Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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The program for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in NESA at The Ohio State University has as its aim a concentration and breadth of study designed to foster productive and independent scholarship. The program encompasses advanced course work, the writing of independent research papers at the seminar level, the successful completion of written candidacy examinations, an oral examination, followed by admission to candidacy for the degree, original research, and ultimately the submission and defense of a dissertation that is a contribution to scholarly knowledge. The curriculum for the Ph.D. in NESA is designed to provide and maintain a context and atmosphere in which scholarship and creative activity can flourish.

If you have any questions about the requirements feel free to consult the NESA Department Handbook, the Graduate School Handbook, or ask the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Academic Program Coordinator.

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Coursework

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All students are expected to have completed a relevant Masters-level degree prior to admission to the NESA PhD program.  Upon enrollment, the Masters degree will be transferred as a bloc of 30 OSU graduate-level credit hours to count toward the minimum 80 graduate level credit hours required for an OSU PhD.  Students are expected to earn the remaining 50 graduate level credit hours. To obtain the remaining 50 hours (80 total) of graduate level coursework the following courses are needed (Expanded further in the dropdowns below):

  1. Core Seminar (1 Credit Hour)
  2. Two Elective Seminars (6 Credit Hours)
  3. Six 5000+ Departmental Courses (18 Credit Hours)
  4. Five 7000+ Advanced-Level Courses (15 Credit Hours)

It is also recommended that PhD students have 68 credits of classes and have 12 credits for Dissertation writing.

No more than 12 of the 50 credit hours in total may be taken as non-graded (S/U or PA/NP). If you take more than 50 credit hours, as long as you complete 38 credit hours graded, all other courses may be non-graded.

Beyond the departmental course requirements (#3) and the requirements, any course at the 5000-level or higher, if approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, may count towards the degree. All courses are chosen in consultation with the student's Advisory Committee.

If you have any questions about the requirements feel free to consult the NESA Department Handbook, the Graduate School Handbook, or ask the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Academic Program Coordinator.

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Students MUST take the following course

  • NESA 5101 Introduction to the Field of NESA (1 credit hour)

​(students who have already taken this course are not required to repeat it, nor may they repeat it for credit.)

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Students Will Take 2 of the 6 Courses Listed:

  • CS 7360 Theorizing Culture
  • CS 7370 Theorizing Religion
  • HIST 7900 Colloquium in the Philosophy of History, Historiography, and the Historian’s Skills
  • NESA/CLAS 5401 Methodologies for the Study of Ancient Religions
  • NESA5568 / CS 5668 Studies in Orality and Literacy
  • NESA/CS 7301 Theorizing Literature

[students who have already taken one or two of these courses while pursuing MAs are not required to take more of them, but may do so for credit.]

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Students Will Take 6 Courses:

  • At least eighteen (18) units of credit at the 5000-level or higher must come from courses bearing the prefixes managed by the NESA department: NESA, ARABIC, ISLAM, HEBREW, PERSIAN, and TURKISH.
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Students will take at least fifteen (15) credit hours at the 7000- or 8000-level. 

Courses in this category may also be used to satisfy other requirements.

Beyond the restrictions above, any course at the 5000-level or higher, if approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, may count towards the degree. All courses are chosen in consultation with the student's Advisory Committee.

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Modern Scholarship Language

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Students must demonstrate reading competence in at least two languages of modern secondary scholarship, usually French and German, by one of the following means:

  • receiving a grade of B or higher in either FRENCH 6571 French Reading for Research I and/or GERMAN 6101 Basic German for Graduate Students. [note: neither of these courses count toward the minimum 30 graduate credit hours coursework requirement.], or
  • passing the proficiency exam [Germanic or FRIT] offered by the relevant department, or
  • petitioning the Graduate Studies Committee to consider other evidence of competence, such as an undergraduate major or minor in the language, or
  • passing a 6000-level or higher-level course taught in the language.

Any proposed alternates to German or French must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.  Competence in English is assumed as it is the medium of instruction at OSU and does not satisfy the requirement.

If you are doing a proficiency exam with a department please reach out to the department at the beginning of the semester to confirm their requirements.

French - Please reach out to FRIT and follow the guidelines found at https://frit.osu.edu/graduate/graduate-reading-proficiency-exam/french-reading-proficiency-exam

NOTE: French have a specific review process with dates and guidelines. Please confirm their updated procedures at the beginning of the semester you plan to take the translation exam.

