degrees and requirements
doctor of philosophy
Students working toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree develop their course of study in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. In addition to departmental requirements, students may develop a minor in a related discipline such as Film Studies, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, etc.
course of study
Students need 72 credit hours in total in order to obtain the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The course of study in the German Department follows the general guidelines of the Graduate School at Vanderbilt University.
1st year of study: eight courses = 24 credit hours
M.A. exam after the 1st year of study: normally at the end of the third semester
2nd year of study: six courses = 18 credit hours
3rd year of study: six courses = 18 credit hours
Qualifying exam after the 3rd year of study: normally at the end of the 7th semester
(Students submit a formal dissertation prospectus during the semester following the qualifying exam.)
4th and 5th year of study: Ph.D. project = 12 credit hours
Per semester, one course for full credit may be taken in another department after the first year of study. In addition, students are encouraged to audit courses offered in neighboring departments. Ph.D. students are usually given a Teaching Assistantship during their second and third year of study. Advanced graduate students may be eligible to teach undergraduate courses in German beyond introductory levels.
All Ph.D. students are required to demonstrate reading knowledge of at least one additional foreign language besides German before graduation. Students may obtain their foreign language reading skills during the course of their studies.
The teaching program option offers up to 12 credit hours in the area of teaching methodology (courses, research projects, and teaching internships). Work in this area does not count toward minimum degree requirements; 4 hours is normally the minimum in this program. Students opting for the full program should expect to add at least one semester to their course of study.
All students must pass the M.A. exam before proceeding toward the PhD. Prior to the exam, students must complete 24 hours of formal course work and either a master’s thesis or an additional 6 hours of course work and written evidence of research ability. In preparation for the oral exam, students generate and prepare an individual reading list based on the departmental M.A. list in concert with a faculty advisor. The exam, conducted by a committee of three professors, covers both the M.A. thesis (or other submitted written work if no thesis is submitted) and the student’s individual reading list.
For students pursuing a Master’s Degree only, this exam concludes their course of study.
ph.d. qualifying exam
The Qualifying Examination, taken after the third year of study, is an opportunity for graduate students to demonstrate both the depth and breadth of their scholarly knowledge prior to beginning the dissertation. In preparation for this exam, students work with a committee of their choosing to develop reading lists that cover major literary periods, genres, theories, and special topics. The qualifying exam includes both written and oral components.
After submitting a completed PhD dissertation to the department, students defend their work before a committee of at least three Professors from within the Department of German and at least one Professor from another department.