The PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures is an interdisciplinary degree program that allows students to focus in the following areas of study: Buddhist studies, Chinese studies, Japanese studies, Korean studies, South Asian studies, or Southeast Asian studies. Students are expected to complete three years of course work for a total of at least 36 credit hours at the graduate level. The degree program takes an average of 5-7 years to complete including time spent researching and writing the dissertation. Below, you will find descriptions of all benchmarks and program requirements.
Each student will be expected to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate credit. Of these, 24 credit hours must be completed by the end of the fourth term (second year). Language courses (aside from classical languages) normally do not count toward this requirement. Applicants with an M.A. from another program or university should be aware that their prior graduate work will not fulfill any of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree at the University of Michigan.
Each student will be expected to successfully complete the department's core introductory graduate seminar (ASIAN 550) during the first term of residence.
The Department offers courses for graduate credit at the 500-level and above. Courses at the 400-level are normally designed for undergraduate students. A 400-level course may be taken for graduate credit if the course is approved for graduate credit by being listed in the Rackham Bulletin or approved by the sponsoring department, or if the student, with the instructor’s guidance, completes additional reading and writing assignments. There is no limit imposed by either Rackham or the Department on the number of 400-level courses that can be taken for graduate credit. However, students who want to take more than two 400-level courses should first consult their Mentoring Committee. In addition, students should be advised that they will not be permitted to take more than one ASIAN 699 (Independent Study) course per term, and no more than 15 credits total.
Upon admission to the program, the Director of Graduate Studies will identify a faculty member to serve as the Chair of the student's Mentoring Committee and academic advisor. The first-year mentoring committee will consist of the Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies. By the end of the second term, the student will form a Mentoring Committee that will consist of the Chair and two additional members who may or may not be from the Department. The Mentoring Committee will be constituted by the student in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies at the end of the first year.
Purpose of the Mentoring Committee
The student's Mentoring Committee is expected to assist the student in conceiving and carrying out a course of study appropriate to the student’s interests. In particular, the Mentoring Committee will advise the student on course selection and funding opportunities both inside and outside the Department; facilitate useful contact with faculty in other disciplines; and, advise the student on issues of professional preparation such as conference participation, teaching opportunities, and publication possibilities.
Students should meet with their Mentoring Committee as a group at least twice a year, once at or before the beginning of the Fall semester, and once at the end of the Winter semester. At these meetings, the Mentoring Committee will review the progress made by the student and assist the student in planning his or her program. The Mentoring Committee will also discuss any incomplete course work and establish a timetable for completion. The Graduate Program Committee will solicit feedback from those instructors with whom the student has worked. The Mentoring Committee will submit a yearly report to the Graduate Program Committee on the progress of the student and will also make an oral report tot he Department. A digest of evaluations of the course instructors and the Mentoring Committee will be made available to the student.
In preparation for these meetings, the Mentoring Committee should review all pertinent documents and evaluations, and the student should submit to the committee in writing any specific concerns he or she would like to have addressed.
Before November 1 of the second year, students should meet with their Mentoring Committee to plan for the preparation of the Fourth Term Review dossier.
Changes in the Mentoring Committee
Given the realities of changing interests, faculty leaves, and new faculty appointments, any student may propose changes to the composition of his or her Mentoring Committee at any time. Proposed changes must be communicated in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will notify the members of the Mentoring Committee
Faculty members may request to withdraw from a Mentoring Committee in writing to the Graduate Program Committee. The Graduate Program Committee will inform the student and the other members of the Mentoring Committee of the proposal in writing.
The Graduate Program Committee will make final decisions regarding the constitution of the Mentoring Committees.
Specific language requirements will be determined by the Chair of the Mentoring Committee. By the time the preliminary examinations are completed the student will be required to demonstrate a high degree of proficiency in the Asian language most relevant to the student's research plans . In some cases this will involve both modern and pre-modern forms of that language.
