Italian Studies

The Ph.D. Year by Year

Each year of the Ph.D. program has specific requirements. This overview gives a general outline of the entire program.

First Year of Graduate Study

In the first year, graduate students normally take eight courses, including the year-long Colloquium (one credit) as well as other required courses, in particular the Teaching Methodology course, usually taught in the Spring semester (see the complete list of required courses below). All students receive a mid-year evaluation from the DGS, after the completion of the fall semester coursework. The faculty mentor assigned to each student upon entering the program will serve as the student's advisor for the first academic year.

The Italian Studies Colloquium is a bi-weekly forum and seminar for an exchange of ideas and work of the community of Italian scholars at Brown and invited outside scholars
Fall 2024 Courses available to graduate students in the Italian Studies concentration.

First Year Review

At the end of the first year, each student will participate in a comprehensive review of his or her progress in the program. This review by an ad-hoc Graduate Committee (GC), including the DGS and two faculty members familiar with the student's work, will be based on a sample of work completed during the year (e.g. seminar papers) and on course performance reports by the student’s instructors. The GC will meet with the student to discuss the materials submitted and the student’s performance and to advise the student about possible fields for the Preliminary Examination. On the basis of the First Year Review, the GC will make a recommendation to the department as to whether the student may continue in the Ph.D. program.

Second Year of Graduate Study

In the second year students take six courses and usually complete remaining course requirements. They are expected to teach under the direct supervision of the Director of Language Studies. Students are also expected to present a paper at the Colloquium, reflecting their research in progress.

Preliminary Examination Committee

By the end of their third semester, students should form a Preliminary Examination committee (PEC). The chair of the PEC will be designated by the student in consultation with the DGS, according to the student’s research interests and period and/or area of studies. It is the student’s responsibility to approach a prospective chair and ask whether he or she is willing to serve on the PEC. The student must then enroll in an independent study (Prelims Preparation) with the chair of the PEC and work on the composition of the first, or core list. Two additional members of the PEC (at least one of which, in addition to the chair, must be a core or affiliated member of IS) will be selected by the students in consultation with the chair, according to the subject of the reading lists proposed by the student. Students are expected to have the three PE lists (core list, theoretical/methodological, and subject specific lists) approved by the PEC and the expected date of their PE ratified by the DGS, by May 15 of the Spring semester. It is expected that they will spend the summer preparing for the PE.

Third Year of Graduate Study

In the third year students usually complete the minimum teaching requirement (two years as Teaching Assistants) and remaining coursework, including all core and distribution requirements, when necessary. They are expected to complete the preliminary examination (PE) by the beginning of the Spring semester (January 20). 

Dissertation Preparation

Following the successful completion of the PE, students should proceed to designate a Dissertation Advisor (DA) and form their Dissertation Committee (DC). The DC can be the same as the PEC but this is not required. At least two members of the DC must be core or affiliated faculty members of IS.

List of Core and Affiliated Faculty

One member can be external (from another program at Brown or another university). The DC should not have more than four members in total. It is the student’s responsibility to approach a prospective DA and ask whether he or she is willing to serve in such capacity.

Dissertation Prospectus

During the Spring semester of their third year, students will work with the DA on a Dissertation Prospectus (DP) which, when the DA approves it, will be submitted to the other members of the DC. The student is expected to schedule a defense of the DP with the DC by the end of the Spring semester (sixth semester in the program). The defense should be completed by the end of the seventh semester (December of the Fourth Year in the program). With the assistance of their DA and DC, third-year students are also expected to draft and submit applications for external support.

Subsequent Years

Fourth Year

By the end of the fourth year, students will have completed:

  • All coursework (24 course credits earned, including up to eight credits transferred from a previous M.A., or Laurea Specialistica),
  • The residency requirement,
  • The language requirement (one language other than English and Italian). With the DGS approval, the language requirement can be fulfilled by one of the eight transferred credit courses. 

The fourth year is normally devoted to researching the dissertation topic on a dissertation fellowship, including traveling to libraries and archives.

Fifth and Sixth Years

During their fifth and sixth year, students work to complete and defend their dissertation. They are expected to present their research in progress (usually a chapter from their dissertation) at the Colloquium. They are also expected to teach, when in residence with no external support. Preparation for applying for teaching and research positions, the job interview process, and related issues typically occur in their final year (fifth or sixth).