PhD Program Overview

Ethnic Studies Ph.D. students are required to enroll on a full-time basis (i.e., to carry a minimum enrollment of twelve units of graduate-level courses each quarter) and to maintain a grade point average of 3.2 or better. As part of our Ph.D. program, students obtain an M.A. degree after successful completion of required foundational coursework and Parts 1 & 2 of the Comprehensive Exam.

1. Ethnic Studies 200 A-B-C, Core Seminar

All graduate students are required to take the introductory three-quarter core seminar (4 units each, 12 units total) during their first year in the program: 200A: “Departures: A Genealogy of Critical Racial and Ethnic Studies;” 200B: “Formulations: Interdisciplinarity and Knowledge Production in Ethnic Studies;” and 200C: “Projects (ProSeminar): Research in Ethnic Studies.”

2. Ethnic Studies 201, 202, & 203, Research Methods Courses

These courses introduce students to the practice of original discovery research in the field of racial and ethnic studies, including articulating a research problem, placing it within theoretical discussions, selecting appropriate methods, and analyzing data.

ETHN 201 - Historical Methods and Archives (4 units): This course seeks to develop research skills in historical methods; to understand techniques and tools historians use to create historical narratives using archival and historical sources; and to compare and relate the value of these to ethnic studies research.

ETHN 202 - Qualitative Methods / Ethnography (4 units): This course focuses on conceptual and methodological frameworks of Ethnography and qualitative inquiry including research design, grounded theory, the field note journal, participant observation and interviewing; major themes include the role of indigenous/insider researchers, ethics of involvement and community collaboration.

ETHN 203 - Cultural Studies and Cultural Production (4 units): This course will train students in approaches to interdisciplinary research concerned with power and the production of knowledge, with a focus on conducting multimedia field research, applying discourse analysis, and recognizing forms of data across disciplinary divides.

If appropriate to a student’s research interests, one methods course may be selected (in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor) from graduate methods courses offered by other UCSD Humanities and Social Science Departments

3. Ethnic Studies 230, Department Colloquium

During the first two years of graduate study, all students are required to enroll each quarter in the department colloquium. In ETHN 230, department and affiliate faculty, graduate students, and visiting lecturers will make presentations about research in progress in our field. This colloquium is a one-unit course and must be taken for a total of six quarters.

4. Ethnic Studies 291A-B Comprehensive Research Preparation:

The Literature Review (year 1) & The Methodologies Paper (year 2)

Rather than emphasizing particular racial or ethnic identities, the Department of Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary social science department specializing in analytic, comparative, and theoretical approaches to the study of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, in a global context. As such, we interpret the term “comprehensive” to describe a complete set of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological tools that will enable candidates for the Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies to master the skills necessary to undertake exemplary research in the field of Ethnic Studies.

To fulfill requirements for the Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies, students should enroll in ETHN 291A-B, Comprehensive Research Preparation.

In the Spring quarter of the first year of graduate studies, students enroll in ETHN 291A, Comprehensive Research Preparation: the Literature Review. The purpose of the First-Year Critical Literature Review is to evaluate students’ familiarity and facility with key theoretical approaches, debates, and frameworks within the field of Ethnic Studies. It consists of a 20-page critical analysis of how existing scholarship within the field of Ethnic Studies informs their consideration of an area of interest. It is an opportunity for students to summarize, synthesize and assess the general body of literature from the first year seminars, and to make connections to an area of interest. These connections are not necessarily obvious, and the paper is an exam of how students can synthesize and re-apply the shared literature of their cohort. Students should draw from the scholarship covered in their first year courses. Little, if any, new reading should be undertaken.  The goals of the theoretical Framework paper are: 1) demonstrate comprehensive and holistic knowledge of key theoretical approaches, debates, and frameworks of Ethnic Studies; 2) incorporate and expand upon key texts, ideas, and concerns discussed in the first-year core course sequence (200A,200B,200C); 3) develop a critical analysis of how existing ES scholarship informs an area of interest; 4) define what constitutes an Ethnic Studies project; 5) the total number of texts referenced should not be less than ten, although students may focus their paper on an in-depth examination of 4-6 key texts.

In the Spring quarter of the second year, students enroll in ETHN 291B, Comprehensive Research Preparation: the Methodologies Paper. The Second-Year Research Methodologies Paper evaluates students’ knowledge of interdisciplinary research methods in the service of an Ethnic Studies research agenda. It consists of a 20-25 page critical paper that encompasses a critical evaluation of the selection of Ethnic Studies research methodologies. The goal of the research methodology paper is for students to demonstrate their familiarity with the breadth of interdisciplinary methods appropriate to the field of Ethnic Studies and their mastery of the research methodological and analytical skills necessary for writing a Doctoral Dissertation in the field.

