General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy
The PhD requires 72 units of course work, of which up to 24 semester units may be transferred from previous graduate course work in religion or related discipline. Most students, therefore, are admitted to a 48-unit PhD (with 24 units to transfer) and some are admitted to a 72-unit PhD (with no units to transfer).
Students may choose to have a major and a minor area. They will take 48 units in the major area and 16 units in a minor area. They may choose the minor area from within as well as outside the School of Religion. In addition, students can minor in World Religions by an appropriate selection of courses in a variety of religions. This major/minor arrangement does not apply to those in the dual degree program of MA in Philosophy and Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion.
Secondary Research Language Requirement
Students are required to have a reading knowledge of two secondary research languages (see page 5 above). Area faculty, in consultation with each student in their area, will decide which two languages best prepares the student for research in their field of study. Those who do not have proficiency in these languages may find their participation in some graduate seminars seriously restricted.
Students are expected to have studied at least one of these languages prior to beginning the last 48 units of the PhD program. Students are required to pass one secondary research language examination before registering for any of the last 24 semester units of their PhD program. In order to encourage students who have trouble passing the exams, as well as to encourage regular use of German and French in the context of regular graduate seminars, the following policy of deadlines and sanctions has been instituted.
1. Incoming PhD students (48-units) or 72-unit PhD students beginning the last 48-units of their program are required to attempt the exam before registration. Those who fail must attempt the exam again each time the exam is offered (August, January, May) until they pass.
2. Students who fail the exam(s) again at the beginning of their second semester in their last 48-units shall be required to do work in the language in two of their courses during that second semester.
3. If the student has not passed a language exam before registering for the last 24 units of course work, then sanctions take effect, in that the student shall be permitted to register for only two courses. During this semester, the student shall use French or German in both courses and receive private tutoring in the language. The instructors in the courses and the tutor are to submit in writing at the end of the semester a report on the student's work and progress during the semester.
4. If the student fails again before the next registration period, then she or he will register only for Doctoral Study until the exam is passed.
It is hoped that this policy will not only be a positive way of helping students to develop language tools in the context of research and course work, but also will encourage regular use of research languages in doctoral seminars.
*The second language examination must be passed before Qualifying Examinations can be scheduled.
Primary Text Language Requirement
Students will also be expected to be proficient in other languages—ancient and/or modern—necessary for the sources in their research areas, or as required by the faculty in their areas of concentration. See the individual program area sections below for specific language requirements. All language requirements must be met before taking Qualifying Examinations.
Transfer of Credit
Students may secure a Transfer Credit form in the SOR Office after they have completed 12 CGU units. No more than 24 semester-units or their equivalent may be transferred toward a PhD degree (12 units maximum for dual degree students). A minimum of 48-units of doctoral credit must be earned at CGU. The units to be transferred must be from an accredited graduate institution, with at least a grade of “B,” and be relevant to the degree program. Students wishing to transfer courses listed with a grade of “S” (satisfactory) or “Cr” (credit) or their equivalent must submit additional materials that document an equivalent grade of “B” or better. Students wishing to transfer independent or directed studies are required to submit official documentation describing the content of the course.
Time Limits and Residence Requirement
See the CGU Bulletin for rules concerning time limits and residence requirements.
Students are allowed to schedule qualifying exams after completing all of the following requirements:
- 72 units of graduate course work, at least 48 units of which must be CGU course work
- Language Requirements
- A University Transdisciplinary Course (See the CGU Bulletin)
- Area requirements such as primary text languages or major papers
Each program area defines their qualifying exams. Students are urged to plan the exams early in their course work, and to plan their courses accordingly.
The chair of the qualifying examination committee (and subsequently, the dissertation committee) is usually the student’s advisor. The other members of the committee are determined in consultation with the advisor and in accordance with the requirements of the student’s program area. This committee must include three members of the graduate faculty of the Claremont Colleges, but may also include any other available scholars crucial to the student's area of study. The SOR Dean recommends the committee members for approval by the CGU Provost.
