Program Timeline

Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

During the first five years of study, students complete program requirements such as coursework, the MA thesis, comprehensive exams, and the proposal of the dissertation. This is also the time in which students should complete their required teaching. After students propose their dissertation and enter candidacy, they are expected to apply for dissertation fellowships to aid in completing their studies. Below is a sample timeline showing how a NELC student typically progresses through department requirements in the first five years. 

Students consult with their advisors and their Director of Graduate Studies to determine how to complete their studies and expeditiously fulfill their degree requirements; arrangements vary depending upon each individual student's interests, field of study, and prior preparation. All students must complete the requirements below. Individual fields of study establish specific coursework and comprehensive exam guidelines. 

Year 1

  • Coursework: Students generally take three courses per quarter. At least nine courses should be completed in the first year.
  • Modern Language Requirement:  At least one modern language requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the first year. French and German are most commonly used, but any modern language that a student and advisor agree is relevant to the student's specific interests will qualify. Modern language requirements are met by high-passing a reading comprehension exam.
  • MA Thesis: A topic must be identified by the end of spring quarter.

Year 2

  • Coursework: By the end of year two students need to have completed at least eighteen courses.
  • Modern Languages: Complete the second modern language requirement.
  • MA Thesis: Submit to NELC office by the first day of spring quarter.

Year 3

  • Coursework: Complete the required twenty-seven courses. Some fields of study will require coursework beyond this minimum. 
  • Comprehensive Exams: Students may take exams in year three if prepared.
  • Pedagogy Requirement: Complete the Chicago Center for Teaching's "Course Design and College Teaching" course.
  • Teaching: Fulfill one GAI point by serving as a course assistant, language assistant, or writing intern.

Year 4

  • Comprehensive Exams: Exams must be completed by the end of summer quarter of year four.
  • Dissertation Proposal: Students have six months from the day comp exams are graded to propose the dissertation and advance to candidacy.
    • NOTE: Per Division rules, in order to qualify for the fourth summer stipend, students must advance to candidacy by the end of spring quarter of year four. Some fellowships, such as the Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowship, also require that students be in candidacy by the end of year four.
  • Teaching: Fulfill two GAI points by serving as a course assistant, language assistant, or writing intern.

Year 5

  • Dissertation Proposal: Students must advance to candidacy by the end of year five if they have not already done so.
  • Teaching: Fulfill two GAI points by serving as a course assistant, language assistant, or writing intern. Student are also able to complete their teaching requirement serving as a student lecturer.

Students in year five are encouraged to apply for dissertation completion fellowships through the Humanities Division, or through an external funder. The fellowship team at UChicagoGRAD has excellent resources to aid in this process.