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Ph.D. Academic Information

Qualifying Exams

First year Ph.D. students take their qualifying exams over Memorial Day weekend every year. They will pick up their questions from Hut 105B, the grad adviser's office, at 9am on the Friday before the holiday. Answers are due back to the grad adviser on Tuesday, 9am. Oral exams will be scheduled for the following Friday.

Preliminary Exam

There are two exams in the spring quarter of the third year. This is a dedicated reading quarter to enable students to prepare for the General Exam and to survey the proposed field of study. The first/preliminary exam is based on a series of questions composed in consultation with the candidate’s dissertation advisor, consists of written essays of approximately 3,000 words, and is designed to contextualize the dissertation topic. Candidates are allowed two weeks to complete the essays, which will be followed by an oral examination with the PhD faculty.

Setting up your doctoral committees

Before your general exam in spring of your third year, you must establish your doctoral supervisory committee. The School of Drama's policy on doctoral exams includes guidelines on who needs to be on the committee, as does the UW's Grad School. Before your final thesis defense you will also need to set up a reading committee. When you have the names of the faculty who have agreed to be on your committe, please let Sue know and she will set it up. You will receive a confirmation email from the Grad School when your committee has been established.

General Exam

The General Exam: The second exam in spring of a student’s third year is the official General Exam.  The exam consists of a detailed précis/prospectus of the proposed dissertation, including a reading list. The précis/prospectus and reading list will also be part of an oral examination.

After consulting with the supervisory committee and reserving a room, students schedule the time of the official general exam on the web.

the system will send a confirming email to the student and committee.

Final Exam and Dissertation

Final exams may be scheduled after the reading committee has read a draft of the entire dissertation. After consulting with the supervisory committee and reserving a room, students schedule the final exam on line by going to the grad school's web site:

After passing the final exam, the candidate has 60 days (or the end of the quarter, whichever comes first) in which to submit a dissertation to the Graduate School. Registration as a graduate student is required the quarter that a Final Examination is taken AND the quarter the dissertation is submitted.

The Graduate School's Graduate Registration Waiver Fee - an optional fee ($250) paid in lieu of registration. It is available to qualifying students for a 2 week period directly following the quarter in which all Graduate School and graduate program degree requirements are met. Qualifying students who pay this fee will graduate in the quarter following the fee payment period. More info.

Satisfactory Progress

Students maintaining satisfactory progress are perceived to be doing well in coursework, teaching, and research, maintaining a 3.0 or above, and engaging in all aspects of scholarly life as a conscientious citizen of the school and the program.

Satisfactory Progress

  1. Successful completion of language and coursework requirements by the end of winter quarter in student’s third year
  2. Satisfactory and timely completion of all program exams
  3. Production of tangible research which meets the approval of program faculty
  4. Preparation and participation in course discussions, and completion of course assignments on time
  5. Development of ability to engage in critical thought in both written and oral form
  6. Development of ability to frame and pursue a research project using primary and secondary sources and other evidence.
  7. Participation in Program orientation and meetings

In the event a student is not meeting these general expectations, a written “warning” will be issued by the PhD Faculty, who will meet with the student to determine a plan for remediating the unsatisfactory progress. If by the following quarter the unsatisfactory progress is not remedied, the student will be recommended for probation for one quarter. If by the following quarter the student is still making unsatisfactory progress, she or he will be recommended for final probation. Final probation is used to warn students that they will be dropped at the beginning of the next quarter unless they improve their performance. Students may be dropped after three terms of unsatisfactory progress.

According to UW procedures, students must receive written notification from the program faculty of unsatisfactory performance (probation, final probation) prior to being dropped from the PhD Program. The notification must include the steps required in order for the student to return to satisfactory performance.

Students may appeal a drop. Appeals should follow the process outlined in Graduate School Memorandum No. 33, Academic Grievance Procedure.

For School of Drama Guidelines for Maintaining Satisfactory Progress, see School of Drama Academic Policy Memo 6.

For Graduate School policy on Satisfactory Progress see Graduate School Memo 16:

Language and outside course Requirement

Students must complete four classes outside of the required Drama seminars. In addition there is a foreign language requirement:

Going on leave

All graduate students must stay in graduate status, either registered or on-leave. Apply to go on leave by filling out a form on the web and paying a $25 (*per quarter*) fee. Students who do not remain in graduate status have to apply (and be approved) to be reinstated, and pay a $250 reinstatement fee. On-leave requests are approved by the Graduate program adviser.

Because of visa requirements, international students must obtain pre-approval from international student services before requesting leave.

PhD Handbook

The PhD handbook is updated annually and is a set of descriptions, checklists, and dates to remember.