5. Elective Seminars (Four 4-unit seminars are required for the M.A. degree)

Graduate seminar classes are designed to cover theory, content, and topics that are necessary for a broad training in Ethnic Studies. They allow students to become acquainted with disciplines and faculty outside of Ethnic Studies, and fulfill requirements of the Ethnic Studies Ph.D. As appropriate to a student’s research interests, courses may be selected, in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor, from graduate courses offered by other UCSD Humanities and Social Science Departments.

The M.A. Degree & Comprehensive Examination

Students entering the Ethnic Studies doctoral program must first complete a master’s degree before continuing toward the doctorate. University regulations prohibit entering students who already have a master’s degree in Ethnic Studies from receiving a second master’s degree. Nonetheless, students who are admitted to the Ethnic Studies doctoral program with a master’s degree must complete all the requirements for the Ethnic Studies Master of Arts degree.

Each student will work with a faculty advisor, assigned during the student’s first year; each part of the Comprehensive Examination, the Literature Review in year one and the Methodologies Paper in year two, will be evaluated by two faculty Readers, one chosen by the student in consultation with his/her advisor, and one chosen by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the faculty. The two faculty Readers will be chosen no later than Winter quarter of the first year for the Literature Review; and Winter quarter of the second year for the Methodologies Paper. These readers may ask for revisions or responses to the examination papers.

The M.A. degree is awarded on the basis of the successful completion of all the required coursework in the first and second years of the program and the two parts of the Comprehensive Examination. Students must successfully complete the Literature Review no later than Spring quarter of the first year of study; and they must successfully complete the Mehodologies Paper no later than Spring quarter of the second year of study.

After the completion of the Comprehensive Examination, the two faculty Readers and the student’s Faculty Advisor convey their recommendation to the Graduate Record Committee (GRC) based on coursework grades, the two examination papers, and yearly faculty evaluations. This committee ascertains the student’s suitability for doctoral work and recommends either advancement to Ph.D. work or termination. The Graduate Record Committee makes the final decision and awards three possible grades: “Pass,” “M.A. Only,” and “No-Pass.”

All passing students are eligible to continue in the Ph.D. program. Students who do not already have a Master’s degree in Ethnic Studies from another institution receive the Master of Arts degree. Students who receive “M.A. Only” evaluations gain the Master’s degree but may not continue in the department’s Ph.D. program. Students who receive a No-Pass evaluation must withdraw from the program without a graduate degree. To receive the M.A. degree, students must file at OGS an Application for Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts no later than the last day of the second week of Spring Quarter of their second year. Students should request this form from the Graduate Coordinator.

Directed Readings Policy & Requirements

A Directed Reading (ETHN 298 course) provides individual instruction for students who would like to study a particular topic that is not covered in a regular seminar course. Prior to completing this form, students who wish to enroll in ETHN 298’s (from 1 to 12 units) should complete these steps by the end of the previous quarter:

  •  Meet with a faculty member to discuss your 298 proposal
  • Develop a description  (scope and goal) for the directed reading with the faculty member

 Develop a reading list and planned assignments (please attach to this form)

  •  Schedule hours of instruction
  • Complete the ETHN 298 form and obtain the required signatures, email approval o.k. Email the form with approvals to the Graduate Coordinator, who will facilitate enrollment through TritonLink.

Generally speaking 298s are reserved for post MA students.  Only in exceptional cases, Pre-MA students can request to take a 298. No more than 8 units of 298 can be approved for pre-MA students.

Students will need to explore seminars in and out of the Ethnic Studies department, and requests for the 298 must illustrate that no seminars are being offered from which the student would benefit. In addition, a requested ETHN 298 must relate directly to the individual’s M.A. research, either the Literature Review or Research Paper, and students making this request must explain a special circumstance and be approved by the student’s Faculty Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. Specifically, the student must explain why the skills and knowledge provided by the requested reading are pertinent at this particular point in the program.

 The M.A. preparation courses 291A and 291B are specifically designed to allow students time to prepare the Literature Review and the Methodologies Paper. The completion of class work for the Ethnic Studies Ph.D. requires the completion of the formal requirements and the stipulated amount of course hours. Directed readings may complement these requirements but should not be viewed as alternatives to required or elective classes offered by Ethnic Studies or those which can be taken outside of the department.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

The Doctoral Qualifying Examination (Orals) tests the student’s readiness to undertake advanced independent teaching and research in Ethnic Studies. It can be scheduled as early as the Spring quarter of a student’s third year in the Program; it will normally be taken by the Winter Quarter of the fourth year; and in every case must be completed by the end of the Spring quarter of the fourth year.

