Women’s and Gender Studies
CAT Ph.D. Track in Women’s and Gender Studies
The graduate programs in Women’s and Gender Studies at Stony Brook creates a space within the academy for critical thinking across disciplines about the explanatory categories of gender, race, class, sexuality, nation, and disability. Women’s and Gender Studies explores how these categories come into being and operate across different cultures and historical periods, and how they shape social, political, economic and institutional organizations as well as personal experience and perception. The program is particularly strong in four key areas: transnational social movements and globalization; the politics of representation and media analysis; gender and health; and the critical analysis of sexuality.
Along with the core faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies, the graduate programs draw from an extensive network of Graduate Faculty from across Stony Brook University, including in the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and health sciences.
Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
In addition to the minimum requirements of the Graduate School, the following are required:
A. Course Requirements
1. WST 600 Feminist Interdisciplinary Histories and Methods
2. WST 601 Feminist Theories
3. WST 699 Women’s and Gender Studies Teaching Practicum
4. WST 680 Interdisciplinary Research Design
5. Twelve additional graduate courses, at least three of which must be WST courses numbered 600 or higher
A minimum of 48 credits of graduate work is required for the Ph.D. Students who hold an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies or a related discipline can request that their transcripts be evaluated by the graduate studies committee and may receive a maximum of 30 credits toward their Ph.D.
All students seeking the Ph.D. must take the required courses listed above, unless the graduate program committee accepts comparable courses taken previously. All Ph.D. students must acquire a minimum of one semester of formal teaching experience (even if they are unsupported or are on a fellowship requiring no teaching duties) and must concurrently take the formal teaching practicum (WST 699).
The Women’s and Gender Studies Teaching Practicum prepares students to teach an introductory course in Women’s and Gender Studies by engaging with recent developments in feminist pedagogy. Students will observe introductory and upper-level classes in WaGS, and write a syllabus for Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies (WST 102 or WST 103), as well as a syllabus rationale and teaching philosophy. At the same time, we will consider broader questions about the university as an institution in the current moment, and the place of Women’s and Gender Studies within the contemporary university. Along with a consideration of the changing practices and objects of feminist knowledge production, we will also discuss the changing politics and economics of academia, and the impact of the wider academic milieu on what and how knowledge is produced.
Students must take the required courses when they are offered, and cannot replace them by Independent Study courses, except in the most unusual circumstances and by petition to the director of graduate studies at the beginning of the term the course is offered. The petition has to be signed by the person directing the Independent Study and must be approved by the graduate studies committee.
Students taking any Independent Study or Directed Reading course will do so under the departmental rubrics, WST 599 or WST 690. Under exceptional circumstances, the director of graduate studies may approve Independent Study under another department's designator. A maximum of six credits of Independent Study courses is applicable to the degree requirements for the Ph.D. All such courses must be approved by the director of graduate studies before the end of the add/drop period of the semester during which they are to be taken. All students taking Independent Study or Directed Reading courses must file a detailed description, for which forms are available in the Department office. Failure to have these courses approved in a timely fashion will result in de-registration or in denial of credit for the courses.
B. First-Year Evaluation
In the middle of the student’s second semester of graduate work, the director of graduate studies prepares a file for the student’s first-year evaluation. It consists of: 1) the student’s grades, 2) letters from the professor in all of the student’s classes, and, if the student is a teaching assistant, 3) a letter of evaluation from appropriate faculty, and 4) student evaluations. Students may submit any other relevant material such as a seminar paper or original essay. The graduate studies committee will evaluate the dossier and decide whether the student should be encouraged to continue in the program.
In May of the second year, and each year following, the student will complete a report on progress in the program, including specific progress towards degree (coursework, qualifying exams, dissertation proposal, and dissertation) and other achievements (funding, research, presentations, publications). They will then meet with the director of graduate studies or dissertation advisor to discuss their progress in the program. The graduate studies committee will evaluate the report and decide whether the student should be encouraged to continue in the program.
C. Satisfactory Progress Toward the Ph.D.
In addition to requirements above, Ph.D. students must fulfill the following requirements:
1. Maintain at least a 3.5 average, with no course below B-, in each semester of graduate study. There is a one-year maximum limit on incompletes. A student may accumulate no more than two incomplete grades in any one semester or he/she will no longer be considered a Student in Good Standing, a prerequisite to continue in the program. As a result, the student will lose his or her T.A. line as well as face likely dismissal from the program;
2. Receive a satisfactory first-year evaluation in the spring semester of the first year of study, and satisfactory progress report each following May;
3. Satisfy the language requirement before the comprehensive examination;
4. Complete all core courses in the first two years of full-time study and all 48 credits for the Ph.D. in three years;
5. Take the comprehensive examination no later than one year after completion of coursework;
6. Submit and defend a dissertation proposal in the semester following satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examination, no later than one year and a half? after completion of coursework.