German - Please reach out to Germanic and have your advisor fill out the following form found at https://germanic.osu.edu/german-reading-exam

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Declared Specializations

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All graduate students in NESA receive PhDs in “Near Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures,” not in Hebrew, Arabic, Islamic Studies, or another area. Nevertheless, students should designate two fields of study in conventional terms, in consultation with their academic Advisory Committee of two faculty members, as their fields of specialty. A few examples of possible fields are “Medieval Judaism,” “the Ancient Near East,” “Modern Middle Eastern Societies,” and “Pre-modern Iran,” with innumerable further possibilities. These specializations will guide students in their Candidacy exam topics and self-branding for the job market.  Each student’s Advisory Committee consults with the NESA chair and affected faculty to ensure that advisees have sufficient graduate courses to train them for Candidacy exams in their two fields. The declaration of these specializations enables the faculty to plan appropriate offerings effectively. These declared specializations may change by agreement of advisors and advisees.

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Near Eastern and South Asian Research Languages

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All students must pursue advanced training in the research languages required for their respective fields of specialization – i.e., the languages taught and researched by NESA faculty. Normally this entails at least one course per semester in the main research language for the duration of coursework and regular or sustained coursework in a second language. This is to prepare them for the Near Eastern or South Asian research language exams and ultimately for conducting advanced research using these languages. It is the student’s responsibility to prepare for these examinations by taking advantage of every opportunity for training and advancement in the language. It is the responsibility of the student’s advisors to oversee the student’s preparation, by ensuring the offering of relevant courses, including independent study sessions where needed, to the student.

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PhD students must demonstrate ability in two different Near Eastern or South Asian research languages by examination prior to scheduling the PhD Candidacy exams. These translation exams should be taken as soon as the student is ready, without delay.  Students do not take the Candidacy exams and proceed to dissertation work without first having passed the translation examinations, though both the translation and Candidacy exams may be scheduled for the same semester.

There are two ways to demonstrate research competence in a Near Eastern or South Asian language in lieu of a translation exam.  Students may waive either their primary or secondary language or both translation exams, but may waive only one by each of the following means (i.e., may only claim native proficiency in one language, and/or can only cite coursework in lieu of one exam).

a.  Course work in lieu of one examination. The examination for one of these two, conceived as a secondary language in the student’s research, may be replaced by coursework: at least nine units of credit in courses in the language – including undergraduate, introductory-level coursework - with a grade of B+ or higher in each course. Typically this entails three semesters of work in the language. (Where possible, students are encouraged to pursue more than nine units of credit, proceeding to the highest level of ability attainable in the second Near Eastern research language, although this is not a requirement.)

b.  Waiver of one exam for native speaker of Near Eastern or South Asian research language. The requirement of a translation exam is waived for one Near Eastern research language for students who speak one of their Near Eastern or South Asian research languages natively (from childhood) and hold a degree from a university in which regular instruction is conducted in that language. The waiver does not hold when the research language is a pre-modern variety of the student’s native language (e.g., classical Arabic studied by a speaker of modern Arabic). Ability in different dialects or pre-modern varieties of a given language cannot be credited as more than one language for the purposes of these exams (e.g., modern and Ottoman Turkish do not count as two languages; classical Arabic and Judaeo-Arabic do not count as two languages).

Translation examinations are arranged by the student’s advisory committee (primary and associate advisor) but the examiners may include other faculty with the relevant language expertise. Translation examinations allow three hours for the translation of three passages of texts representing typical prose, poetry, or both, in one language.  PhD students taking two such examinations do so on different days.  At the discretion of the examiners, translation examinations may also include prompts for specific commentary or a short essay on the translated materials. Standards for the examinations in research languages necessarily vary according to the nature of the material extant in the different languages.  The goal is to demonstrate the competence to conduct research on texts in the language.  The student’s advisors decide whether the student may choose to employ a lexicon during the examination.  Examinations written with the help of a lexicon will be evaluated more strictly.

Grades include Pass or Fail.  Students who fail an exam may re-take the examination in that language once at a later date after suitable preparation, with different texts set by the examiners.  Students who fail the translation exam twice cannot retake the examination, cannot complete the degree program, and will not register for the next semester.