In consultation with the qualifying exam committee, the student must negotiate dates and times of the exams and complete a schedule form at least 4 weeks prior to the first exam. (This form is available in the SOR Office.) Committee signatures are required on this form.
The written exams are taken within 14 calendar days; they are then sent to members of the student's committee, who also attend the oral exam. The oral exam is to be scheduled at least 10 calendar days after the last written exam. Qualifying exams are given during each semester. Except in extraordinary cases no qualifying exams will be given during the summer break.
Each qualifying exam will be either pass or fail. If a student fails one exam, the examiner may allow the student to re-take the exam or require additional work to meet a passing standard.
Upon successful completion of the qualifying exams, students are eligible to receive the MA degree. This does not apply to dual degree students or to students that already have a graduate degree in religion.
Advancement to Candidacy
In order to advance to candidacy there are several things that must happen. Students must form, in consultation with an advisor, a dissertation committee consisting of three members of the CGU graduate faculty. (Members of the dissertation committee may differ from those of the qualifying examination committee.) In some cases, this may be done at the same time that a student forms a qualifying examination committee. Whether before or after forming the dissertation committee, students must pass their qualifying exams to advance to candidacy. The SOR Dean recommends the dissertation committee members for approval by the CGU Provost. Students must have completed a dissertation proposal that has been approved by the dissertation committee and must submit a 350-word summary of the proposal to the SOR Office after faculty approval. Students must also notify the SOR secretary who will obtain faculty signatures on the “Advancement to Candidacy” form, which must then be submitted to and signed by the CGU Provost. Advancement to candidacy must take place at least six months prior to the date scheduled for the Dissertation Defense (Final Oral Exam).
Dissertation and Final Oral Examination (Dissertation Defense)
Dissertation Reader: All Religion PhD students are required to use the services of a dissertation reader, who will proofread the chapter and check for proper form, style, and clarity. Footnotes and bibliography will be checked against Turabian's style guide. There will be a $50.00 fee for one chapter, payable by the student to the reader. Currently, Betty Clements (Reference Librarian at CST) and Genevieve Beenen are the dissertation readers. The procedures for the reader are as follows:
1. The SOR will send the reader a list of students who are advanced to candidacy each semester.
2. The student will submit a chapter of the dissertation to the reader as soon as one is complete, but in any event by early in the semester before the expected completion of the degree (i.e., in the fall for a May degree and in the spring semester for a September or January degree). Students are urged to submit a chapter early in the process.
3. The reader will send her report on the student’s chapter to both the committee chair and the SOR. The report should be filed by the end of that semester, so that the student and the chair of the committee have seen the reader’s report before completion of the preliminary draft. The reader shall contact the chair personally if she deems it necessary. In addition to general comments, she will recommend that the student either proceed without any further readings, or that the student be required to submit the entire dissertation to her (or another reader approved by the School). In such cases, the fee is $200.00 for two full readings of the dissertation.
4. The chair of the committee must receive the reader’s report before the student may submit the preliminary draft of the dissertation to the committee.
The student may contact the Office of the Registrar or the Religion Office to obtain guidelines for preparing and submitting the dissertation. All dissertations must conform in format and style to the CGU guidelines.
The Dissertation Committee: The SOR conforms to the CGU policies on dissertation committees. The final oral committee will consist of at least three members. The chair of the committee must be a member of the “Graduate University Faculty” in Religion as identified in the Claremont Graduate University Bulletin (in rare cases, a student may petition the Graduate Faculty in Religion to approve the selection of a faculty member in Claremont who is not a member of the Graduate Faculty in Religion). With the approval of the chair and the Dean, the other two members of the committee may come from among the remaining Graduate University Faculty in Religion or other members of the CST faculty, the CGU faculty, or the Claremont Colleges’ faculties. A four-person committee may include an outside examiner, a faculty member from another institution, or a qualified practitioner. On a four-person committee, the outside examiner has a vote in the committee's proceedings only with the consent of the Dean of the SOR. The Claremont Graduate University encourages the inclusion on the committee of an expert in the student's field from outside the Claremont Colleges. (In many cases the Qualifying Exam Committee, the Dissertation Committee, and the Final Oral Exam Committee will contain the same individuals.) The Dean of the SOR recommends the names of committee members to the Provost for approval.
