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PhD Academic Policy Memo 6

Revised October 2018

Doctoral Program - Degree Requirements, Satisfactory Progress, Exams And Committees

Degree Requirements:

Students in the PhD program are enrolled full-time in coursework for the first eight quarters of the program (autumn of first year through winter of third year). During this time they must complete sixteen 500-level seminars – twelve of which are Drama offerings and four of which are approved courses outside the School. They also complete the language requirement as outlined in Academic Policy Memo 7 by winter of their third year. Students must fulfill the Graduate School’s doctoral degree requirements – http://grad.uw.edu/policies-procedures/doctoral-degree-policies/doctoral-degree-requirements/

Satisfactory Progress:

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

  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 for 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 orientations 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.


There are four  examinations required for the successful completion of the PhD degree in Drama. 

1.  The QUALIFYING EXAM is given at the end of the first year.  Its purpose is to evaluate whether students can think critically and comprehensively about the theatre.  It focuses on, but is not limited to, the course work of the first year of study.

The Exam is in two parts. The written portion is completed over three days with each student writing for twelve hours total on questions derived from their seminar work.

This written exam is followed by an Oral Examination of up to two hours in which the student is asked to discuss the written material. Students may PASS, PASS WITH RECOMMENDA­TIONS, or FAIL this exam.  Failure constitutes dismissal from the program regardless of GPA in required course work.  Under certain circumstances and upon recommendation of the faculty, one area of this exam may be repeated one time in September of the following Autumn Quarter. The exam may not be repeated if a student is judged to have failed all parts the first time.

2.  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.

3. 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.

The précis/prospectus will include:

  • A description of the project, including the research question or thesis that propels the study.
  • A discussion of the significance of the project.
  • A discussion of what sources are available to undertake the project, including primary sources, new materials, and reference to where materials are housed if "off-campus."
  • A plan to access archives, if required.
  • A tentative timetable to completion.
  • A thorough review of the literature.
  • A thorough bibliography.
  • A tentative chapter by chapter outline.
  • What resources are required to accomplish the study and what are the plans for securing them.

The oral portion of the general  exam is attended by the Graduate School Representa­tive, and successful completion of this exam constitutes admission to Candidacy for the Doctoral degree. 

At the conclusion of the general  examination, the committee will make one of three recommenda­tions to the Graduate School: (1) that the student be passed into candidacy; (2) that the student not be recommended for further work; (3) that the student be reexamined after further study.

If the student later changes the focus of his/her dissertation topic, he/she will provide the supervisory committee with a new précis/prospectus.  The supervisory committee will then meet with the candidate to discuss the new topic, followed by the committee meeting without the candidate to determine if he/she should be encouraged to proceed in the new direction.

4.  The FINAL EXAM is an Oral Defense of the completed Doctoral Dissertation conducted under guidelines specified by the Graduate School.

Supervisory Committee:

Students must have a supervisory committee established before the General Exam. The committee should be established in accordance with Graduate School guidelines, as outlined in Graduate School Memorandum No. 13.  In addition to Graduate School rules, it is the policy of the PhD program that students will have a minimum of two School of Drama PhD faculty, and at least one outside (UW graduate faculty whose home department is not Drama) faculty member, on their supervisory committee.  This outside faculty member may be the Graduate School Representative on the committee. The student should consult with the staff Graduate Program Adviser on the procedures for setting up a committee and scheduling his/her exam.

Exceptions to these requirements must be made by the head of the PhD program.

PM 8206/REV10-18