Graduate Guide to Study

Languages.

Foreign languages must include at least two modern languages and one classical language.  In this context, “classical language” accommodates a flexible definition: it should generally be an old or archaic form that is no longer in active everyday usage.  For those working in modern European languages and literatures, the most useful of such languages might be Greek or Latin, but Classical Chinese or Japanese would be more appropriate for others, and Classical Arabic, Sanskrit, or Biblical Hebrew for yet others.  In some instances, relatively ancient and primarily oral languages that have survived into the modern world, such as Quechua, may qualify. These examples are guidelines only. Please consult with the Director of Graduate Studies if you are unsure about whether a language can qualify as meeting the “classical” requirement. Comparative Literature “Classics” majors are expected to study Latin and Greek and one modern language in lieu of the two modern / one classical requirement.  The specific languages to be included in a student’s program of study should be determined at the outset in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.  Current competency in the three designated languages must be demonstrated within the first two years of study.

Principal Foreign Language.  Speaking, writing, and reading knowledge are required.  In determining proficiency in the principal foreign language, students are held to the standards of the departments of foreign languages.  The minimum is typically the equivalent of two or three years of undergraduate study. In the case that a language is not offered at Princeton, the student may arrange a test of proficiency in consultation with the DGS.  Determination of proficiency can be made by written certification of the instructor of a graduate course in the relevant national literature department, upon successful completion of the course, or by the language exam, (usually a brief translation exercise) offered yearly by the individual foreign language departments.  Native speakers of the Principal Foreign Language are exempt from the exam in that language.  A Principal Foreign Language need not correspond to the language of the student’s Major Literature.  Additionally, in no case may English count as a principal or second foreign language, although English Literature may be a Major Literature or Minor Field.
A student may meet his or her major language requirements through either graduate (500-level) or advanced (400-level) coursework in that language.  A minimum of 75% of the class readings must be in the relevant language for such coursework to meet the requirement.  This proportion should be documented by an email note from the class instructor to the Director of Graduate Studies in each case.
Classics majors must pass the series of exams in both Latin and Greek offered by the Classics Department, and will receive their instructions from that department.

Second Foreign Language.  Determination of proficiency in the second foreign language is normally made by the language exams offered yearly by the individual foreign language departments; these are usually brief translation exercises.  Students not prepared for such exams on entrance to the program may substitute a year’s study (or the equivalent, in accelerated courses) of a second foreign language at the undergraduate level.  Students continuing work in a second foreign language at an advanced level may fulfill the requirement with a graduate course taken for credit in the relevant national literature department.  The pass / fail option cannot be used in such cases.  All options require written certification of successful completion by the course instructor or examiner.  Native speakers of the Second Foreign Language are exempt from the exam in that language.


Classical Language.  The Department will normally rely on the undergraduate proficiency examinations given by the relevant departments of language and literature. Students not prepared to take such exams on entrance to the program may substitute satisfactory performance in a course equivalent to one year of work in the language at the undergraduate level.  The pass / fail option cannot be used in such cases.
The Principal Foreign Language must be certified during the first year; all others by the end of the second.  Exceptions may be made for classics majors who need additional time to pass all the exams administered by the Classics Department.  If a particular language is not formally offered at Princeton yet is necessary for the student’s course of study and eventual research, special tuition arrangements may be made in consultation with the DGS and the Graduate School.  Such arrangements might involve independent study with qualified Princeton faculty, or a summer language program.

Course of Study.

Students are required to take a minimum of 12 graduate-level courses, at least 10 of which must be for credit.  COM 521, Introduction to Comparative Literature, is required of all first year students in their first semester.  In addition to COM 521 and at least 2 other courses in Comparative Literature, students should take 4 or more courses in the department of their principal foreign literature, and at least 2 in their minor foreign literature, for credit.  Students whose principal national literature is English-language should take 4 or more graduate courses for credit in this field, as well as 2 or more graduate courses for credit in the minor foreign literature.  They will also be expected to demonstrate proficiency in a second foreign language, as well as in a classical language.  This can be accomplished either by passing the relevant undergraduate proficiency examination(s) or by performing satisfactorily in a course equivalent to one year of work in that language at the undergraduate level.  (For example, a student who has elected English as the major literature might take 4 graduate courses in English-language literature, 2 graduate courses in Italian, and pass reading exams in French and Latin.)

As long as the program’s language requirements are fully met, a student may elect to pursue a minor field in a disciplinary area that advances their research goals.  This option substitutes for the “minor foreign literature” requirement.  Examples might include Philosophy, Art History, Music, History of Science.  This option should be discussed and arranged in advance with the Director of Graduate Studies.  If such a “secondary discipline” is substituted for the minor foreign literature, the two required courses must be taken in the Department that represents that disciplinary area so as to ensure some familiarity with the specific methodology and theory of that area (e.g. Philosophy classes must be taken in a Department of Philosophy).

Students whose interests and language preparation lead them to "double-major" in two foreign literatures should take at least four courses in each of those literatures, three of which must be for credit.

When special arrangements are needed to accommodate the study of languages and literatures not sufficiently supported at Princeton to complete the requirements as outlined above, such arrangements are best made upon or prior to the student’s arrival in order to ensure feasibility and practicality. 

