College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Current SLL PhD Degree Requirements include no specific number of hours, but students must complete:

  1. FLORS Requirement
  2. Second Slavic Language and Literature
  3. Minor (9 - 12 hours)
  4. The Professional Portfolio and the Oral Comprehensive Examination
  5. Dissertation and Defense

After passing the MA/PhD Qualifying Examination, students begin PhD work. Unlike the MA, which has a specific curriculum intended to develop foundational knowledge, the PhD is flexible and open-ended. It allows students to explore specific interests that will lead to their dissertation project. Toward this end, students take additional course work to expand their foundational base further, develop additional research skills, explore various methodologies, and focus on areas of particular intellectual interest. During PhD coursework students develop a sub-field in considerable depth and “test-drive” possible dissertation topics.

PhD training is unique to each student, because each student has her or his own intellectual interests, working style, and professional goals. Regular consultation with the academic advisor is a sine qua non of this period of “scholar-apprenticeship,” because in this stage of study students craft their profile (whether academic or professional) and begin their professionalization (such as engaging in conference activity, writing book reviews, drafting articles, grant proposals, and syllabi, seeking internships, preparing for the job search, etc.).
Students should read “Preparing for the Dissertation and the Dissertation Process” (under Professionalization). This essay will help students think about and plan: a) where PhD coursework should take them intellectually, b) whether or not they need to plan for study or research abroad, and c) how to prepare for the dissertation project so that students can complete a strong dissertation in a reasonable period of time. The dissertation should not be an entirely new project, but the logical evolution of PhD coursework.

1. Met the FLORS Requirement: this demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct research in her or his field in a Western European language.
Most students select German or French, depending on their research interests, but other languages may fulfill this requirement (it depends on the proposed dissertation project). If students have studied French or German as undergraduates, they may take a FLORS exam in the appropriate department; if not, most departments offer an intensive “Language for Reading” course. This is not just a “hoop,” this is an important skill. Students should plan ahead for this (summer study? intensive reading course?), consult with their advisor, and select the foreign language that best meets their long-range research needs.

2. Met the Second Slavic Language/Literature/Culture Requirement: this demonstrates knowledge a second Slavic language and culture/literature.
Russian literature/culture students must take, at a minimum, one year of another Slavic language and one course in that language’s literature or culture. Student research or employment interests usually indicate the appropriate language choice. Slavic linguistics students must have knowledge of at least one East Slavic, one West Slavic, and one South Slavic language.

3. Met the Minor Requirement (9 - 12 hours): this demonstrates knowledge of another discipline and methodology that enriches and expands the student’s research and teaching.
This minor may be outside the Department (history, anthropology, sociology, foreign language, religion, general linguistics, film and theatre, area studies, second language acquisition, etc.) or within the Department (another Slavic literature and culture; linguistics for literature students; literature for linguistics students; etc.). Selecting the right minor is very important, as it will play a role in the student’s dissertation project, in his or her academic profile, and in the nature of future employment. Students should select the minor for good reason and in consultation with the academic advisor.

4. Prepared the Professional Portfolio and passed the Oral Comprehensive Examination.  The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures has replaced the traditional timed written comprehensive examination with a professional portfolio. 

From the first semester in the program, graduate students prepare a Professional Portfolio representing their work. This portfolio replaces the written comprehensive examination. Through the portfolio, students demonstrate their command of their fields and their preparation to undertake dissertation research. The portfolio should be prepared with this purpose in mind.

The portfolio examination demonstrates that post-MA students in the Department have:

1. Acquired the appropriate knowledge base,

2. Developed the skills that will allow them:

a. To identify a research question,

b. To complete the dissertation successfully,

c. To become competent and responsible teachers, researchers, and writers, and

d. To embark on a lifetime of constant learning and continued scholarly evolution, regardless of their career path.

The portfolio examination provides post-MA students with an opportunity to:

1. Take stock of their achievements, strengths, and weaknesses,

2. Reflect on the quality of their progress through the program, and

3. Outline their future intellectual or career trajectory.

Once coursework has been completed, students present the Portfolio formally to their committee. By this time, they must have fulfilled all requirements for the PhD established by the Department and Graduate Studies with the exception of the Comprehensive Oral Exam, the 18 credit hours of dissertation research, and the dissertation itself. If students meet these criteria, they proceed to the Comprehensive Oral Examination required by the Department and Graduate Studies. The 2-hour Comprehensive Oral Examination follows the formal submission of the portfolio. The oral examination demonstrates the student’s ability to:

a)         Defend the choice and direction of the dissertation concept,

b)         Respond intelligently and professionally in an oral interview situation on any academic topic,

c)         Engage spontaneously in a professional exchange of ideas.

Full description of the Professional Portfolio and the Comprehensive Oral Examination is available here. Students who began their PhD studies prior to the Fall 2012 semester or received their MA before that date may choose to take the traditional timed written comprehensive examination instead of preparing a portfolio.

5. Written, Defended, and Submitted an Appropriate Dissertation: this demonstrates the student’s ability to undertake, plan, and complete a sustained piece of original research.
At the time of the comprehensive exam, the student should have a dissertation proposal ready to present to the graduate faculty of the department. The dissertation defense and the approved electronic submission of the dissertation is the final requirement of the program.
SLL evaluates the dissertation according to a specific rubric, which is posted. Students should become familiar with this rubric and the stated expectations before they begin to write.
It is the responsibility of the individual student, in consultation with the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, to ensure that he or she has met all requirements of the Department (as posted on this page) and of the KU Office of Graduate Studies.

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