graduate program / timeline & requirements

timeline & requirements

The PhD program in Rhetoric provides a framework in which students develop the expertise necessary to produce a doctoral dissertation that meets the high standards of graduate programs in this institution. Such preparation is an indispensable basis for the kind of original scholarly research required for an academic career. Through its graduate research seminars and opportunities for teaching in the undergraduate curriculum, the Rhetoric doctoral program aims at training scholars who are prepared to make valuable contributions to the discipline in scholarship and teaching.

Although students are not admitted to work for only the MA, the MA is awarded after successfully completing departmental course requirements, passing the MA exam, and fulfilling the academic residence requirement. An MA Review during the third semester allows the student and the department to decide whether the student will proceed in the PhD program.

Each student must serve as a teaching assistant or instructor for at least one year and is expected to participate in the introductory pedagogy seminar (Rhetoric 300A).


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Progress to PhD

 Timeline: By end of semester

* Rhetoric 200, 205 and 2 other Rhetoric seminars - Semester 2
* MA exam - Semester 3
* One language requirement fulfilled;set up Advisory Committee; MA Review; advance to candidacy for MA - Semester 3
* Second language requirement fulfilled - Semester 5
* Three fields established, committee members chosen (four), book lists negotiated - Semester 5
* Written and oral qualifying exams, advancement to candidacy - Semester 6
* Dissertation - Semester 10

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The First 2 Years

Students take the written examination for the MA at the beginning of the third semester of residence, following completion of the required two-semester seminar sequence on the history and theory of rhetoric (200 and 205). All graduate students must take this examination.

The MA Examination is a comprehensive examination administered by a committee of two or three faculty members appointed by the Graduate Advisor. The examination is based upon readings (required and recommended) from Rhetoric 200 and 205 and tests the student's familiarity with the basic texts and issues in the history and theory of rhetoric. Students who enter with an MA from another department or institution must nevertheless take the examination as part of the MA review process. A student who fails the MA Examination may be allowed to take it one more time; this re-examination will be conducted by the same committee that administered the first examination. All entering graduate students must pass the MA Examination no later than the end of their fourth semester in order to proceed in the doctoral program.

Before the end of the third semester of residence, each student must set up, in consultation with the Graduate Advisor, a two-person committee of regular Rhetoric Department faculty members. The purpose of this committee is to provide a structure for ongoing advice about and support for the student's research. The committee will help the student focus early and steadily on future doctoral examination areas and possible dissertation topics. The student will meet regularly with this committee. To cover the time involved, each student will sign up for 1 or 2 units of 295 each semester. The committee will report regularly on the student's progress to the Graduate Advisor.

The two member Advisory Committee will continue to meet regularly with the student for the remainder of her/his professional training. The very choice of the committee members by the student is intended to help establish an early focus on future doctoral examination areas and potential dissertation topic. The student and committee work together on the apprenticeship or tutorial model. The faculty members provide ongoing professional training and guidance. Monthly meetings of the committeeare recommended, two per term required, with regular reports on progress made to the Graduate Advisor by faculty.

The committee and the student work together to refine the student's scholarly focus, to choose doctoral qualifying examination areas that are coherent with the eventual dissertation, to plan out a timetable, and to ensure that the program is completed without undue delays.

The committee provides regular guidance concerning focused course work that will help the student prepare for the QEs and dissertation writing; it assists in identifying potential outside examiners for the student to study with; the committee reads the student's seminar papers, discusses them, offers advice concerning appropriate journals to which to submit a paper for publication or alerts the student to conferences at which a paper may be presented. Advice concerning the art of scholarly grantsmanship in the field, placement opportunities, and the like are also the charge of the student's committee.

Applications for candidacy for the MA, available from the Office or Graduate Division, must be filed no later than the end of the fifth week of instruction of the semester in which the MA will be awarded. The MA candidate is responsible for observing the filing date, completing the application, and obtaining the signature of the Graduate Advisor.

The committee appointed to administer the MA Examination also reviews the student's record as a whole in order to determine whether he or she should be permitted to proceed to the PhD Program. This review of the student's record will pay particular attention to the following criteria:

* Performance in the 5 graduate courses in Rhetoric required for the MA.
* Performance is evaluated not only by grades, but also through written evaluations prepared by the instructors in these courses. Performance in the MA Examination.
* A brief presentation of the general area of study he or she wishes to pursue and, if possible, the specific subject area of the dissertation.
* Plans for completion of the second foreign language requirement.


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The Years To Completion

To qualify for PhD candidacy, each student must meet the following Graduate Division and departmental requirements: 

1. He or she must pass the MA Examination and receive the recommendation of the MA Review Committee to continue graduate study in the doctoral program.

2. He or she must complete the second language requirement by the fifth semester, before admission to the Qualifying Examination.

3. He or she must complete a minimum of one graduate seminar each semester until completion of the Qualifying Examination.

