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Ph.D. candidates in WGSS must complete a minimum of 13 credit hours of required WGSS courses, 15 credit hours of elective WGSS courses, and a minimum of 18 credit hours (at least 3 in theory, 3 in methods, and 3 in a field or as an elective) in a concentration selected from an approved list (see below). Up to 3 credit hours may be accepted at 500/600 level. All others must be 700 or above.

Students will satisfy the Research Skills and Responsible Research requirement by completing 7 hours of courses in WGSS (802, Feminist Methodologies; 803, Studies in Feminist Pedagogy; and 804 Studies in Professional Development), and necessary skills and methodologies specific to their field or concentration (e.g., technical expertise in preparing and interpreting data, proficiency in a foreign language up through second or third year). Most of these credit hours will already be satisfied by taking the required courses in WGSS and in the student's concentration.

A minimum of 5 credit hours is required for the preparation of a portfolio for the oral comprehensive examination. A minimum of 9 credit hours is required to write the dissertation.

Total: minimum of 69 hours beyond the Bachelor's degree.

I. Required Courses (28 credit hours)

  • WGSS Courses
  • A. WGSS 800, 801, 802, 803 (0.5 credits taken twice) and 804 (usually taken in the first year) (13 credit hours)
  • These courses constitute a three-semester sequence designed to initiate and reinforce the process of preparation toward completion of the doctorate -- in particular, to provide direction toward completion of the comprehensive oral examination and the development of a doctoral dissertation topic.
  • B. Elective Courses (minimum of 15 credit hours)
  • Concentration Areas (18 credit hours)
  • PhD candidates are required to take 18 credit hours in a concentration as identified by WGSS; at least 3 credit hours must be in theory, methods, and a field or as an elective.
  • Approved concentrations (so far): African and African-American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, English, Film and Media Studies, History, History of Art, Indigenous Studies, Museum Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Theatre.
  • As students develop their concentrations, they will identify a primary faculty advisor who usually serves as the chair of their exam committee (see PhD Comprehensive Examination section below).

II. Qualifying Exam

At the end of 30 hours of coursework (21 in WGSS and 9 in a concentration), students will take a qualifying oral examination (normally at the end of the student's second year); this will decide whether the student takes a MA and leaves the program or continues towards the PhD.

Students who fail the exam may take it a second time but not a third time. Students who pass with permission to proceed to the PhD may continue with their coursework and progress to the PhD.

III. Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship Requirement

The Office of Graduate Studies expects students to acquire the skills necessary to complete the dissertation and to engage in responsible scholarship. Some skills required for students may lie outside WGSS (e.g., knowledge of a language(s) significant to the student's field, certain research methods of collecting information and data, computing skills, laboratory skills and techniques). The student will be expected to acquire these skills by receiving instruction in other units, including that of the student's concentration.

The skills necessary for engaging in responsible scholarship will be acquired in the methods courses offered by the student's concentration, and in WGSS courses, especially 802 Feminist Methodologies (how to conduct feminist research), 803 Feminist Pedagogy (how to teach), and 804 Professional Development (how to succeed in the job market [in or outside the academy]).

Foreign Languages

Students for whom English is a second language may designate their native language as one research skill, but they must also complete a second foreign language or research skill. Graduate students may fulfill their research skill requirement in a language by acquiring proficiency up through second or third year (as determined by the student's graduate committee).

IV. Requirements for Doctoral Residency (not "In-state Residency")

PhD students must spend two semesters involved full-time in academic pursuit at the University of Kansas (at least 9 credit hours a semester for two semesters [for summer sessions 6 credit hours]).

V. PhD Comprehensive Oral Examination

In their fourth year, having completed 31 credit hours in WGSS courses, all 18 hours in their concentration, and the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement, students will take a comprehensive oral exam. The centerpiece of this exam is an electronic portfolio of selections from major written work completed since beginning the WGSS doctoral program, a professional essay, and (optional) a dissertation prospectus. If the prospectus is not included in the comprehensive exam, it must be defended within 3 months of successful completion of the comprehensive exam.

The student's examination committee shall consist of three members of the WGSS graduate faculty (at least two core members, no more than one courtesy or affiliate faculty—these names are listed in the WGSS Graduate Handbook, one member in the student's concentration, and a fifth member from another unit who serves as the Graduate School's representative).