Two faculty members designated by the student’s advisory committee, in consultation with the DGS, evaluate each translation examination. In case of a disagreement in results, a third faculty member is recruited by the DGS to review the examination and to decide. When only one faculty member is available having expertise in the language of the examination, a second faculty member nevertheless reviews the examination and its results for fairness. Extradepartmental graduate faculty may participate in the administration and evaluation of these examinations.

When no faculty member has expertise in a given Near Eastern or South Asian language, examinations for that language are not available and will not be administered.

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Candidacy Exams

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The full and authoritative articulation of policies governing Candidacy and Candidacy exams for all students appears in the Graduate School Handbook sections 7.4 through 7.8.  The policies and guidelines articulated at nelc.osu.edu are intended as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, the policies stated in the Graduate School Handbook; in the event of any apparent contradiction or conflict between the two, the Graduate School Handbook should be understood as the definitive resource.

Scheduling

Ideally, students are preparing for Candidacy exams throughout their graduate work, and students are encouraged to plan the date of their Candidacy exams as soon as they pass their translation exams (For both NESA-taught languages, and modern scholarship languages). The Candidacy examinations must be taken by the end of the student’s third year, unless special provisions are made by the Graduate Studies Committee in consultation with the department chair. 

To schedule your exams first, work with your advisor to get a committee formed, and thus your reading list for exams. This should be likely figured out end of your second year, to allow you a semester to a year to read through your examination material. Once ready, make sure to enroll in NELC 7998 and work with your advisor and exam committee to schedule your written and oral exams examination within the same semester. You should also with your advisor and the exam committee and determine the specific content and format of the exam (see below for details).

Students must complete all of the individual requirements listed in categories I. through V.1 prior to the commencement of their Candidacy exams.  This includes all coursework and modern scholarship language requirements, the receipt of formal Graduate Studies Committee approval for declared specializations, Near Eastern or South Asian research language requirements, and translation exams.  By that time, students should have accumulated at least 68 graduate credit hours; this will leave 12 units of dissertation work over four semesters to count towards the PhD.

Content & Format

Student will take three written examinations in three different fields, followed by a two- hour oral examination within one month of the completion of the written portion of the examination.  To assess the three exams a Candidacy Exam Committee will be selected consisting of the student’s advisor and at least three other faculty members with expertise in the areas of the examinations. At least three of the four must be members of the NESA graduate faculty; an outside committee member can be included with the approval of the NESA Graduate Studies Committee.

After the written exams are complete, reach out to the Academic Program Coordinator and your advisor to confirm oral exam within a month from the written exam, and submit paperwork of readiness via GRADFORMS, at least two weeks prior to your oral exam. The GRADFORMS will need to be completed by both the Academic Program Coordinator and Advisor to notify the Graduate School of Candidacy Examination. Make sure to plan ahead and have a buffer on the timeline in the case that there are delays to the oral exam to allow for you to meet Graduate School policies.

Completion & Candidacy Status

If the student’s candidacy exams are not found to be satisfactory, the student can make another attempt with the permission of the Graduate School. The Candidacy Examination Committee must remain unchanged. A repeated attempt requires another oral examination to be scheduled, again via GRADFORMS.

Once completed and found to be satisfactory, each examiner on the committee will share their vote with the Graduate School within 24 hours to confirm Candidacy of graduate student.

Students officially advance to the status of Doctoral Candidate at the start of the semester following their successful completion of Candidacy exams, and status as a Doctoral Candidate expires after 5 calendar years for any student not having completed and successfully defended their dissertation.

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Dissertation

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Once advancing to Candidacy status, there are four steps to completing the doctoral degree: Appointment of Dissertation Committee, Writing and submission of dissertation prospectus, researching and writing the dissertation, and the final oral examination.

For a Complete checklist of needs please refer to the Graduate School's Final Semester Procedures and Timeline.

Dissertation committee

The student must select members of a Dissertation Committee, consisting of at least 3 members of the Graduate Faculty (possibly but not necessarily drawn from the membership of Candidacy Exam Committee) and chaired by a dissertation advisor.  The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Prospectus

The student then writes a dissertation prospectus and submits it to the Committee. The prospectus outlines the proposed research project of the student's dissertation, indicates the significance of the project, and explains the methods to be used. The dissertation prospectus is normally fifteen to thirty pages, including extensive bibliography.

The dissertation prospectus cannot be a statement of findings before the research is carried out and written. It raises questions and issues and outlines the methods by which the answers will be sought. Normally the dissertation prospectus ranges in length from five to twenty pages, including an extensive representative bibliography.