By the time the preliminary examinations are completed students are also required to demonstrate reading proficiency for scholarly research in a second language relevant to their proposed field of study. This requirement can be satisfied by completion of approved sequences of course work in the language or by passing an approved test whose results are evaluated by a faculty member appointed by the Graduate Program Committee. In the latter case, that appointed faculty member would notify the Graduate Program Committee of the results of the test in writing.
By the end of each student’s fourth term in the program, the student will have submitted a dossier (explained below) to the Graduate Program. The Mentoring Committee will meet with the student no later than two weeks after the dossier is submitted to the Graduate Program, at which time the committee will evaluate and discuss with the student his or her progress in the program.
Fourth Term Review Dossier
The student will provide, by a date set by the Graduate Program Committee (normally in the middle of January), the following for the Mentoring Committee to review:
- All of the student’s term papers written for courses both in the Department and in other units of the University. If a course did not require a term paper, representative assignments from the course will be submitted. Students may, if they wish, attach or otherwise submit comments to the papers explaining the purpose or goals of the paper, their more current thinking on the topic, or its relevance to their field of study and research interests.
- A Fourth-Term Review paper submitted to the Mentoring Committee and presented to the Department. The paper can be a revised version of a seminar paper.
- Student's teaching evaluations
- A 3 to 5 page statement of purpose and direction, indicating the relationship between the student’s completed and planned course work and dissertation.
- An up-to-date copy of the student's transcript
In addition the Graduate Program Committee will provide the following items for the fourth-term review dossier:
- Statements from the lead instructors of any courses for which the student served as a GSI about the performance of the student as a GSI
- Records of evaluations submitted by faculty members at the conclusion of each graduate course which are solicited by the GPC
Formal Review with the Committee
No later than two weeks after the deadline for submitting dossiers, students will meet with their Mentoring Committee for a formal review. The Committee should draw upon the dossier to help the student identify strengths and to offer suggestions for improvement and possible directions for research, as well as to evaluate the breadth and coherence of the student's course work and its relation to his or her future plans. In addition, during the fourth term review, students are advised to delineate at least one broad area on which they are committed to doing research. The Mentoring Committee and the student should approach these fields as areas in which the candidates will need to attain proficiency in order to interview for jobs, to teach in a professional capacity, and to carry out research during the dissertation period.
Results of the Discussion
A week following the formal review, the Mentoring Committee will provide the Graduate Program Committee with a written summary of the review. The Committee will recommend whether or not the student should continue in the Program. The ultimate decision will be made by the Graduate Program Committee and communicated to the student in writing and placed in his or her permanent file.
In the case of a negative review the student's support will be withdrawn. A student who is determined ineligible to continue in the Ph.D. Program may receive an M.A. degree, if all the requirements for the M.A. degree are completed (24 credits).
Date of the Preliminary Examinations
A "prelim" is an examination taken during the third year in residence of the Ph.D. program. The purpose of the Preliminary Examinations is to encourage breadth and evaluate the student's competence in specific fields. Passing the "prelims" qualifies the student to proceed to the next state of the program. The Preliminary Examinations must be completed before the beginning of the seventh term.
Steps in Taking the Prelims
1. During the 5th term (normally Fall term of the third year), the Mentoring Committee and the student will jointly decide the fields for the preliminary examinations.
2. The Mentoring Committee and the student will identify and obtain the consent of the appropriate supervisory faculty members for the respective fields. These supervisory faculty will make up the Preliminary Examinations Committee, a committee that normally consists of three members and will include the student's Chair of the Mentoring Committee. For each of the exams, one member of the Preliminary Examinations Committee will be responsible for writing the exam questions and serve as the first reader. Another member will serve as the second reader.
3. The students and the Preliminary Examinations Committee should meet to specify the two fields to be tested and begin developing two reading lists (one for each examination field). They will specify a date for submission of the reading lists. Both fields must be different from the specific focus of the student's intended dissertation topic.
4. Approved reading lists should be provided to the Graduate Program Committee.
5. Once the reading lists have been submitted, dates for the prelims should be specified:
Written Exam 1
To be read and evaluated by one member of the Prelim Examinations
Committee and the Chair of the Mentoring Committee.