By rules of the Graduate School, students must satisfy all requirements for the Ph.D. within seven years after completing 24 credits of graduate work in the Stony Brook department in which they are registered. In rare instances, the Graduate School will entertain a petition to extend this time limit, provided it bears the endorsement of the department. The program may require evidence that the student is still properly prepared for completion of the degree. In particular, the student may be required to pass the comprehensive examination again in order to be permitted to continue work.
D. Foreign Language Requirements
Entering graduate students are expected to have a good command of at least one foreign language. All language requirements must be met three months before students sit for the comprehensive examination.
All students are of course required to demonstrate full command of written and spoken English, the language of instruction in most Women’s and Gender Studies courses.
Whenever possible, language exams for students will be given by core or affiliated faculty in CAT. Each exam will be read by a faculty member.
Competence in a foreign language can be demonstrated in one of the following ways:
1. By earning a grade of B or better in a graduate translation course taught by one of the foreign language departments at Stony Brook. Credits for a graduate translation course do not count toward the total credits required for the Master's or the Ph.D. degree in Women’s and Gender Studies.
2. By passing an examination consisting of two parts, each one hour long, to be taken with a dictionary: a) a short theoretical, critical, or scholarly article that the student is required to summarize and discuss in English; b) a translation of a short scholarly article or passage of medium difficulty.
3. By passing an hour-long oral examination. This option is encouraged for students intending to do interviewing or field research for their dissertation.
E. Comprehensive Examination
Comprehensive Examination in Women’s and Gender Studies: Full-time students who are candidates for the Ph.D. will normally take their comprehensive examination no more than one year after completing their course work. Completing the language requirement is a prerequisite for sitting for the examination.
Committee for the Examination: Students will discuss the choice of a chair for their examination committees with their advisors and the director of graduate studies. One WaGS core or graduate faculty member will be asked by the student to serve as chair of the committee. Three more faculty members who can examine the student in one or more areas of the examination, as defined below, will be selected by the student in consultation with the director of graduate studies, the advisor and the chair of the committee. At least three of the four members of the examination committee must be members of the WaGS core or graduate faculty. At least three of the members of the committee must be physically present at the examination. In most cases, this committee will be the same as the committee for the student’s dissertation, which will provide continuity between the comprehensive examination and the writing of the dissertation.
Reading List: A reading list for all parts enumerated below will be compiled by the student with the help of the examination committee. The definitive version of the reading list, with a cover page bearing signatures of the committee members and indicating who will chair, must be submitted to the graduate studies committee no later than two weeks prior to a meeting of the graduate studies committee. The list must be approved by all members of the student’s committee. Students should submit a description of the special area, related to the dissertation, along with the reading list (see below).
Examination: The examination is written, followed by a short oral defense of the student’s written exam. Questions posed by examiners will be based on the reading list for the examination. The examination may be passed, passed with distinction, failed, or failed in part. In case of failure, the examination may be retaken once, but no later than the end of the semester following the time when it was initially scheduled. In case of partial failure, the second examination will cover only the area(s) on which the candidate's performance was inadequate.
The Women’s and Gender Studies comprehensive examination will consist of three parts.
1. Feminist theories/interdisciplinary methods
2. One of the doctoral program’s four areas of specialization (transnational social movements and globalization; the politics of representation and media analysis; critical analysis of sexuality; and gender and health)
3. Special area (related to the student’s dissertation project)
F. Advancement to Candidacy
Advancement to candidacy is granted by the Graduate School upon recommendation of the director of graduate studies after a successful comprehensive examination. Again, all other requirements must have been met before the student sits for the comprehensive examination. Advancement must be 1 year prior to dissertation? defense.
Students who have passed their Ph.D. comprehensive exam will be deemed to have passed the equivalent of the master's exam and be granted a M. Phil. degree unless they already have a master's degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from another institution. The student must file appropriate papers with the department.W
The dissertation represents the culmination of the student's degree program and should be a serious contribution to scholarship.
Within three months of passing the comprehensive examination, the student must be prepared to schedule the Dissertation Proposal Review. This must be scheduled at a date no later than one year after completion of coursework.
As soon as possible, after the Comprehensive Examination, the candidate should choose a dissertation director, as well as the two readers of the dissertation, from the WaGS core or graduate faculty. Generally, this will be the same as or based on the comprehensive examination committee. The director of the dissertation must be a member of the WaGS core faculty. Graduate faculty may co-direct dissertations with a core faculty member. In consultation with the dissertation director and the readers, the candidate drafts a dissertation proposal.
The dissertation proposal, which must be appropriate to Women’s and Gender Studies, should be between 2000 and 5000 words, not counting footnotes or bibliography, and should include the following:
- Title of the dissertation;
- Description of the topic and its appropriateness for Women’s and Gender Studies in focus and method;
- The rationale behind the choice of topic, and the anticipated contribution of the proposed research to knowledge;
- A discussion of the argument your dissertation will advance;
- Current state of research on the topic and a basic bibliography;
- Description of research methods.