The prospectus should be submitted soon after the Candidacy Exams, certainly within one semester. If the student has passed the Candidacy Exams at the end of the second year of PhD work, then the immediately subsequent summer is usually sufficient to write the prospectus.

Research & writing

The Dissertation Committee reviews the prospectus and suggests changes before it is approved. Once the prospectus is approved by the committee, the student works continuously on researching and writing the dissertation.

Once finished writing, make sure to apply for Graduation and the application for Final Examination via GRADFORMS. The graduation application must be submitted before the 3rd Friday of the term when the student is to defend their dissertation (See Graduate School Calendar for details), and the application for final examination must be submitted by the student and approved by the defense committee at least two weeks before the defense date. The defense exam and report must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School by their required date, usually 4 Fridays prior to Commencement (See Graduate School for further details).

The Graduate School also requires a format review of the dissertation at least two weeks prior to defense, either a complete dissertation or DMA document draft. Students can submit a complete dissertation draft to the Graduate School either remotely at grad-schoolformatreview@osu.edu or in-person on a walk-in basis at 247 University Hall, Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the autumn and spring semesters; Summer hours 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (See Graduate School for further details on format and submitting procedures). 

Defense

Once the dissertation is completed and submitted, the student undergoes a two-hour Final Oral Examination on the dissertation. The Final Oral Exam Committee consists of the Dissertation Committee with the addition of a Graduate Faculty Representative appointed by the Graduate School. 

Once the exam is complete, the Graduate Faculty Representative will make their report and submit it to the Graduate School immediately afterwards. If there is the case where the dissertation needs to have revisions made, the student must do so. Once finalized, the student must submit their dissertation via OhioLink (See Graduate School Handbook for details).

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Funding

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Numerous avenues of possible financial assistance are available for those pursuing the Ph.D. in the Department of Near Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures (e.g., University Graduate Fellowships, Foreign Language Area Scholarships, Graduate Teaching Associateships, Graduate Research Associateships, among others).

A prestigious funding opportunity is the University Fellowship, which carries no departmental duties. It is offered by the Graduate School of The Ohio State University. Applicants do not apply directly for the University Fellowship. Rather, the Graduate Studies Committee, which reviews applications, nominates outstanding candidates in order for them to be considered for this award by the Graduate School. If an applicant hopes for the opportunity to be nominated, the Graduate Studies Advisory Committee must have the complete application no later than December 15.

Students who are qualified may apply to be a Graduate Teaching Associate and benefit from an extensive training and mentoring system.

If you do get a GTAship there is a training session in August required by the Center for Literatures, Languages, and Cultures

Additional sources of funding can be found through different partners around campus. Below is a non-exhaustive list of potential sources of funding.

  1. Can investigate college level funding through ASC
  2. Lori Fireman with the Melton Center for Jewish Studies
  3. The Mershon Center for International Security Studies has several grants and scholarships
  4. CSEEES (Center for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies) FLAS for Turkish and Uzbek
  5. MESC (Middle East Studies Center)
  6. CMRS (Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies)
  7.  Council of Graduate Students
  8.  Graduate School Research Resources
  9.  Office of International Affairs

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PhD Requirements Prior to AU16

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Coursework:

1. Core seminar

a. [enrollment prior to Autumn 2016]

  • NELC 5568 Studies in Orality and Literacy (3 credit hours)

2. Elective seminar(s)

a. [enrollment prior to Autumn 2016] - One of four courses (3 credit hours) 

  • CS 7360 Theorizing Culture
  • CS 7370 Theorizing Religion
  • NELC/CLAS 5401 Methodologies for the Study of Ancient Religions
  • NELC/CS 7301 Theorizing Literature

3. Departmental coursework

a. [enrollment prior to Autumn 2016]

  • At least twenty-four (24) units of NELC courses in a primary language and culture area of study at the 5000-level and above.
  • At least nine (9) units of NELC courses in a secondary language and culture area. These may be taken at an elementary or intermediate level (i.e. 1000-, 2000-, 3000-, and 4000-level) if necessary, but such courses do not count toward the 80 required to earn the PhD.

4. Allied / Ancillary Field

[only for enrollment prior to August 2016]

A minimum of fifteen (15) units in an ancillary or allied field (minor field), which may follow a disciplinary, theoretical, geographical, or methodological plan. This may include language courses at the 5000-level and higher. The rationale for this cluster of courses requires approval by your advisor.