The Qualifying Examination is comprised of three parts:  1) the composition of three distinct reading lists: General Ethnic Studies, Specialty Field, and Teaching Field;  2) the completion of the Specialty Field Paper, based on the Specialty Field reading list and an Annotated Course Syllabus, based on the Teaching Field reading list; 3) a two-hour oral examination on the General Ethnic Studies reading list, the Specialty Field paper, and the Annotated Course Syllabus.

A required Workshop, Preparing Qualifying Exam Reading Lists, will be offered early in Fall quarter of the third year. Students also begin discussions with faculty for convening a Qualifying/Doctoral Committee.

Doctoral Committee

The Doctoral Committee consists of five persons proposed by the student and accepted by the Chair of the proposed committee, the Department Chair, and the Office of Graduate Studies according to graduate council regulations. At least five of the committee members shall be officers of instruction and no fewer than four shall hold professorial titles (of any rank). The committee members shall be chosen from at least two departments, and at least two members shall represent academic specialties that differ from the student’s chosen specialty. In all cases, each committee must include one tenured or emeritus UCSD faculty member from outside the student’s major department. A sixth member of the committee may be added with the approval of the department chair. A useful chart on the OGS website gives additional information about doctoral committee membership:

Students should select the chair of their examination committee by 1 December of their third year of study. The chair of the Doctoral Committee serves as the student’s adviser for the remainder of the student’s graduate program and s/he should be consulted prior to registering for classes and with regard to plans for completion of examinations and for dissertation research.

Part One: The Qualifying Reading Lists

Students will devise three Qualifying Reading Lists, each drawn from bibliographies of approximately twenty (20) to thirty (30) scholarly article and book titles. The Qualifying/Doctoral Committee will be convened no later than Winter quarter of the third year, and the three reading lists will be completed and filed with the Graduate Coordinator no later than the end of the Winter quarter of the student’s third year in the Program. The three reading lists are as follows:

The General Ethnic Studies Reading List draws from Part I of the Ethnic Studies Graduate Reading List, posted in the Graduate Handbook. This list will provide a framework for establishing command of the core theoretical, historical, and methodological foundations of Ethnic Studies. General Ethnic Studies reading lists submitted in the process of Qualifying will be used to revise the Ethnic Studies Graduate Reading List for subsequent cohorts.

The Specialty Field Reading List defines a broad area of expertise related to the student’s dissertation research interests. Bibliography choices should follow relevant and emerging areas of scholarship that provide the broad context for the dissertation topic.

The Teaching Reading List demonstrates mastery over an area in which the student expects to offer a variety of courses. A Teaching Field may overlap the terrain of the Specialty Field, but should be substantially different from or wider than the Specialty Field.

Part Two:  The Qualifying Written Components

Students begin working on the Specialty Field paper and the Annotated Syllabus as soon as they have submitted the three reading lists and convened a Qualifying/Doctoral Committee; students are expected to complete the two written components during the Fall quarter of the fourth year.

In the Specialty Field Paper, students will demonstrate their familiarity with key texts in a chosen field of specialization and the capacity to critically engage key issues, central debates, and shaping trajectories of a defined field that will reflect the development of their dissertation topic and research agenda. This literature review provides committee members a valuable opportunity to assess students’ critical writing skills as well as their capacity to synthesize and evaluate complex, heterogeneous, and interdisciplinary bodies of scholarship. The specialty field paper will be expected to provide contextual background and a jumping-off point for conceptualizing and drafting the dissertation prospectus.

The Annotated Syllabus allows doctoral candidates to conceptualize and articulate the key debates and themes that define a particular field, as well as to develop their pedagogical approach to course development. In contrast to the specialty field paper, the annotated syllabus will highlight the student’s breadth as a teacher beyond their chosen research area of expertise. Additionally, it will provide students with a valuable template for their future employment and fellowship application materials.

