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Graduate Program

The Ethnic Studies Ph.D. program, established in 1996, is designed to admit students for the Ph.D. degree; additionally, students earn an M.A. after completing the Comprehensive Examination by the end of their second year in the program.  The normative time to degree is 6-years. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and two other faculty serve on the Graduate Admissions Committee; and the DGS and two other faculty serve on the Graduate Record Committee, which meets to decide issues of academic progress and policy respecting graduate students. Please see the Graduate Program Handbook for more details.

Questions regarding the Graduate Program and graduate students should be directed to the Graduate Program Coordinator and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.


Graduate students should receive the following advising services:

  • Director of Graduate Studies
    • Advice and information about the Ethnic Studies Graduate Program and graduate student life in general
    • Advice about student academics and Doctoral Committees
    • Information and approvals for petitions, employment as TA, Reader, or GSR, grants, and fellowship applications
  • First Year Faculty Advisor (for each student)
    • Meets at least once each quarter with advisee
    • Available to discuss course enrollment, graduate program and trajectory, and academic and personal goals
    • First Year Faculty Advisors are assigned to each new graduate student before the beginning of the Fall Quarter of the first year
  • Graduate Coordinator
    • Advice and information on academic procedures and regulations, graduate student petitions, course information, and academic records
    • Student employment information
    • Fellowship and stipend information
    • Advice, information, and referrals regarding student life issues (housing, health care resources, support, etc.)


Students enrolled in the Department’s graduate seminars (required courses and electives) receive credit for participation with a letter grade. The following courses will be taken as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grade option only (“S” equals B- or better):

  • 230
  • 291
  • 298
  • 299
  • 500

Directed Readings (ETHN 298 courses)

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. 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 and schedule hours of instruction
  • Complete the ETHN 298 form obtained from the Graduate Program Coordinator

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 course 291 is specifically designed to allow students time to prepare the MA comprehensive exam. 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.

Hiring Students

Graduate students may be employed as Graduate Student Researchers (GSR’s), Readers, Tutors, Teaching Assistants, or Associates in Ethnic Studies. Undergraduate students may be employed in the Student Assistant III or Student Assistant IV title, depending on the level of their duties. Before any student begins work, the proper hiring procedures and forms must be completed and submitted to the appropriate offices. Please notify the Graduate Program Coordinator of your intent to hire a student 2 months BEFORE you have them begin working, and please check with the Department Financial Analyst to make sure your funding is appropriately managed. 

Teaching Assistants

The duties of a TA normally entail grading papers and examinations, conducting discussion sections, holding three hours of office hours and related activities. Each TA is expected to attend the lectures for the course in which he/she assists. An evaluation of the student’s teaching is required of the supervising Professor at the end of each quarter. Please contact the Graduate Department Coordinator for details regarding the Union regulations.


The “Reader” title is given to students employed to render services as course assistants, specifically the grading of student papers and/or examinations. Readers may not be given the teaching responsibilities customarily accorded to Teaching Assistants. Readers are paid only to grade papers or exams.

Readers are paid from available funds in the Department’s annual TA allocation. This allocation is based on many factors, but is driven heavily by overall undergraduate course enrollments.

A request for a Reader may be made to the CAO for a class with enrollment of more than fifty students. Approval for hiring a Reader will be made based on availability of appropriate funds. The course instructor alone is expected to teach and grade papers and examinations for a class of ffity students or less.