5. Advanced-level coursework

a. [enrollment prior to Autumn 2016] At least eighteen (18) units of credit at the 7000- or 8000-level among all the courses beyond the MA.

6. Assessment & credit hour basis

No more than twelve (12) of the fifty units in total may be taken as non-graded (S/U or PA/NP).

Beyond these restrictions, any course at the 5000-level or higher, if approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, may count towards the degree.  All courses are chosen in consultation with the student's Advisory Committee.

 

Modern Scholarship Languages:

Students must demonstrate reading competence in at least two languages of modern secondary scholarship, usually French and German, by one of the following means:

  • receiving a grade of B or higher in either FRENCH 6571 French Reading for Research I or GERMAN 6101 Basic German for Graduate Students. [note: neither of these courses count toward the minimum 30 graduate credit hours coursework requirement.], or
  • passing the proficiency exam [germanic.osu.edu/german-reading-exam or frit.osu.edu/grad/proficiency-exams/french] offered by the relevant department, or
  • petitioning the Graduate Studies Committee to consider other evidence of competence, such as an undergraduate major or minor in the language, or
  • passing a 6000-level or higher-level course taught in the language.

Any proposed alternates to German or French must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.  Competence in English is assumed as it is the medium of instruction at OSU and does not satisfy the requirement.

 

Near Eastern and South Asian Research Languages

All students must pursue advanced training in the research languages required for their respective fields of specialization – i.e., the languages taught and researched by NESA faculty. Normally this entails at least one course per semester in the main research language for the duration of coursework and regular or sustained coursework in a second language. This is to prepare them for the Near Eastern or South Asian research language exams and ultimately for conducting advanced research using these languages. It is the student’s responsibility to prepare for these examinations by taking advantage of every opportunity for training and advancement in the language. It is the responsibility of the student’s advisors to oversee the student’s preparation, by ensuring the offering of relevant courses, including independent study sessions where needed, to the student.

 

Dissertation

Once advancing to Candidacy status, there are four steps to completing the doctoral degree: Appointment of Dissertation Committee, Writing and submission of dissertation prospectus, researching and writing the dissertation, and the final oral examination.

1. dissertation committee

The student must select members of a Dissertation Committee, consisting of at least 3 members of the Graduate Faculty (possibly but not necessarily drawn from the membership of Candidacy Exam Committee) and chaired by a dissertation advisor.  The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.

2. prospectus

The student then writes a dissertation prospectus and submits it to the Committee. The prospectus outlines the proposed research project of the student's dissertation, indicates the significance of the project, and explains the methods to be used. The dissertation prospectus is normally fifteen to thirty pages, including extensive bibliography.
 

The dissertation prospectus cannot be a statement of findings before the research is carried out and written. It raises questions and issues and outlines the methods by which the answers will be sought. Normally the dissertation prospectus ranges in length from five to twenty pages, including an extensive representative bibliography.

The prospectus should be submitted soon after the Candidacy Exams, certainly within one semester. If the student has passed the Candidacy Exams at the end of the second year of PhD work, then the immediately subsequent summer is usually sufficient to write the prospectus.

3. research & writing

The Dissertation Committee reviews the prospectus and suggests changes before it is approved. Once the prospectus is approved by the committee, the student works continuously on researching and writing the dissertation.

4. defense

Once the dissertation is completed and submitted, the student undergoes a two-hour Final Oral Examination on the dissertation. The Final Oral Exam Committee consists of the Dissertation Committee with the addition of a Graduate Faculty Representative appointed by the Graduate School.

 

[policies for students enrolling prior to Autumn 2016 approved by Council of Academic Affairs Spring 2012 and updated Autumn 2013; policies for students enrolling Autumn 2016 and after approved by Council of Academic Affairs, June 22, 2016]

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Graduate Student Grievances

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When concerns arise or persist, the graduate student ombudsperson is an impartial resource that can help graduate students explore options in resolving their concerns. Generally, graduate students should aim to address and resolve concerns within their department. Graduate students are encouraged to discuss concerns with their advisor first. If concerns remain, graduate students should then reach out to the program graduate studies chair. Further unresolved concerns should be communicated to the department chair. If the concerns cannot be resolved internally within the department, the graduate student is encouraged to contact the assistant dean for graduate studies within the College of Arts and Sciences. In situations where the student believes the issue has not been resolved within the College, they can request further review from the Graduate School.