Part Three:  The Oral Examination

The Qualifying Oral Examination may be scheduled when the student has read the material on the three Qualifying reading lists, written a Specialty Field Paper based on the Specialty Field reading list, and completed an Annotated Course Syllabus based on the Teaching Field reading list. Seven days before the scheduled qualifying examination (and no later than week 9 of Winter quarter), the student must submit the written Specialty Field paper and Annotated Course Syllabus to the examination committee.  A two-hour oral examination will occur on the appointed date. At the two-hour oral exam, the student will answer questions posed by the committee about the General Ethnic Studies reading list, the Specialty Field paper, the Annotated Course Syllabus, and comprehensive knowledge of Ethnic Studies scholarship.  Based on the written components and on oral performance, one of three possible grades will be selected by the examination committee: No-Pass, Pass, and High Pass. Students who receive a No Pass must retake the qualifying examination within one year and obtain a Pass grade to remain in the doctoral program. Students must complete the Qualifying Exam by the end of Winter quarter of the fourth year; this includes:

- Convening a committee (organized in Winter Quarter of the third year)

- Completing the Specialty Field Paper

- Completing the Annotated Syllabus

- Passing the oral examination

- Fulfilling the language requirement, as needed

The Language Requirement

Before beginning dissertation research, all doctoral candidates must certify to the department’s Graduate Record Committee (GRC) that they have adequate linguistic competence in one foreign language relevant to their area of research by translating three pages of scholarly text written in the designated foreign language. The student’s doctoral committee may waive the language requirement and test the candidate on other specialized skills in instances where knowledge of a foreign language is not relevant to the candidate’s areas of research. The student’s committee chair should verify competency or approve a waiver of the language requirement. Competence in one or more foreign languages is encouraged but not required at the M.A. level.

Qualifying Exam Form and Procedure
Once a student has has scheduled their Qualifying Exam, they should contact the Graduate Coordinator to obtain the OGS multi copy form “Report of the Qualifying Examination/Advancement to Candidacy for Doctoral Degree”. This form should be taken to the qualifying exam meeting to obtain all the doctoral committee members signatures. The student must also obtain the Department Chair’s signature on the form. After obtaining all the signatures, the student takes the form to the Cashiers Office, Student Services Bldg, to pay the $50.00 candidacy fee.  After the cashier has stamped the form, turn it in to the OGS Office, Student Services Bldg, 4th floor. Once the Report is approved by the Graduate Dean, the student will be Advanced to Candidacy. These requirements of the Qualifying Examination are mandatory for the 2011-2012 cohort and those to follow. Graduate students from previous cohorts may elect to follow the new requirements, to the extent possible.

Dissertation Prospectus and Prospectus Meeting

In Week 10 of Winter quarter of the fourth year, students attend a required workshop, Preparing the Dissertation Prospectus. A Dissertation Prospectus of fifteen (15) to twenty (20) pages, excluding bibliography, will be due by the end of the Quarter following the Qualifying Examinations. The dissertation prospectus is a written document that (1) specifies the dissertation research topic; (2) places the dissertation research in the context of the relevant literature in the field; (3) identifies the significance of the project as original discovery scholarship; (4) explains and justifies the research methods to be employed; (5) establishes the feasibility of the research and identifies the primary sources or data bases to be used; (6) indicates the anticipated steps leading to completion of the project; and (7) provides a timetable for the research and writing phases of the project.

No later than week 9 of Spring quarter of the fourth year, the candidate will furnish the prospectus to the dissertation committee members and will schedule a one and a half hour Prospectus Meeting with the entire dissertation committee. The Prospectus Meeting must be at least one full week after the Prospectus has been completed and sent to Committee members.

Dissertation Research

Once students pass the qualifying exam, they may begin dissertation research. Students are expected to consult with their committee members on a regular basis during the research process. All doctoral students will be evaluated annually by the doctoral committee and given a written report signed by the committee Chair or Co-Chairs and at least two other committee members according to campus policy. When the dissertation has been substantially completed and once committee members have had the opportunity to review drafts of the written work, the committee meets (with or without the student present at the discretion of the committee chair) to consider the progress made and to identify concerns, changes to be made, or further research to be done. Students must submit the final draft of the dissertation to the Committee at least one (1) month in advance of the scheduled defense. The final version of the dissertation must be approved by each member of the doctoral committee. Once the committee members are substantially satisfied with the written work, the student, in consultation with the committee, schedules the oral defense of the dissertation. By University regulation, the defense is open to the public.

Having successfully defended the dissertation in oral examination, the student is eligible to receive the Ph.D. degree. The final version of the dissertation is then filed with the university librarian via the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. Acceptance of the dissertation by the University Librarian is the final step in completing all requirements for the Ph.D.

More detailed information about the program of study, committee formation and the Graduate reading List is available in the Graduate Student Handbook.