Graduate Studies asks that the student provide exam date and time, room for the exam, and identify all members of the committee to the WGSS Dept staff, no less than two weeks prior to the exam.

The electronic portfolio will consist of: 3 seminar papers of your choice (with instructor comments if available); 3 syllabi of your choice; no more than 3 conference papers; no more than 3 grant proposals

The professional essay (15-20 pages):

hould explain why the student selected their concentration/track (African and African American Studies, American Studies, etc.). In addition, it should identify no more than three fields (Sports Studies, History of Sexuality, etc.) in which the student situates their work. It should explain how those fields might be integrated and related to one another, and what the student understands to be the leading research issues in those fields. The professional essay (along with the prospectus) should be distributed as a hard copy to all committee members, as well as included in the electronic portfolio. The essay should be annotated. This written work will become part of the student's permanent file.

The dissertation prospectus (15-20 pages plus bibliography and a 150 word abstract): may be submitted as part of the comprehensive exam, or within three months of completion of a successful comprehensive exam. It should clearly state the topic of the proposed research, what questions and problems the work proposes to address and answer, and how the proposed work develops, challenges, or departs from past research. The prospectus should demonstrate that the student has a sufficient and critical command of the scholarly literature and the present state of the field. A tentative outline of chapters should provide some sense of the work's overall plan and structure. A tentative schedule in the prospectus should estimate how much time the various aspects of research, writing, and revision will take. If the prospectus is submitted as part of the comprehensive exam, it should be distributed (along with the professional essay) as a hard copy to all committee members, as well as included in the electronic portfolio.

The Oral Examination

The oral exam has two emphases:

A review of the student's program as documented in the portfolio and a test of the student's ability to define clearly and express coherently the state of the fields, their history, future development, and the place of the student within this continuum. The presentation of the dissertation proposal and an exposition of its anticipated contribution to the student's fields.

The Examination Committee evaluates the oral comprehensive exam by giving one of three grades: fail, pass, or pass with honors. Students who fail the exam may take it a second time but not a third. Students who pass (with or without honors) will be candidates for the PhD dissertation.

VI. Post-Comprehensive Continuous Enrollment

After passing the comprehensive oral examination for the doctorate, doctoral candidates must be continuously enrolled for a certain number of credit hours each semester until all requirements for the degree are met (currently 6 hours per semester [3 per summer] for a total of 18; 1 hour per semester thereafter).

VII. Dissertation

The dissertation should be defended within one year after the comprehensive oral exam. A dissertation defense is required. It is common practice to schedule the oral defense of a dissertation before it is formally accepted in order to incorporate corrections and additions as deemed necessary by the student's dissertation committee.

"Graduate in Five" -- Projected Ideal Schedule

First Year

  • First Semester (6.5 hours)
  • WGSS 800: History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (3 hours)
  • WGSS 801: Feminist Theory (3 hours)
  • WGSS 803: Feminist Pedagogy (0.5 hour)

Second Semester (9.5 hours)

  • WGSS 802: Feminist Methodologies (3 hours)
  • WGSS 803: Feminist Pedagogy (0.5 hour)
  • WGSS Elective (3 hours)
  • Concentration: Theory course (3 hours)

Second Year

  • Third Semester (7 hours)
  • WGSS 810: Comparative Sexualities (3 hours)
  • WGSS 804: Professional Development (3 hours, usually taken in the first year)
  • Concentration: Methodology course (3 hours)

Fourth Semester (7 hours)

  • WGSS Elective Course (3 hours)
  • WGSS 804: Professional Development (1 hour)
  • Concentration: Fields course (3 hours)
  • Qualifying Oral Exam

Third Year

  • Fifth Semester (7 hours)
  • WGSS Elective Course (3 hours)
  • Concentration: 1 Course (3 hours)
  • WGSS 804: Professional Development (1 hour)

Sixth Semester (6 hours)

  • WGSS Elective Course (3 hours)
  • Concentration: Course (3 hours)

Fourth Year

Seventh Semester (6 hours)

  • Preparation of Comprehensive Exam Portfolio
  • WGSS Elective Course (3 hours)
  • Concentration: Course (3 hours)

Eighth Semester (5-6 hours)

  • Preparation of Prospectus (5-6 hours of WGSS 999)
  • Oral Comprehensive Exam

Fifth Year

Dissertation (WGSS 999; 9 hours)

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