4. In preparation for the Qualifying Examinations each student prepares a reading list in each of the three areas in which he or she proposes to be examined. This reading list is prepared in consultation with the faculty members who will administer the examination. The negotiation of the book lists is important in establishing both the scope and emphases for each field. The student should be clear about the relative importance of the reading list for each field; book lists may be organized with primary and secondary readings. At least two members of the four-person Qualifying Exam committee must be from the Rhetoric Department; at least one committee member must be from outside the department, and the chair and outside member must be members of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate. The chair of the Qualifying Exam committee cannot serve as chair of the student's dissertation committee.

5. The student must pass a departmental written Qualifying Examination of 4000 to 7000 words which will require him or her to demonstrate a mastery of the major texts and relevant scholarship in the three areas of specialization. The chairman of the examination committee will notify the student in writing of the result of the examination and of any conditions that may be imposed. Copies of the written examination will be placed in the student's academic file and in the Rhetoric Library.

Failing this written examination is cause for dropping the student from the graduate program. The examination committee may, however, recommend to the Graduate Advisor that a second examination be administered by the same committee. The second examination must be administered no later than one semester following the first attempt; failure on the second attempt will automatically result in the student being dropped from the graduate program.

6. The written exam is first administered three weeks and five days before the date of an oral exam.  The written exam is submitted by the student five days after the date it is administered.  Approximately a week after the written exam is submitted, the student is given comments on it by the examiners of the different fields and instructed on whether he or she has passed the written exam and can proceed to the oral exam.  There should be a minimum of two weeks between the date of the passing of the written exam and the oral exam to allow students adequate time to prepare for the oral exam.

This examination is not limited to the dissertation topic, but rather tests the breadth and depth of knowledge in the three areas of specialization. Normally, the four members of the written Qualifying Committee also serve on the Committee for the oral examination and the dissertation committee. Officially, the Committee is nominated by the Graduate Advisor and appointed by the Graduate Dean (accomplished by submission of Application for Qualifying Examination to Graduate Division at least 3 weeks before the oral Qualifying Examination).

7. When the requirements enumerated above have been satisfactorily completed and the residence requirements for the PhD have been fulfilled, the student files an Application for Candidacy with the Graduate Division. The student completes and returns the form with the candidacy fee (currently $50) to the Graduate Division as soon as possible after completion of the Qualifying Examination in order to take full advantage of eligibility for fee offset grants and time-in-candidacy. Students who have passed the Qualifying Examination are eligible for Advancement to Candidacy for the PhD, which carries with it reduced fees and the degree of C. Phil. (Candidate in Philosophy).

8. Within 3 months of Advancement to Candidacy, the student is required to submit a dissertation prospectus for approval to the dissertation advisor. The dissertation proposal should be approximately fifteen pages, double-spaced. It should state the proposed argument of the dissertation, survey the current scholarship on the subject, situate the argument in the context of this scholarship, and provide a brief outline of the chapters of the dissertation. The prospectus should also include a bibliography of primary and secondary works to be consulted during the period of dissertation research.

9. The Graduate Division has established a Normative Time to Degree requirement: graduate students in Rhetoric are expected to pass the Qualifying Examinations by the end of their sixth semester of residence (normally three semesters after the MA Review). Failure to complete the Qualifying Examination by the end of the ninth semester of residence is grounds for dismissal. The Normative Time to Degree requirements also specify that the dissertation should be submitted by the twelfth semester.

The fourth and fifth years should be devoted to writing the dissertation.

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Annual Review

Annual reviews take different forms depending on the student's stage in the program. For students before the MA, the MA review in fall of the second year functions as the annual review. For students past the MA who have not yet taken their `qualifying exams or advanced to candidacy for the PhD, the Graduate Advisor and one or two other faculty members from the Advisory Committee meet with them during spring semester to discuss the student's progress toward the degree and to plan the academic program for the next year. After advancement, students are required to meet each spring with their dissertation advisor and at least one other dissertation committee member. The student and the committee report to the Department and Graduate Division on progress to date and if necessary revise the timetable for completion of the dissertation.

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Unit and Course Requirements: Academic Residence

The first 2 years of the graduate program are designed to introduce students to the rhetorical tradition and the variety of contemporary approaches to rhetorical theory and practice. The program is structured around an intensive two-semester sequence of seminars (200 and 205) in the history and theory of rhetoric which must be taken during the student's first year, and three additional research seminars selected from the department's offerings.

During the first 3 semesters the student must take at least 6 semester courses of which at least 5 must be graduate courses in Rhetoric (200, 205, and three research seminars). No Graduate Division credit towards the MA degree will be awarded for courses other than those in the 100 and 200 series.

To complete the academic residence requirements--not to be confused with state residence--the MA candidate must enroll for at least two semesters with a minimum of 4 upper division or graduate units per semester. Full-time study is defined by the Graduate Division as 8-12 units of upper division or graduate course work. The minimum unit requirement for graduate student instructors and graduate student researchers, as well as recipients of fellowship support, veterans benefits, and nonresident tuition fellowships, is 8 units.