When the director and readers have approved the proposal, the student and the director will schedule a Dissertation Prospectus Review to be attended by the student, the director, and all other members of the dissertation committee. Faculty and/or graduate students may be invited to the review at the discretion of the student. The review should be no less than one hour in length. The director, the readers, and others in attendance will discuss the proposal with the student in order to insure that the student is ready to proceed in the project. When the director and the readers agree that the student is ready, they will sign off on the proposal and submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies. The candidate then proceeds to the dissertation.
Guidelines for Dissertation Prospectus Review
- The student will circulate her or his proposal to all members of the committee three weeks prior to the review.
- The student will begin the review with a summary of the project in less than five minutes. She or he should clearly communicate the core thesis of the prospective dissertation.
- The members of the committee will then ask questions and make suggestions.
- The student should take notes during the meeting and make sure that she or he understands what the committee is suggesting.
- At the end of the meeting, the student will be asked to leave the room so that the members of the committee can discuss whether or not they are ready to sign off on the proposal. If the members of the committee are satisfied that the student is prepared to begin writing the dissertation, they will sign off on the document and send it to the DGS.
- In some cases the committee may decide not to sign and request a revised proposal. If the members of the committee are satisfied with the revised proposal, there is no need for a second dissertation prospectus review. In some cases, however, the committee may decide that a second review is necessary.
Dissertation and Dissertation Defense
Although there are no strict regulations on length, dissertations will normally be between 200 and 400 pages, not including bibliography and other supplemental material. The dissertation committee may, in special cases and with justification, allow a student to submit a shorter or longer dissertation. The student should discuss with her or his dissertation director and committee members their expectations for their involvement in the research/writing process.
When the dissertation has been completed in accordance with guidelines published in Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, legible copies of the complete dissertation must be given to all committee members at least one month in advance of the scheduled defense.
All dissertation defenses shall take place on campus and require the full attendance of the dissertation examining committee. Any exceptions from this practice will require approval from the Dean of the Graduate School. Campus Audio/Video Services can be employed in the event that either a committee member or the defending student cannot be on the premises due to extenuating circumstances. While the examining committee may wish to hold the committee examination of the defense in private, the public presentation of the defense will be open to the university community and should be advertised campus-wide three weeks prior to the scheduled date. A minimum of three weeks prior to the dissertation defense, the dissertation abstract, approved by the student’s advisor and director of graduate studies, must be submitted to the Graduate School with details of the time and location for the defense. The Graduate School will be responsible for advertising the defense to the university community.
The dissertation examining committee will set up the ground rules for the defense, which usually involves the student giving a short précis of the research problem, the research method, and the results. This is followed by questions from the Committee and, if the committee so desires, from the audience.
H. Teaching Assistantships
For Ph.D. students awarded teaching assistantships, four years of full support is the department's norm. Awards are renewable annually, provided the student maintains satisfactory academic progress towards the degree and performs teaching duties appropriately (see above, Satisfactory Progress). Students (other than Turner fellows) should not count on assistantship resources beyond the fourth year of study.
During their first year, Ph.D. students will normally be placed as teaching assistants in a WaGS lecture courses. After the first year, students’ teaching obligation may be fulfilled in several ways depending on departmental needs, including assisting an instructor in a large course or teaching a small section of a 200-level or 300-level women’s and gender studies class. While placements will vary according to student and program needs and constraints, every effort will be made to provide each student with the available range of teaching experiences.
T.A. assignments differ, but the amount of work required cannot exceed 20 hours per week. T.A.s will usually: Hold office hours to review course materials, assist in grading, and discuss other course-related issues with undergraduates; attend classes (graduate courses will be scheduled to minimize interference with T.A. assignments) and read all required entries on the syllabus; lead discussion groups; grade exams, homework, and other written material.
The performance of teaching assistants is monitored by evaluation forms given to undergraduate students at the end of each semester, as well as by faculty members who visit certain classes taught by the T.A. and submit a written evaluation. Stipends of teaching assistants may be terminated if (on the basis of these evaluations and other relevant criteria) the graduate studies committee judges that they have been deficient in carrying out their teaching duties. Superior work as a T.A. is highly valued by the CAT faculty and by the Graduate School. In the past, several T.A’.s from CAT have won the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. This and other prizes for which T.A.’s are eligible carry a cash award.
I. Advisor and Mentor
The Graduate School requires all students to have an advisor. The director of graduate studies serves as advisor to all entering students during their first year and helps them plan their programs. Before the end of the first academic year, full-time students should choose an official graduate advisor from the WaGS core or graduate faculty. Advisor and student meet regularly to discuss the student's progress and program. The advisor will most often end up directing the student’s dissertation. Students are encouraged to consult with all members of the faculty. Students will have selected a dissertation committee by the end of their third year.
J. Residence Requirement
The University requires that students receiving a Ph.D. must take at least two consecutive semesters of full-time graduate study. For those entering without prior graduate study or with fewer than 24 graduate credits, this usually means 12 credits per semester; for those entering with more than 24 graduate credits or with advanced standing provided by prior graduate work, this would mean 9 credits per semester.
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