Ph.D. Requirements

Course Requirements

The PhD requires 14 graduate courses for students entering with a B.A. Eight of those must be taken[EG1]  within the department. The remaining six maybe taken in other departments. Students may take up to two independent study courses; additional independent studies may be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students who enter with the M.A. only need to complete 10 graduate courses provided that 4 of their previous graduate courses are in the field of study or a closely related field.  Of those 10 courses, at least six must be taken within the Romance Studies Department; the others can be taken in other departments.  Students who wish to pursue this accelerated option need the approval of the DGS.  Required courses for all doctoral tracks include ROMST501S: Methods and Theories of Romance Studies and ROMST700: Theories and Techniques of Teaching World Languages.

Language Proficiency

In order to complete the PhD, reading proficiency in a language other than the major(s) one (and other than English) is required by the time the student takes the Dissertation Prospectus Workshop. For students in the Romance Studies Ph.D. track, a high level of scholarly competency is required in two Romance languages. 

The faculty believe strongly in the utility, beauty, and importance of linguistic competences beyond English and the language(s) of specialization. Other departments at Duke offer opportunities to learn or improve languages through credited or audited courses, which we encourage students to explore.

Progress Report

All Ph.D. students must submit an annual report on their progress toward the degree to the Director of Graduate Studies Assistant (DGSA). This report should identify the schedule of courses still to be taken, and likely dates for the Preliminary examination and the Dissertation Prospectus Workshop. Once those are completed, the report should specify the progress of dissertation research, identify portions of completed written work, establish a clear time-line for completion of remaining chapters, and set a target date for final defense. On-time submission of this annual progress report is necessary to remain in good standing in the graduate program.

The Director of Graduate Studies will evaluate if the progress indicated in this report is sufficient, or if the report should be forwarded to the student’s advisor and/or doctoral committee with any concerns.

Preliminary Exam (Portfolio)

The Graduate School Preliminary Exam takes the form of a portfolio, which consists of a dossier of written work, bibliographies in major and minor fields, and an oral examination. The purpose of the exam is to allow students to establish their competencies in those fields for teaching and other professions, and to demonstrate their readiness to undertake independent dissertation research. The portfolio format, modeled on the tenure dossier, combines a set of requirements (most of which will be completed in the normal progression through coursework during years one and two) with sufficient flexibility to allow the students to display their knowledge of different fields, clarity of written communication, and evidence of teaching ability.

Dissertation Prospectus Workshop

Successful completion of the Preliminary Examination allows the student to focus on the Dissertation Prospectus. This document of approximately 15-20 pages should outline the topic, approach, and implications of the dissertation project. The completed prospectus is submitted to the student’s committee, usually the same group that participated in the preliminary exam, although additional member(s) may be included. During a 2-hour workshop, the committee responds to the prospectus in order to refine the project, and assess its scope and contributions. The committee can request the prospectus be revised and resubmitted if they deem it necessary. The prospectus must be approved by the committee before full-time research and writing on the dissertation can begin.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation committee meets one final time for a defense of the completed thesis. This vigorous engagement of the research helps students identify future directions of study. The committee may request some edits to the thesis prior to final submission to the Graduate School.

Responsible Conduct of Research Training

Responsible Conduct of Research training is a formal requirement for every master’s and PhD student enrolled in The Graduate School. RCR training at Duke challenges students to engage in ethical decision-making by using realistic scenarios and current issues, involving students in active learning, and using faculty and staff leaders who can provide relevant information for 21st century researchers. All PhD students are required to complete 12 or 18 hours of RCR training, depending on their discipline. See The Graduate School’s RCR requirements Page for more information.