Doctoral students must complete a minimum of four semesters of academic residence before taking their Qualifying Exam. Currently the requirement is four semesters with at least four units of upper division or graduate work each semester.

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Grading and Independent Study

All required courses must be taken for a letter grade with at least a B average. Only courses graded A, B, C (+/-), Pass, or Satisfactory may be applied to degree requirements. Courses graded below C- do not yield unit credit toward a graduate degree, irrespective of the overall grade point average. No more than one-third of the Master's program may be fulfilled by courses graded Pass or Satisfactory. Graduate students are required to maintain a B (or 3.0) grade point average.

Graduate courses in the Rhetoric 300 and 600 series do not count toward residency or unit requirements. Courses in the 600 series are graded Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory (S or U). Special Study (Rhetoric 295) and Independent Study (Rhetoric 299) may be graded on an S/U basis or letter-graded. Rhetoric 295 may be repeated for a maximum of 6 units.

All graduate students enrolled in independent study courses (295) who have not yet been advanced to candidacy for the PhD will be required to submit either a brief description of the research completed for the course together with a bibliography of the books read or a paper written for the course. A copy of all the material submitted for each independent or special study course will be placed in the student's file.

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Foreign Language Requirements

Candidates for the PhD are required to demonstrate competence in two foreign languages. Graduate Division accepts any natural language with a system of writing if the Department certifies that 1) the language has scholarly value in the field; 2) the language is integral to the training of a particular student; and 3) a person qualified to administer the examination is available. Deadlines for fulfilling language requirements are strictly enforced. The first language requirement should be fulfilled by the time of the MA Review, in no event later than the end of the fourth semester. Failure to do so will be grounds for immediate dismissal. Students must fulfill the second language requirement by the end of the semester before they take their PhD Qualifying Examination. Ordinarily the second language requirement will be fulfilled by the end of the fifth semester, followed by the Qualifying Examination in the sixth semester.

Both of the two language requirements may be fulfilled by examination, in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate Division: translation of a 300-500 word passage with the aid of a dictionary in no more than 90 minutes. The examinations are regularly administered in the Department, normally toward the end of each semester. According to Graduate Division requirements an examination in any language may be taken only twice.

One of the language requirements may be fulfilled by course work. The student must demonstrate advanced competence in the language of his or her choice by completing an upper division course at UC Berkeley with the grade of B or better. Course sequences of four semesters (six quarters) in a certified language completed at any UC campus automatically fulfill the requirement. If students take courses at other institutions, those courses must be validated by Graduate Division.

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Departmental Records

The Department of Rhetoric maintains two kinds of records on each student: academic and employment. Graduate academic files are maintained in the Rhetoric Graduate Office and are accessible to the individual student; to the Graduate Advisor; to the Graduate Assistant; and to members of review committees. The student's file is usually available to him or her upon oral or written request, except for letters of recommendation to which the student has waived inspection rights.

Graduate students' employment records are also maintained in the Rhetoric Graduate Office. These files contain performance evaluations as well as records on length of employment. These matters are regarded as confidential and are accessible only to ladder faculty on the 1A/B Committee, to appointed review committees, and to the person maintaining the records. Employment files are not available to the student or to any "outside" parties.

The policies for reviewing, challenging, and expunging academic records are described in the department's grievance procedures. Further information on University policy in regard to access to student records and policy regarding disclosures of information pertaining to students is available from the College of Letters and Science. Individuals' addresses and phone numbers are not made available to the public unless the department has received permission to do so. Information such as dates of attendance, degrees granted, awards received, dissertation topics, and employment verification will ordinarily be released upon oral or written request to appropriate officials unless the student requests otherwise in writing. Copies of records will be reproduced in reasonable quantities for students at the actual cost to the department of such copying on departmental equipment.

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Registration Requirement

Students must be registered throughout their graduate careers. The only exceptions are those semesters during which they officially withdraw from the University or are on Filing Fee status. No student may fail to register in any semester without having first obtained a formal release in the form of a withdrawal; failure to file for formal release constitutes voluntary withdrawal from the University and precludes readmission.

The requirement of full-time continuous registration for graduate students is satisfied by attendance in the two semesters of an academic year. A student is required to be registered or pay the Filing Fee, whichever is applicable, for the semester in which the degree is conferred. Most international students have non-immigrant (F-1 or J-1) visas that require registration for fall and spring semesters of each academic year unless they have special permission from Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS). International students who want to withdraw from the University or go on Filing Fee Status must discuss their plans with an Advisor at SISS before they withdraw in order to avoid visa problems with US Immigration.

Consistent with these principles, graduate students must register in any semester in which they are enrolled in formal courses of instruction, or making any use of University facilities, including access to the faculty, except those uses that are accorded the general public.