Program Timeline

Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

During the first four years of study, students complete program requirements such as coursework, the MA thesis, comprehensive exams, and the proposal of the dissertation. Once dissertation research is sufficiently advanced, students are expected to apply for external aid and dissertation completion fellowships. All students are eligible to be registered for up to nine years.

Students consult with their advisors and their Director of Graduate Studies to determine how to complete their studies and expeditiously fulfill their degree requirements; arrangements vary depending upon each individual student's interests, field of study, and prior preparation. All students must complete the requirements below. Individual fields of study establish specific coursework and comprehensive exam guidelines. 

Year One

  • Coursework: Students generally take three courses per quarter. At least nine courses should be completed in the first year.
  • Modern Language Requirement:  At least one modern language requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the first year. French and German are most commonly used, but any modern language that a student and advisor agree is relevant to the student's specific interests will qualify. Modern language requirements are met by high-passing a reading comprehension exam.
  • MA Thesis: A topic must be identified by the end of spring quarter.

Year Two

  • Coursework: By the end of year two students need to have completed at least eighteen courses.
  • Modern Languages: Complete the second modern language requirement.
  • MA Thesis: Submit to NELC office by the first day of spring quarter.

Year Three

  • Coursework: Complete the required twenty-seven courses. Some fields of study will require coursework beyond this minimum. 
  • Comprehensive Exams: Students may take exams in year three if prepared.
  • Teaching: Students begin teaching in year three. Assignments vary depending on student interests and pedagogical goals.

Year Four

  • Comprehensive Exams: Exams must be completed by the end of summer quarter of year four.
  • Dissertation Proposal: Students have six months from the day comp exams are graded to propose the dissertation and advance to candidacy.
  • Teaching: Students hold additional teaching assignments and continue pedagogical training through the Chicago Center for Teaching.

Year Five & Beyond

  • Dissertation Proposal: Students must advance to candidacy by the end of year five if they have not already done so. Students who do not advance to candidacy by the end of year five will be withdrawn from the program. 
  • Teaching: All students complete a capstone pedagogical experience as a lecturer for their own course. Students can complete this lectureship in NELC, the Humanities Core, or in another department at the university. Students can complete this lectureship assignment in year five or six. 
  • Dissertation Defense: Once the dissertation is complete and approved by the faculty committee, students present their research at a public hearing. 

Students in years six through eight are encouraged to apply for dissertation completion fellowships through the Humanities Division, or through an external funder. The fellowship team at UChicagoGRAD has excellent resources to aid in this process.