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Doctoral Qualifying Paper and Defense

By the end of their third long semester of graduate study, the student must select or be assigned an advisor from among the department's graduate faculty. At the same time, a special Qualifying Paper committee must be formed, including the student's advisor and two additional readers. The student will then gather the signatures of the Qualifying Paper committee on the Registration Form for ILA 394, as well as distribute the departmental guide with due dates and each participant’s responsibilities.

In the fourth long semester of study, in consultation with their advisor, the student must write and submit to the Graduate Studies Committee a Doctoral Qualifying Paper of publishable quality. The Paper should be between 7,000 and 10,000 words in length including bibliography, notes, and works cited. Ideally, the Qualifying Paper will be an extended version of a seminar paper, one in which the student shows critical competence in a specialized topic, theoretical rigor, sophisticated research techniques, and a command of structure, academic style and organization. 

Dates and Responsibilities (Fall 2023 and Spring 2024)

The student must submit the Doctoral Qualifying Paper by March 15 at which point the committee will assess the student's work. The readers will return the Qualifying Paper to the student with written comments by March 29. If one or more readers do not comply with the submission of written feedback by the established date, the student can notify this to their advisor. The due dates will not be changed unless one or more of the participants presents a justifiable reason accepted by the whole party. If all three readers deem the paper acceptable, the student will have until April 12 to make any necessary revisions. Once passed, the student will defend the paper before their committee by the last day of class. It is the student responsibility to determine the date and location of the defense in agreement with the committee.

If the Qualifying Paper is given only a provisional pass, the student must re-submit the paper with further revisions by May 25, and the committee will return their decision by June 8. There is no additional defense required to pass after being given a provisional pass. All decisions will be made based on the revisions submitted on May 25. If the resubmitted Doctoral Qualifying Paper is deemed unacceptable by the committee, the student will be terminated from the program with a Master's degree.


Alternate Fall dates: October 13 submission to committee; October 27 feedback to student; November 10 final submission; by the last day of class meeting with the committee. Resubmission with provisional pass: January 25, committee will return decision by February 8.