Ph.D. Program


Applicants who already possess an Italian M.A. degree from an American university deemed by this Department to be a peer institution will be credited with their M.A. and will be eligible to enter the Ph.D. program directly.Students with an M.A. degree from an institution in Italy which this department deems to be a peer institution can advance immediately to pursue the Ph.D, but will be required to pass the M.A. Comprehensive Examination no later than the end of their third quarter of graduate study. Students entering the graduate program with a B.A., or with a university degree in a discipline other than Italian literature, will be required to pursue the entire course of the M.A. program, and in some cases additional courses if deemed necessary by the faculty, before passing the Comprehensive Examination. As with all M.A. level students, performance on the comprehensive exam will dictate whether they will be allowed to to fulfill the Ph.D. requirements.

Advising and Doctoral Committee

Following completion of the M.A. exam, students will be urged to select, within their first quarter and in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), a faculty member to serve as their adviser, who may also agree to become the chair of the student’s doctoral guidance committee. This doctoral committee must be constituted at least one quarter prior to taking Part II of the Ph.D. written qualifying examinations. This committee prepares and administers Part II of the exam once the ten-course Ph.D. requirement and other preparatory work have been completed.

Major and Minor Fields

A Ph.D. student will generally select as a major field of study two centuries or periods of Italian literature (medieval, Renaissance/baroque, or modern/contemporary). Two other centuries of Italian literature can comprise the minor field. He or she might also choose a minor field outside of the department if it is closely tied to the major area of specialization and meets with the approval of the entire faculty (e.g., cinema, history, art history, etc.). With careful planning, majors and minors may be period based, may deal with a specific genre, movement, theme, or critical question (e.g. lyric poetry, short story, realism, modernism, feminism, allegory, the border, identity, etc.), may address a relationship between Italian literature and another medium or field (e.g. cinema, painting, music, politics, history, etc.).

Foreign Language Requirement

A reading knowledge of two of the following foreign languages is required: Latin, French, German, or Spanish. Students will demonstrate reading knowledge of their two languages by successful completion of UCLA undergraduate language coursework through at least level 3 or by a departmental placement exam. A language used to satisfy the requirement for the M.A. degree in Italian may be applied toward fulfillment of one of the two language requirements. Language requirements must be satisfied before taking Part II of the qualifying examinations.

Course Requirements

In addition to the courses required for the master’s degree, at least ten other quarter courses are required. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program who have not previously taken Italian 205 and IT 225 (or their equivalents) are required to take them as soon as possible. Students who wish courses taken in another department of university to be deemed equivalent to these must submit a detailed letter of petition addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies. Two relevant courses taught in other graduate programs at UCLA may be counted toward the ten courses required for the Ph.D. in Italian provided that students receive the entire faculty’s approval, via a similar letter of petition addressed to the DGS.

Incomplete Grades

The grade “I” (Incomplete) can be assigned when a student’s work is of passing quality but is incomplete for good cause. To remove the “I” the student must complete the work by the end of the immediately following quarter.  If not completed within that quarter, the grade “I” will lapse to “F.”

Written and Oral Qualifying Exams

There are two parts to the Ph.D. written exams. The M.A. Comprehensive Examination (in Italian) is Part I, and the Ph.D. written and oral examinations are part II.

Scheduling Exams

All students should take Part II of the qualifying exams by the end of their sixth quarter in residence as a Ph.D. student (or no later than six quarters after taking Part I of the qualifying exams, which is equivalent to the M.A. Comprehensive Exam).

Part II consists of 2 written examinations, followed by 1 oral examination. The written and oral exams of Part II should be taken during the same academic year, though not necessarily the same quarter. They should be administered no later than six quarters after completion of the M.A. degree. PhD students should make preparations for these exams, and receive all necessary approvals, by the end of their fifth quarter in residence. Scheduling these exams is also the responsibility of the student (assisted by the Graduate Student Officer). Part II of the qualifying exams consists of a written Minor Exam, a written Major Exam, and an Oral Examination. Half of the Oral Examination is devoted to a detailed discussion of the student’s Dissertation Prospectus (see below).

Nearing completion of their coursework, students choose in consultation with the DGS an exam-and-dissertation director – a ladder-rank member of the faculty of the Department of Italian – to head a committee of four faculty members. This committee composes and evaluates the exams. One of the four must be an “outside member” – a professor from another department or another UC campus, ideally familiar with the student’s work. Students choose two areas of study (see above), each approved by the exam director and doctoral committee at least one month before the exams. The committee approves two suitable reading lists, one of at least 10 to 15 texts for the minor exam, and the other of 20 to 30 texts for the major. The student’s reading list should be structured with a view toward the interests of the upcoming dissertation. The reading lists must also be submitted for approval to the DGS.

Minor Exam (5 hours): requires answering one comprehensive, multi-textual essay question out of a choice of three, in a single sitting.

Major Exam (6 hours): requires answering two essay questions out of a choice of six, also in a single sitting. The first question will ask for a textual analysis, or close reading of a specific passage, extrapolating information about the author’s achievement as a whole as well as broad patterns in Italian literary history. The second question asks for a multi-textual interpretation, comparative or historical in nature.

The Dissertation Prospectus: At least one month before the oral, the student must have chosen and researched a dissertation topic. This work will have resulted in a Dissertation Prospectus of no less than 15 pages, plus a substantial critical bibliography, circulated among the members of the doctoral committee. Close work with the dissertation director, and patient acts of revision, are advised. The competed prospectus must be turned in to the committee at least two weeks before the oral exam.

Oral Exam (2 hours): To be taken no later than one quarter after the two written exams. The first half of the oral examination will discuss the recent written qualifying exams; the second half will focus on the dissertation prospectus. Members of the committee will be especially interested in the cogency and originality of the proposed dissertation topic. As with all parts of the doctoral exams, a student may pass, fail, or, in the case of a less than satisfactory performance, be scheduled to repeat a variation of the same exam at another date. No exam in the graduate program can be repeated more than once.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are “advanced to candidacy” and awarded the Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil.) degree upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the field of Italian studies.

A dissertation defense upon completion of the dissertation is not required in the Department of Italian except in extraordinary cases.

Time to Degree

Completion of all coursework, examinations, and the dissertation for the Ph.D. degree should occur no later than six years from beginning of graduate status.