Program Requirements at a Glance

Please Consult the Graduate Student Handbook for page references.

Course Requirements (See p. 33)

You are required to complete 14 courses as follows:

3 Visual Studies core courses: VS 290 A, B, and C
10 Electives
6 within Visual Studies (VS 295 or VS 296)
2 outside Visual Studies
2 in or outside Visual Studies
1 VS 297: Writing Practicum
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14 Required Courses

All coursework must be completed before you enroll in VS 298A: Preliminary Exam in the Spring of your second year. Although you will register for VS 298A Preliminary Exam and VS 298B: Prospectus Research, these do not count toward your 14 required courses

Language Requirement (See p. 34)

You must demonstrate reading knowledge of one language other than English before you advance to candidacy in the Spring of your third year. In some cases, this will require two years of course work, so be sure to identify how you will satisfy this requirement before the end of your first year.

Master’s Paper and the M.A. (See p. 41)

If you have not already earned an MA in a related field, you will write an MA paper under the supervision of your primary advisor in the Fall of your second year. In the first week of the Winter quarter in the second year, you will submit the MA paper to the VS Director and the VS Graduate Coordinator. The VS Director will convene an MA committee who will read and comment on your paper. Typically, you will be required to complete revisions and resubmit your paper during Winter quarter. The MA paper must be approved by your committee before you register for VS 298A: Preliminary Exam in the Spring of your second year.

Written Preliminary Examinations (See p. 43)

Working with your principal advisor, you will define two scholarly fields in which you will be examined. These fields will usually serve two functions: they will lay the groundwork for your dissertation research, and they will prepare you to teach on specific topics.

In the Spring Quarter of your second year and Fall of your third year, you will register for VS 298A: Preliminary Exam and complete your exam readings under the direction of an exam supervisor. For each exam reading, you will work in close consultation with your exam supervisor to prepare a reading list of 25-40 books, journal articles, and/or book chapters. During the quarter, you will meet regularly with the exam supervisor to discuss these readings. And at the end of the quarter, you will complete the written portion of the preliminary exam. You will have three hours to complete each written exam, which will generally consist of one or two essay questions. You will write the exam on a university-owned computer in a controlled environment with no access to books, notes, or the internet. (See Appendix for instructions on completing the exam when campus is closed due to COVID.)

Dissertation Prospectus (See p. 47)

In the Fall Quarter of your third year, you will work with your Primary Advisory to identify a dissertation topic. In the Winter quarter, you will enroll in VS 297: Writing Practicum. Working in close consultation with your primary advisor, you will complete a draft of your dissertation prospectus during Winter quarter. In the first week of the Spring quarter, you will distribute the prospectus to your 3-person doctoral committee and ask for written feedback. You are also encouraged to meet individually with your committee members. After you’ve received feedback on the prospectus, you will meet with your advisor to discuss your revision plan. You will distribute the revised prospectus to your 5-person prospectus committee three weeks before your planned prospectus defense and oral preliminary exam.

Oral Preliminary Examination (See p. 43)

In the Spring quarter of your third year, you will convene a 5-member preliminary exam committee and sit the oral portion of your preliminary exams. Committee members will have read your written exam responses and your dissertation prospectus. You will begin the 2-hour examination with a brief overview of your proposed dissertation research followed by a discussion of your written exams and the prospectus. When the oral portion of the exam is completed, you will be asked to leave the room while the committee deliberates on your exams and the prospectus.

Advancement to Candidacy (See p. 47)

You will advance to candidacy after you have completed your course work, language requirement, MA paper (if applicable), and written exams, and when you have passed the oral exams and your prospectus has been approved.

Dissertation (See p. 49)

You will complete your dissertation within three years of advancing to candidacy. After submitting the full dissertation to your three-person doctoral committee, you will present an oral defense, which will be open to all members of the academic community. The oral defense will typically include a brief presentation of the project followed by questions from the committee and audience, closed deliberation, and feedback.