Romance Languages PhD Degree Requirements

The PhD program in Romance Languages is designed to provide students with:

  • A thorough familiarity with several fields (a movement, a genre, a period, a literary problem, etc.).
  • The opportunity to situate the student’s special interests in the wider context of the French, Italian, and/or Spanish-speaking worlds.
  • The tools necessary to engage cultural issues at a high level.
  • The ability to examine new and challenging literary or theoretical perspectives.

Applicants holding a BA may be admitted directly to the PhD program. Students holding a BA who are admitted to the Romance Languages PhD program will receive the MA after successfully completing the customary two years of coursework, MA exams, and MA essay. They will then be prepared to focus on the timely completion of their PhD degree in Romance Languages while also developing the kinds of interdisciplinary expertise (i.e., media studies, linguistics, anthropology, history, philosophy, gender and sexuality studies, ethnic studies) that are increasingly valued among PhD graduates within this field.

Program Overview

Academic advisors assigned to the students as they enter the program will give them concrete advice on how to fulfill our program requirements (core courses, electives and second language requirement, among other items). Students completing a PhD in Romance Languages will have the opportunity to develop expertise in primary and secondary fields based on cohesive themes, disciplinary approaches, and linguistic geographies:

  • Geographies: Mediterranean studies, transatlantic studies, European studies, Latin American studies, Latinx studies
  • Poetics, genre, and form
  • Critical race and postcolonial studies
  • Gender and queer studies
  • Media studies (visual, material and digital cultures)
  • Environment, food studies, and green and blue humanities
  • Language in contact: sociolinguistics, second language studies, and/or language program directorship
  • Translation studies
  • Other fields proposed by student, approved by advisor and graduate committee

With their advisor’s approval and by petition to the graduate committee, any graduate student can apply to fulfill a primary or secondary field not represented on this list or in fields outside the department.

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Coursework for the PhD in Romance Languages allows students to:

  • Acquire exposure to a broad range of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches.
  • Develop expertise in a primary and secondary field.
  • Broaden and deepen their conception of the PhD scholarly project/dissertation.
  • Acquire exposure to interdisciplinary comparative approaches, transnational connections, and minority languages and cultures.
  • Join and/or establish professional networks in their chosen discipline(s).

Besides English and their primary Romance language, students fulfill a second language requirement relevant to their research interests, either another Romance language taught in the department (French, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese) or another language relevant to their research. A student wishing to integrate a language other than a Romance language in their PhD program is invited to develop its articulation with their research interests in their PhD statement and plan of study. The advisor will certify on the PhD timeline form that the student has completed the second language requirement before advancing to the PhD exam.

Course Requirements

Course requirements depend on a student’s credentials when admitted. Students entering with a BA must complete 80 credits; students holding an MA degree in an appropriate field (see Graduate Admissions) must complete 40 credits. All credits must be taken graded and at the graduate level (500-600), and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or better must be maintained. Distribution of course requirements for the PhD is as follows:

  • RL 636 Language teaching methods (4 credits)
  • RL 620 Graduate Study in RL (4 credits)
  • RL 623 RL Colloquium (4 credits)
  • 4 courses in primary area (16 credits)
  • 3 courses in secondary area (12 credits)
  • RL 603 Dissertation (12-18 credits)

Students typically will register for RL 601 or RL 605 during the terms that they are preparing for exams or writing their prospectus.

PhD students who are teaching take FR, ITAL, or SPAN 609 1st year Pedagogy or FR, ITAL, or SPAN 609 2nd year Pedagogy (2 credits), which requires weekly meetings with their teaching supervisor and provides training that prepares them further to teach their classes successfully.

Graduate Courses

Students Entering with a BA

Students entering the RL PhD program with a BA will need a total of 20 courses (80 credits) to complete their PhD requirements, and prepare in their primary and secondary fields:

  • Three courses (12 credits) of RL required courses (RL 636, 620, 623)
  • Eleven courses (44 credits) in the Romance Languages department, usually concentrated in the major language
  • Three courses (12 credits) outside the department in fields related to their research (i.e., linguistics, philosophy, history, English, anthropology, ethnic studies, women and gender studies, education studies, comparative literature)
  • Three courses (12 credits) with the RL prefix (RL, ITAL, PORT or FR), or in other departments if the courses are related to their primary and secondary fields, which may also satisfy the second language requirement

Students Entering with an MA

Students entering the RL PhD with an MA will complete a total of 10 courses (40 credits), with their primary and secondary field-satisfying courses drawn from any of the categories below:

  • Three graduate courses (12 credits) of RL required courses (RL 636, 620, 623)
  • Four graduate courses (16 credits) in the Romance Languages department, usually in the major language
  • Three graduate courses (12 credits) in Romance Languages, SPAN, FR, PORT, ITAL, or outside the department, which may also satisfy the second language requirement

Students who have taken RL 636, RL 620, and RL 623 in the course of completing an MA in the Romance Languages department at UO will be considered to have met these requirements. If the MA preparation is found to be deficient or if the MA has been taken in a different field, students may be required to take additional coursework.

