In the fall, the department conducts a review of each second-year student's entire performance thus far. It consists of a review of academic materials, an interview with a panel of three or four faculty members, and a recommendation by the panel to the Third Term Review Committee who then complete a written report determining whether a student should or should not continue in the PhD program. The 3-4 person faculty panel includes the English 3rd Term Review Committee Chair and the English/Women’s and Gender Studies Departmental Liaison who is appointed by the Chair of English. This sub-committee meets individually with each joint student, and they then meet with the entire English Third Term Review committee; lingering issues are discussed and a report is sent to the student. Students are invited to discuss the report with either or both grad chairs. Any recommendations to terminate joint program students must be approved by both the English Department Graduate Chair and the Doctoral Programs Committee.
The Purpose of the Third Term Review
Our third-term review serves some of the same functions as the comprehensive or qualifying examinations often found in other programs. Taking into account this program's early candidacy requirement, Rackham treats the review as a necessary component of a student’s qualification for candidacy. In addition to its constructive advice and counseling, the review also serves as the point at which a student is granted or denied permission to continue in the program. We begin with the presumption that every student matriculated into the program is capable of passing through this review without difficulty. Nonetheless, negative reviews do occur, and in some cases this means that a student is removed from the program.
The other, more enjoyable purpose of the review is to provide forthright response and counseling about the student’s early professional orientation, and to insure that each student has begun to plan for the rest of his or her study in ways that are responsible, practical, and professional. The review will affirm strengths and, where necessary, identify weaknesses to be remedied. It is best to plan ahead during your first year with this review in mind; it is important, for instance, to seek out and receive forthright evaluation and advice from your instructors about the quality and direction of your work during your first year. Don’t avoid the professor who seems reserved about your classroom contributions—find out why and do your best to benefit from his/her constructive advice and criticism. You should also select courses thoughtfully in order to achieve a good balance between work in your intended area of concentration and in areas previously unfamiliar to you. The review panels will consider breadth and reasonable coverage in coursework and the student's familiarity with the disciplines of Women’s and Gender Studies and English generally, as well as quality of work and plans for subsequent specialization.
The materials considered include:
- academic records (graduate and undergraduate)
- brief written evaluations from all first-year instructors
- an unrevised essay chosen by the student from among those written in a first-year course
- a brief written statement by the student about future plans.
Students must submit the unrevised essay as well as the written statement to the English Graduate Office by early August prior to their second year.