PhD Degree Requirements

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Josh, Football Landscape # 3 (Notre Dame vs. St. Thomas More, Lafayette, LA), and Tyler from the High School Football series (2007) by Catherine Opie, Professor of Art at UCLA



See Prospective Students


The Graduate Coordinator provides assistance and general information about policies and procedures, funding opportunities and resources. In addition, entering graduate students are assigned a faculty advisor to assist in research planning and other substantive decisions. Students may change faculty advisors at any time, but all advisors must be Gender Studies faculty (see the list of faculty on the Gender Studies website).  Students must inform the graduate advisor about any changes in faculty advisor.

Course Requirements

Doctoral students are required to complete 60 units. Units beyond the minimum will consist of practicums, 500-level courses or additional classroom units to maintain full-time students status, which is a minimum of 12-units per quarter.

Required courses include:

  • 16 units of Gender Studies core courses: 201, 202, 210, and 203 (Research Methods)
  • 44 units of electives, none of which can be 500-level, teaching practicum, or language courses (of the 44 units, 8 of these may be upper division undergraduate courses).

Please Note

  • Students are expected to be full time and enroll in 12 units per quarter.  Four of these units may be from the 500-level series upon approval of faculty member and Vice Chair.  500 level courses do not count toward degree required units.
  • Teaching assistants should enroll in Gender Studies 375 each quarter they hold a teaching appointment. These units will not count toward the degree requirements, but may be part of a 12-unit full-time course load.
  • Students should enroll in to 12 units of 599 (dissertation research) each quarter while completing their dissertation.

Responsible Research Skills

Guided by the faculty advisor, and designed to meet the student’s research needs to successfully complete their dissertation, students may be required to take a second language, quantitative or other data collecting methods courses, IRB, computer technology skills, and/or any other skills that are necessary before advancing to candidacy.  We will provide support and guidance through the student’s primary advisor and graduate vice chair in workshops that will work to move students to completion of a high-quality dissertation.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

Before embarking on the dissertation, Ph.D. students must pass two written and one oral examination.  The written exams test the student’s understanding of Gender Studies as a discipline (a “breadth” requirement first year exam paper) and of her/his major fields (a “depth” requirement).  The oral examination is a defense of the student’s dissertation proposal.  No oral defense of the final completed dissertation is required.

First Year Exam

The first written exam tests basic knowledge and understanding of the field of Gender Studies – including feminist theory, current and historical debates within the field, methodological and pedagogical issuess, this exam is taken after completion of the first year core course series (GS 201, 202, 203):

  • One 20-page paper that shows your critical and analytical skills and integrates material from the core sequence (201, 202, 203). The deadline for the first year exam paper is the first day of fall quarter of the student’s 2nd year.

A meeting with the core instructors will be arranged for the first year cohort in spring quarter to prepare for this exam paper.

The first-year exam is graded by at least two faculty, as designated by the Chair and Vice Chair (usually the instructors for the core courses).  Evaluating faculty members must find the exam satisfactory in order for the student to pass.  All students must pass this exam before being allowed to advance in the Ph.D.

MA en route to Ph.D. Degree
Students in the Ph.D. program have the option to receive an M.A. degree (en route to the Ph.D.) after they have completed the core course requirements, passed the first qualifying examination, and submitted a 20-page paper, ordinarily one written for a core course, that demonstrates independent thinking and analytical skills.  This option is available only to students with a degree objective of Ph.D.  The paper will be evaluated by the student’s adviser and either the Chair or the Vice Chair (or designee) of Gender Studies.

Depth Exam

The depth exam covers the student’s major field, and is designed by the faculty advisor with the assistance of two additional faculty that comprise the depth exam committee.  It may be taken at any time after successful completion of the first yearvb exam and the minimum course requirements.  The depth exam format is one-week take-home.   The completed exam must be judged satisfactory by the depth exam committee.  Students may retake this exam only by petition.  This exam is facilitated by the Graduate Advisor, and questions are sent by email at a date and time set by the student with the Graduate Advisor.  All students must pass this exam before being allowed to advance in the Ph.D.

Oral Exam
The oral qualifying exam is scheduled by the student only after: (1) passing both written pre-qualifying exams; (2) completing the dissertation proposal, subject to acceptance by the student’s faculty advisor; and (3) appointment of a doctoral committee in accordance with University regulations; see the Graduate Division website at:

The doctoral committee administers the exam, which takes on average approximately two hours.  Please note the following:

  • Exams should not be scheduled until a draft of the prospectus has been submitted to the committee chair(s) for initial review.  Once the chair has signed off on the draft, the exam can be scheduled.
  • A draft of the proposal should be circulated to the full committee no less than four weeks prior to the exam.  The final version of the proposal should be circulated at least two weeks prior to the exam.

The members of the doctoral committee are chosen by the student in consultation with the faculty advisor, and subject to approval of the Chair.  The committee must be comprised of the student’s advisor, two other Gender Studies faculty, and one outside faculty member whose academic expertise relates to the dissertation topic.  After successful completion of the oral defense, one of the two Gender Studies faculty members may be excused from the committee, and the remaining members (designated the “certifying members”) become the candidate’s dissertation committee.

Advancement to candidacy is dependent on successful completion of the oral qualifying exam.  For additional information on UCLA policy for graduate students, see Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA


Ph.D. candidates must satisfy the dissertation requirement with a dissertation prepared under the supervision of an advisor in the Gender Studies Graduate Program and approved by all three certifying members. An oral defense of the final dissertation is not required unless a committee member (or the student) requests it.

Graduate Student Handbook 2020-21