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Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Doctor of Philosophy

Students are admitted to the Ph.D. program after the successful completion of an M.A. degree in Slavic studies or a related field. In consultation with the graduate advisor, Ph.D. students design an individualized program of study that includes a major field in one Slavic-area literature (any national literature currently offered by the department), study in a second Slavic-area language, and a minor field.

Degree Requirements (detailed further in Slavic PhD Program of Study):

1. Coursework

Completion of at least 40 hours of graduate course work beyond the requirements for the M.A. degree. 20 hours must be in graduate-level courses in the major field, completed in the Slavic department. 12-16 hours must be in graduate-level courses in a minor field (three courses in a single area, or two courses each in two distinct areas) and may be completed outside the department.

Required courses include: Slav 576 (Methods in Grad Study); the 4-semester sequence of survey courses on the 19th & 20-21st centuries (which may be taken out of chronological order), or equivalent thematic courses, as approved by your advisor.

We highly recommend any graduate-level course currently offered by the department. By the end of their PhD coursework, students should have taken at leaset one course with each of the faculty in the program and gained the broadest possible perspective on the field, regardless of whether or not a given course falls within the student's area of specialization or current research interest. This helps position you for a job in the field.

2. Languages

Demonstration of knowledge of a second Slavic-area language and a research language (French, German, or another language chosen in consultation with the graduate advisor) is required before students are advanced to the preliminary examination. The Slavic-area requirement can be satisfied through four semesters of language study or the successful completion of a translation examination. The research language requirement can be satisfied by completion of FR 500 and 501 or GER 500 and 501, the equivalent courses in another language, or a translation exam.

3. Examinations

Successful completion of the preliminary written examinations and defense of the dissertation prospectus for admittance to the thesis stage.

Ph.D. Preliminary Examination Committee

The Ph.D. preliminary examination committee generally consists of four faculty members, three of whom must be members of the Slavic department. (Please see the Graduate College requirements for details on how the Ph.D. committee should be constituted.) All members of the committee prepare and read the written examinations and pose questions at the oral examinations.

Preliminary Written Examinations

The preliminary written examinations consist of three four-hour exams, covering the student’s major and minor fields, and the area of specialization (to be pursued in the dissertation). The norm for the Ph.D. written exams shall be in the range of one or two questions to be answered in four hours. For any section on the exam, there will normally be a couple of questions from which the examinee selects one to answer. The chair of the examination committee and the committee have discretion on this matter. The examinations are comprehensive, testing the student’s critical abilities and familiarity with subject matter and methodology. The exams serve to indicate whether the student has adequate preparation and ability to carry out independent scholarly research and teaching.

1st. The major field examination focuses on one national literature and covers two or more related periods as defined by the profession. For example, a student specializing in Soviet film might choose Russian 19th and 20th/21st century literature and culture as their field of concentration. Other examples include modern Polish literature from 1795 to the present; modern Czech literature from 1775 to the present; Russian Romanticism and Russian Realism. The field should be defined in consultation with the Ph.D. examination committee. This exam is intended to test the student’s comprehensive knowledge.

2nd. The area of specialization exam focuses in depth on a topic within the major field of study or comparatively within the major and minor field. Here, the specialization may be in a single author or movement, genre, specific historical period or event (1917, for example). This exam may be related to the student’s dissertation project.

3rd. The minor field examination focuses on an area of research supplementary to the student’s major field of concentration. Possible minor fields include but are not limited to study in another Slavic-area literature and culture, including Yiddish-language literature; Jewish studies; the visual and performing arts; critical theory; gender studies; cinema and related media; philosophy; history. This exam is intended to situate the student’s comprehensive knowledge and specialization within the broader framework of comparative or theoretical studies.

Procedure: A Ph.D. examination committee is established in consultation with, and ultimately by, the faculty member who will be directing your Ph.D. dissertation.  The faculty member who is chairing the Ph.D. committee will be responsible for assembling the exam with input from this committee.  The Ph.D. exam committee and the Ph.D. dissertation committee will largely overlap, but might not include exactly the same members.

A reading list for each examination is established by the student in consultation with the appropriate members of the Ph.D. preliminary examination committee. The student is responsible for scheduling each exam at least 3 weeks in advance of the date of the exam using a scheduling form available through Graduate Services.

The grading of written examinations is on a high pass/ pass/ low pass/ fail basis. The exam will be graded by the end of two weeks following the exam. In case of a failure on a part of the examination, the committee will decide whether the student shall be permitted to repeat that part, but no part may be repeated more than once. In the case of poor performance on the exam more generally, the committee may decide to test the material concerned further during the oral prospectus defense.

Ph.D. Dissertation Committee

The Ph.D. dissertation committee generally consists of four faculty members, one of whom will direct the dissertation. Two of the members must be Slavic department faculty and at least one an outside member. (Please see the Graduate College requirements for details on how the Ph.D. committee should be constituted.) This committee may be the same as the Ph.D. preliminary exam committee.

Dissertation Prospectus Defense

Following the completion of written exams, the student meets with the Ph.D. dissertation committee to examine the dissertation prospectus. The prospectus is a dissertation proposal 10-15 pages in length, including a statement of purpose and method, a chapter outline, and a bibliography. At least one week in advance of the meeting and with the approval of the dissertation advisor, the student should present the Ph.D.dissertation committee with a complete prospectus. The defense is one to two hours long and serves to examine the scholarly value of the proposal and to refine the project. The committee may also follow up on the written exams to further test the student’s knowledge of the national literature and the related fields of specialization. Upon successful completion of the prospectus defense, the student is admitted to candidacy for the thesis stage.

4. Dissertation

Completion and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation.

Ph.D. Dissertation

The dissertation is a significant work of scholarship of 180–300 pages that engages a scholarly tradition and advances knowledge and/or interpretation in the field. The dissertation should be on a topic that is likely to be accepted for publication as a book by a university press. The dissertation is written in close consultation with the dissertation advisor, who will schedule regular meetings with the student and assist in setting goals and deadlines for work on the dissertation. Students are encouraged to pursue funding for dissertation research abroad.

Ph.D. Oral Defense

Students are expected to meet with members of the Ph.D. dissertation committee prior to scheduling a defense. Students who have made substantial progress on the dissertation may request, in consultation with their dissertation advisor, a meeting of the entire dissertation committee, to be conducted on the model of a dissertation defense with the goal of assessing the work to date and jointly defining the best path to successful completion of the dissertation.

The Ph.D. final examination consists of the public defense of the completed dissertation. Public announcement of the defense should be made in advance, and a one-page abstract of the dissertation provided to the departmental faculty and graduate students. The dissertation, as approved by the dissertation advisor, must be made available to each member of the Ph.D. committee at least three weeks before the final examination is to take place. The final version of the dissertation, incorporating any changes deemed necessary by the committee, must conform to all requirements of the Graduate College.