prior to advancement to candidacy, the NRST remission program will be paused for a maximum of 3 quarters. A student on part-time status is not eligible to receive the NRST fellowship as they must be enrolled full-time (12 units).


International students must advance to candidacy by the end of their year 3. Per UC system-wide policy, nonresident students advanced to candidacy are eligible for a 100% reduction in the NRST for a maximum of three consecutive calendar years including time on Academic Leave of Absence. This reduction in NRST begins with the first academic term following advancement to candidacy. Any nonresident student, who continues to be registered, or who re-registers following the three-consecutive-year maximum time, will be charged the full NRST rate that is in effect at that time of enrollment (p. 17, B. 2)



Associated Graduate Students (AGS)

Graduate Division

Humanities Commons

School of Humanities Office of Graduate Study

UC Humanities Research Institute 


Updated June 21, 2023.