Written Exam 2
To be read and evaluated by one member of the Prelim Examinations
Committee and the Chair of the Mentoring Committee.
To be completed before the first day of the student's seventh term in
residence (usually September 1 of the fourth year). The student's
performance will be evaluated by all members of the Prelims
Examination Committee. (At this point, all language exams must have
been successfully completed.)
Note: Students entering the program after the Fall 2010 term will be asked to complete all language and preliminary exams by April 29 of their third year.
Recommended Structure for the Preliminary Examinations
Students will be tested in two fields, both must be different from the specific focus of the student's intended dissertation topic. The preliminary examinations will consist of two take-home exams, each given on a Friday and to be returned on the following Monday. Each exam shall consist of providing a clear and succinct answer to one question to be chosen from two specific questions. Answers should not exceed 25 pages.
If both written exams are completed successfully, then an oral exam is scheduled within two weeks of the completion of the written exams. The oral exam addresses both fields chosen for the written examinations.
Results of the Preliminary Examinations
The results of the preliminary examinations will be reported in writing by the supervisors to the Mentoring Committee and the Graduate Program Committee within one week of completion. Each of the readers will give the student a grade of Pass (P) or Not Pass (NP). For written examinations to be successfully completed, both examiners have to provide a grade of P.
In the event that the student fails one of his or her written exam, he or she may be allowed to retake the exam once. The retaking of an exam must occur no later than six weeks after being notified of a failed examination. The original chief examiner will provide another two questions to the student on a Friday and the exam is to be returned on the following Monday. The results of the exam will be reported to the student no later than one week after completion.
In order to advance to candidacy, a student must have: (1) successfully completed 36 credit hours in approved courses, (2) finished all incomplete course work, (3) met the first and second research languages requirement, and (4) passed preliminary examinations. The Graduate Program Committee should be notified in writing by the Chair of the student's Mentoring Committee once the student completes each of these benchmarks. The Graduate Program Coordinator will then file the necessary paperwork with Rackham to have the student advanced to candidacy.
Upon reaching candidacy, the student selects a Dissertation Committee comprising of four faculty members in consultation with his or her Mentoring Committee. The Mentoring Committee will then be dissolved. The Dissertation Committee consists of a Chair from within the Department, one cognate member (from outside the department), and at least two other faculty members, one of which must be from within the Department. The student must notify the Graduate Program Coordinator in writing once all members of the Dissertation Committee have been confirmed.
The dissertation prospectus must be presented to the Dissertation Committee no later than the end of the student's seventh term in residence (usually no later than December 1 of the fourth year). The specific date for the presentation prospectus will be set in consultation with the Dissertation Committee.
Description of the Prospectus
The candidate will establish the structure and content of his or her prospectus in consultation with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee. A dissertation prospectus is typically 10-15 double spaced pages in length.
Presentation of the Prospectus
The presentation of the prospectus must be attended by the Dissertation Committee and will be open to all interested faculty and students. Two weeks before the presentation, the place and time of the event along with a two-page abstract of the prospectus will be circulated in the Department. Following the presentation, the Dissertation Committee will inform the Graduate Program Committee in writing of the results of the presentation within 24 hours.
The Ph.D. dissertation must be based upon original research. It must demonstrate mature scholarship and critical judgment, as well as familiarity with the tools and methods of research, and constitute a contribution to knowledge in the candidate's specific field. Candidates are advised to familiarize themselves thoroughly with the various Graduate School's rules regarding the format and filing deadlines for the dissertation.
Date of the Defense
Complete copies of the dissertation, in compliance with the Graduate School's rules for formatting, will be submitted to the Department no later than two weeks before the date of the oral defense. The dissertation will be reviewed by the Dissertation Committee.
Oral Defense of the Dissertation
An oral defense will follow the submission of the dissertation. During the defense, which will be open to the public, the candidate will make a presentation and answer questions regarding the dissertation and related topics. The Department and the student will be informed of the outcome according to the relevant Graduate School rules.