FR, ITAL, and SPAN 609 (2 credits) are a required courses with the Teaching Language Supervisor for those graduate students who are teaching FR, ITAL, or SPAN 101, 102, 103 (1st year) or FR, ITAL, and SPAN 201, 202, 203 (2nd year). It is not a required course to graduate.

Second-Language Requirement

In addition to their major language, students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language that is relevant to their research interests and that will allow them to participate in additional academic discourse communities. This may be another Romance language taught in the department (French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish) or another language relevant to their research (Latin, Arabic, or Ladino; Basque, Catalan, or Galician; Nahuatl, Quechua, or Yucatec Maya; etc.). Students will justify their choice of second language and how they will evidence competency in the annual review at the end of their first year.

Students can fulfill the second-language requirement in several ways, as follows:

  • Completing three graduate courses or equivalent (12 graded credits) in a second Romance language: French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese or RL-prefix course structured around readings in one of these languages
  • Completing three graduate courses or equivalent (12 graded credits) in an approved language outside the Romance Languages department

Students will work with their advisor(s) to plan how they will satisfy their second language requirement and submit a petition to the graduate committee for approval.

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Qualifying Examination

The PhD qualifying examination evaluates students in their chosen fields of specialization and consists of two written exams followed by an oral exam. It serves to clarify both the subject matter of the dissertation and possible approaches to it. Examinations are graded PASS or NO PASS by a faculty committee (the “exam committee”). Upon successful completion of the PhD qualifying examination, a student is advanced to candidacy and may present the dissertation prospectus.

The PhD qualifying examination is a two-term process. At least one term prior to the term in which the exam will take place, the student designates an exam committee. The exam committee is composed of three members of the RL graduate faculty, one of whom serves as the chair. A fourth committee member may be added from RL or another department. The student consults with their exam committee members to determine their fields of interest.These fields form the basis of their PhD qualifying examination, and typically the dissertation. During this term, students will register for guided readings (RL 605 for 2-4 credits) with the exam committee chair. In consultation with the members of the exam committee, students:

  • Create a core reading list for their primary field of interest (15 works minimum) and a core reading list for their secondary field of interest (10 works minimum).
  • Compose two annotated bibliographies (one page per work): one of works in the primary field (15 works) and one of works in their secondary field(s) (10 works). Students are encouraged to include both theoretical/methodological works as well as primary texts, case studies, or data sets, as appropriate, as part of the annotated bibliographies. These bibliographies form the basis for the exam reading list.
  • Work with their committee chair to compose a one-page exam research statement. This statement explains their interests, presents connections among their fields of study, outlines the beginnings of their dissertation project, and offers a term-by-term plan of work.

During the term of the qualifying exam, the student composes two written exams. Each written exam responds to one of two questions formulated by members of the exam committee. These exams should be a maximum of 20 double-spaced, typed pages. The student has two weeks to write each of the essays. Two weeks after the successful completion of both written exams, the student takes an oral exam. The oral exam will integrate the areas addressed in the written exams with other facets of the student’s declared fields of interest. During the two-hour oral exam, the candidate should be prepared to defend the written exams, respond to questions about the full reading list, and elaborate on ways in which the written essays help to define a dissertation project within the student’s fields of interest.

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Dissertation Prospectus

The prospectus is normally completed during the sixth term of study following the MA It should define the scope of the dissertation and demonstrate the originality of the project. The student submits an eight- to ten-page prospectus and a substantial research bibliography of primary and secondary material to the faculty members on his or her dissertation committee. Students are responsible for putting together a dissertation committee, which normally consists of four members: one director and two readers from the Department of Romance Languages, and one reader from another department. A student may also choose to have two co-directors in the Department of Romance Languages (plus two further members of the department).

When the student has a solid draft of the prospectus, she or he will schedule a meeting with the dissertation committee members for a presentation and discussion of the prospectus. Following this conversation, the student will make final revisions to the prospectus. Once the committee has given its final approval, the student will submit the prospectus to the department for filing.

Students are reminded that they must have a dissertation committee in place and proper documents filed with the Graduate School six months before the dissertation defense. Any student making significant changes to the dissertation project after the final approval of the prospectus must schedule a meeting with the dissertation committee before proceeding.

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Original Dissertation and Oral Defense

The dissertation should constitute an original and valuable contribution to scholarship in the student’s field of interest. It should be characterized by mature literary interpretation, informed and reasoned argument, and an awareness of the means and goals of research. It is the student’s responsibility to ascertain the rules and deadlines of the Graduate School for proper filing of the dissertation.

Preparing the dissertation for approval: Students are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the stringent formatting and structure guidelines for the dissertation (the information is provided by the Graduate School and is available online or in pamphlet form). Students are reminded that a final copy of the dissertation must be distributed to the dissertation committee for final approval at least three weeks before the dissertation defense.

Final oral dissertation defense: When all members of the dissertation committee have approved the dissertation, a public oral presentation and defense of the work is held.

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