Doctorate in Philosophy (Ph.D.)

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Course Work

The number of course credits required is 48, of which at least 33 must have been taken at Rutgers. There is also a minimum requirement of 24 research credits. All graduate students that teach must take the Methodology of Teaching course. Students must also take two courses in another program participating in the Transliteratures Project (Classics, Comparative Literature, French, German, Italian, and Spanish & Portuguese).

Students who come to Rutgers with an MA degree in Italian from another university, a Laurea (“vecchio ordinamento”), or an Italian Ph.D. are admitted on a conditional basis. After completing 12 credits with grades of B or better, the Italian Graduate Faculty will determine, on a case by case basis, how many courses taken at other institutions will be accepted toward the Doctorate at Rutgers. However, in no case will doctoral candidates take less than 11 graduate courses at Rutgers.

Foreign Language Requirements

The candidate must demonstrate advanced reading ability in two languages other than English and Italian, one from group A. (French or Spanish) and one from group B. (German or Latin). Knowledge of other languages, if relevant to the candidate's research, may be counted toward the language requirement upon approval of the Graduate Director. In order to satisfy this requirement, the student may (1) take the graduate school exam; (2) pass summer courses of “Language for Reading” courses with grades of B or better; or (3) count four semesters of a language in college, with grades of B or better. 

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination consists of one six-hour written exam to be taken in one day. The candidate will answer four questions out of nine, one on ’200-’300, one on ’400-’500, one on ’600-’700, one on ’800-’900” (this last section will have 3 questions instead of 2—one of them will be on cinema). The answers should demonstrate the candidate’s knowledge of canonical texts and should be specific and concise (800 to 1,000 words each). Two questions must be answered in Italian and two in English.

The candidate is expected to have completed at least 30 credits before taking the comprehensive examinations and to take the exams within one year of ending his/her course work.

In case of failure, the exam must be taken again within the next two sessions and may not be retaken more than once. The reading list for the Comprehensive Examination is available in the departmental office.

Exam Sessions

Exams will be scheduled three times each year: in early September, late January, and early May.


The grades assigned are High Pass, Pass, Terminal Pass, and Fail.

Ph. D. Qualifying Examination

No later than the end of the candidate’s third year and in consultation with the Graduate Director, an Examining Committee of three faculty members is formed in order to administer the qualifying examination.

The Ph.D. qualifying examination consists of three four-hour written exams testing the candidate’s knowledge of two centuries related to the prospective dissertation and her/his familiarity with a topic of her/his choice. The first two examinations will be based on two reading lists for the two centuries prepared by the candidate and approved by the Examining Committee. The third exam is based on a bibliography of approximately forty (40) titles (articles, essays, and books) concerning the topic of the prospective dissertation and compiled by the candidate. At least 10 of these titles must be monographs. After approving this bibliography, the three members of the Examining Committee will devise two questions for each exam and the student will answer one of these questions for each exam. The language of the examination is the same as the language chosen by the candidate for her/his dissertation.

- The qualifying examinations will be taken in the course of one week, on three days, beginning on Monday (see exam sessions).

- The Ph.D. qualifying examination should be taken no later than the end of the fourth year.

Exam Sessions

Exams will be scheduled three times each year: on the second Monday of September, the last Monday of January, and the third Monday of May.


The grades assigned are High Pass, Pass, and Fail.

Dissertation Prospectus

After successful completion of the Qualifying Examination and in consultation with the Director of the Graduate Program, a Dissertation Committee of four faculty members, three from the Department, one from outside, is formed. The Committee will assist the candidate in preparing the prospectus.

Three months after the Ph.D. Qualifying examination, the candidate must submit an advanced draft of the prospectus to the members of the Dissertation Committee. The prospectus should be 10-12 pages and should describe the dissertation project, including primary materials to be investigated, the approach to be taken, the relation of this project to existing scholarly-critical work in the field, and a comprehensive bibliography of relevant scholarship and primary materials. The language of the prospectus is the same as the language chosen by the candidate for her/his dissertation.

The committee will either approve the prospectus and allow the student to continue on toward the dissertation prospectus defense or inform the student of areas that need further preparation and set the conditions necessary to assure that the student completes the additional required preparation.

The Prospectus Defense

The approved prospectus will be presented formally to the faculty and the graduate students of the Department in a public defense.


The candidate must submit a completed version of the dissertation one month before the official university deadline of the semester in which s/he intends to receive the degree. This will allow time for final comments and revisions, and for the production of the revised manuscript