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PhD Degree Requirements (pre-2014)

These degree requirements only apply to doctoral students who entered the program prior to September 2014

Degree Requirements
PhD candidates normally must complete six half-courses (three credit courses), including the PhD Core Course and the Research Methods Workshop (unless they can demonstrate previous mastery of these topics), as well as appropriate courses in a major and minor field. Upon completion of the courses, candidates must pass Qualifying Examinations and present an acceptable Dissertation Proposal.

The Doctoral Dissertation must make an original contribution to knowledge in the field.

Part-time studies at York - the program makes every effort to schedule a selection of courses at times convenient for part-time study.  However, courses are not always available in the evening.  Part-time students may find it necessary to take courses which are scheduled throughout the day.  This may mean negotiating time away from your other commitments.

Degree Requirements
6 half-courses (18 course credits)

Doctoral Program Expectations

  • PhD I
  • PhD II
  • PhD III
  • PhD IV

PhD I: Course work; Faculty mentors; GA/RA/TA assignment (varies by institution)

Course work: requirements; Students are strongly advised to complete their course work in PhD I and PhD II.

Faculty mentors:  For the first year at least, the primary advisor will be graduate programme director (GPD) to assist students with the selection of their course work. The GPD can assist or a faculty advisor with suggestions for a supervisor and committee members though supervisor assignment need not be finalized until the FGS deadline of the end of Term 5 in PhD II. Faculty and the GPD will advise students on appropriate course selection, especially courses in the areas in which they propose to write their comprehensive exam field essay in PhD II. Faculty advisors and the GPD shall also assist students in their applications for external funding such as SSHRC, CGS, and OGS.

GA/RA/TA assignment: During their time as full-time students in the program, students will work as research assistants, graduate assistants or teaching assistants.

PhD II – Course work; Comprehensive Examinations; Supervisor Selection; Professional Development

Comprehensive Examinations: Students are expected to complete the comprehensive exam, which shall take the form of a three-part examination followed by an oral examination, normally no later than the end of the second term of PhD II. (See comprehensive regulations.)

Supervisor Selection: As part of the comprehensive examination process, all students will compose a three-person comprehensive examination committee (normally with representation from each university), in consultation with the Graduate Program Director (GPD). It is expected that in many cases, the members of the comprehensive examination committee will become members of the student’s dissertation supervisory committee.

FGS regulations regarding Supervisor selection dictate that a supervisor must be recommended by the GPD for approval by the Dean of FGS no later than the end of the fifth term of study (end of second term of PhD II). Students will not be able to register in the seventh term of study (the onset of PhD III) unless a supervisor has been approved.

A full supervisory committee must be recommended by the GPD for approval by the Dean of FGS no later than the end of the eighth term of study (end of second term of PhD III). Students will not be able to register in the tenth term of study (the onset of PhD IV) unless a supervisory committee has been approved.

Professional Development: PhD II students will be encouraged to participate in graduate student conferences and other academic conferences, presenting material from dissertation research, field essays, or courses.

PhD III – Dissertation Proposal; Dissertation Research; Professional Development

Dissertation Proposal: Students should normally submit a dissertation proposal, including Ethics Approval (if applicable), for approval by their dissertation committee, the Program, and FGS no later than four months after completion of the comprehensive examination. Dissertation Research:  Students are expected to conduct appropriate primary and secondary dissertation research in PhD III and thereafter.

Professional Development: PhD III students will be encouraged to continue to participate in graduate student conferences and other academic conferences presenting material from dissertation research, field essays, or courses.

PhD IV - Dissertation Writing; Professional Development

Dissertation Writing: Although the PhD in Communication and Culture is a four-year program with most students expected to finish writing their dissertations in PhD IV.  However, please note that while we expect the degree to be completed in four years, FGS regulations permit students six years of registration as a full-time student.

Professional Development: PhD IV and V students will be encouraged to continue to participate in graduate student conferences and other academic conferences presenting material from dissertation research, field essays, or courses.

Qualifying Examination
PhD students must demonstrate an overall command of the field and of the major and minor areas of concentration by passing a written comprehensive examination. The examination is normally taken no later than the second year of registration [or by the end of the third year for part-time students]. The examination will test the student’s grasp of the history of the field, its central themes and major debates, and the key theoretical and methodological issues. The examination will reflect the diversity of perspectives in the field and its transdisciplinary nature.

The successful completion of the examination indicates that the student is qualified to teach at the university level and has the level of knowledge in her/his area of specialization needed to begin work on the dissertation.

Dissertation Research
The candidate will prepare a dissertation proposal, under the direction of an advisory committee of Program faculty, consisting of:

  1. a description of and rationale for the research question or problem;
  2. a survey of relevant literature and a discussion of the debates to which the research will contribute;
  3. a discussion of research design, plans, and methods;
  4. a proposed table of contents;
  5. a select bibliography;
  6. a work plan or timetable.

Language/Cognate Requirement
Students will be required to demonstrate competence in those languages and research techniques essential to their research and preparation of their dissertation.


PhD Course Requirements

Please note:  some doctoral candidates may be required to take MA level courses in addition to those required for the doctoral degree, if their background preparation so warrants.  Students will be notified prior to registration if additional courses are required.

Core Courses [2 half-courses, 6.0 credits]
All PhD students are required to take the following core courses:

In addition to the above Core Courses, all students must take:

Foundation Courses [3 half-courses, 9.0 credits]
All candidates are required to take a foundation course in each of two fields. Candidates must select a major field from those offered by the program and a minor field, either from the program offerings, or in a related program (with permission of the program director). The program’s fields include:

Elective Courses [2 half-courses, minimum 6.0 credits]
Candidates must take at least one elective course (minimum 3.0 credits) in their major field.  One additional elective course may be taken in any area of study, as well as in another graduate program.

Independent study courses are also available. These include Directed Readings, Directed Research, Directed Group Study and Field Placement. Please discuss your plans with your program director prior to embarking on any of these courses. More information on Independent study courses.

Updated on November 25th, 2014.