Drafts of the Dissertation and Scheduling the Oral Examination: A calendar for completion of dissertations is available in the SOR each semester. This calendar indicates the deadlines for submission of drafts as well as scheduling the defense and completing the final copy. Students must also consult the CGU academic calendar for the semester in which they plan to finish the requirements for the Ph.D.
The student must submit a preliminary draft of the entire dissertation to each member of the student's Dissertation Committee by the beginning of the semester in which the student hopes to graduate, in order to allow for revisions before as well as after the final oral exam. A draft for the final oral must be submitted to the entire committee at least six weeks before the planned date of the oral examination/ defense in order to allow faculty time to determine whether the defense may be scheduled (see below, “Scheduling Oral Examination”). Additional revisions may be required after the defense (see below).
Students contact the SOR Office to schedule the dissertation defense. It is the student's responsibility to find a suitable date and time for the defense to which all the committee members agree. Members of the committee must have an entire final draft of the dissertation in hand at least six weeks prior to the defense. The signed “Approval for Final Defense” form and a copy of the dissertation abstract are to be submitted to the SOR Office at least four weeks prior to the final oral itself. At that time the student should also provide the name, home address, and social security number of the outside examiner (if one is being used), so that the outside examiner may receive his or her honorarium, which does not exceed $100.
Prior to the scheduling of the defense and the signing of the defense form, it is the responsibility of the chair of a student’s dissertation committee to contact each member of the committee in order to ascertain whether the dissertation is free of any major problem (in the sense of requiring further substantive revisions in its basic argument, elaboration, structure, style, and/or methodology). If any member still discerns a major problem, the chair must convene a meeting to discuss it. Any member who must be absent shall submit a written statement regarding his or her assessment. If the committee agrees that there is a major problem, the chair will notify the student of the problem and the required revisions. No defense will be scheduled.
The defense will be scheduled only when committee members agree that the dissertation is free of any major problems and indicate that agreement as well as their commitment to attend the oral defense by signing the “Approval for Final Defense” form. A signed schedule form, however, should not be interpreted as a “guaranteed pass.” The student must still pass the oral defense, and may be required to revise the dissertation after the defense, which may result in a delay in completion of degree requirements and a delay in receiving the degree. It is the responsibility of the student and the chair to work together to see the process through with no surprises.
The final oral exam is not to be interpreted as a guidance examination on the dissertation. Rather, it is an assessment of the candidate's ability to defend the thesis against questioning from other points of view and/or critical appraisal of the candidate's scholarly abilities. It is therefore much broader than the dissertation itself, and passing means that one has satisfactorily convinced the faculty that one can defend one's scholarly work among peers. After the candidate has passed the final oral examination, the committee signs the form of recommendation for the PhD degree.
It should be clear that a student may fail the oral examination or be required to complete revisions before final approval, which may delay the student’s completion of the degree to a subsequent semester. In the case of failure to pass the final oral examination, the candidate may be permitted, on recommendation of the examining faculty, to take a second exam not less than three months nor more than one calendar year after the first exam. If the results of the second exam are unsatisfactory, no further exam will be permitted except upon recommendation of the SOR Faculty and with the approval of the Dean.
If the committee has required dissertation revisions, the Chair of the committee and any other person designated by the oral examining committee shall verify the revisions before the committee members sign the signature page. The student submits a copy of the title page signed by the Chair of the Dissertation Committee and the abstract for inclusion in the student's file when the revised dissertation is ready for submission. (It is the student's responsibility to obtain all necessary signatures.)
For information regarding dissertation submission, publication, fees, etc. contact the CGU Student Affairs Office at (909) 621-8263.
For information specific to your area of study, please see the School of Religion handbook.