In addition, all students are required to take COM 500, the Department’s pedagogy seminar, prior to or at the same time as undertaking their first precepting assignment.  Students may take the COM pedagogy seminar (Fall semester) or that offered by the Department of English (Spring semester). Students desiring language teaching experience should also expect to take the relevant department’s language pedagogy seminar.  They should consult with both the DGS and Language Program Director of the relevant department to arrange this.

Credit for Graduate Courses Taken Elsewhere.  As of September 2009, students who come to Princeton with an M.A. or equivalent course work elsewhere may receive credit for no more than two courses taken elsewhere against the ten required for credit by the Department.  Such decisions, made in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, will normally be reached by the end of the student's first year at Princeton.

Completion of Courses.

No Incompletes are permitted for students in their first term of study.  We strongly discourage taking Incompletes at any time during the course of study, and they should be given only in exceptional circumstances, and discussed in advance with the course instructor.  A firm deadline for the submission of Incompletes must also be agreed in advance with the course instructor.  The Department adheres to the Graduate School’s policy on the maximum permissible period for the submission of Incomplete coursework:

A faculty member may set a deadline for submission of work and resolution of an incomplete for up to a maximum of one year from when the course began.  For a course that began in the fall term, for example, the maximum deadline would be the start of the following fall term.  If a student has not turned in the final paper or work for a course within one year after the beginning of the course, the grade in the course will be recorded by the Graduate School as “F.”

Yearly readmission depends on the completion of coursework:

  • Students can only have one Incomplete (INC) on their transcript in order to be considered in good standing.
  • Courses cannot be converted from credit to audit after ten weeks.  Courses can be converted from audit to credit at any time.

Re-enrollment.

Reviews for re-enrollment are required of the department by the Graduate School.  The re-enrollment of all students to each year for which they are eligible to attend is dependent on course performance, timely completion of language examinations (or coursework), graduate coursework, and the General Examinations, including the dissertation prospectus defense.

Student Teaching.

Students may teach beginning with their second year; normally, first-year students are not eligible for teaching.  All graduate students in the department are required to undertake at least 4 classroom hours of teaching while at Princeton. “Classroom hours” refers to the number of hours per week, over the course of a semester, during which the student is in charge of the classroom as the primary instructor present.
Students apply for teaching through the Departmental Graduate Administrator, who also regularly receives requests for graduate student teachers from related departments.  Students may sometimes directly approach or be approached by related departments regarding teaching opportunities, but must inform the Graduate Administrator of any tentative assignment they receive in an extra-departmental course, and have that assignment cleared by the Director of Graduate Studies of Comparative Literature, before accepting it.

Advising.

Each student convenes a committee that normally consists of three faculty advisers. These advisers typically work with the student for both parts of the General Examination.  Advisers should be chosen during the second year of study.  Students may either approach individual faculty members directly, or ask for suggestions about advising from the Director of Graduate Studies.  In either case, the student should notify the DGS and the Graduate Administrator once an advising relationship has been arranged.  It is required that at least one member of the Generals Committee belongs to the Department of Comparative Literature.  If, for any reason, a student needs to change or add advisers, the matter should be discussed first with the DGS.

 Although continuity in advising is desirable, a change in advisers may occur between the two parts of the General Examination, between exams and the dissertation, and during the dissertation stage itself.  A student's committee should be chaired by a member of faculty appointed in the Department of Comparative Literature. Under exceptional circumstances of unique scholarly expertise, however, the committee may be co-chaired by faculty unaffiliated with Comparative Literature, with the corresponding co-Chair belonging to Comparative Literature, upon approval by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The General Examination.

Reflecting the Course of Study, the General Examination is offered in two parts: (1) the Principal or Major Literature, and (2) Comparative Literature.  These parts are usually separated by one semester.  Students should declare (inform the DGS and Graduate Administrator) their intention to take each part of the General Examination at the beginning of the term: i.e., in September for January examinations, in February for May, and in May for September.  The date of each examination should be arranged with the Graduate Administrator, who must be notified as to the composition of the committee by this time.  The first Examination may take place at any time during the semester.  The second Examination must take place within one of the Graduate School’s designated Generals Examination Periods (these can be found on the annual Academic Calendar).  The actual date of the Examination must be agreed with the committee, DGS, and Graduate Administrator no less than one month in advance.  The Examination must commence on a Friday morning (see “Examination Procedure” below).

Both examinations must be written in English.  Each Examination should be followed by a meeting with the student’s Generals Committee to discuss the result.  This meeting is not a graded section of the exam, but should be treated as an advisory follow-up.  Students must have received the grades for the actual Examination at least 24 hours prior to this meeting with the Committee; and the meeting must take place no more than two weeks after the completion of the Examination.
It is a requirement of the Graduate School that both parts of the General Examination are completed by the end of the sixth semester (Third Year).  Students will not be considered to be in good standing if the General Examination is not complete by this time.

General Examination in the Major Literature.  This first part of the General Examination should be taken during the fifth semester of study.  This schedule may, of course, be accelerated as the student, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, sees fit.

Reading List.  The list should include at least 50 items, including primary and secondary readings that are concentrated on the student’s Major Literature(s).  It should be drawn up by the student in consultation with his or her advisers.  Once it has been approved by the advisory committee, the list will be reviewed by the Director of Graduate Studies for final approval.  The historical scope of the list is determined by the student's choice of time period in the major language literature; if the student is working equally in two literatures, the list may reflect this fact.  The list will consist primarily of literary works, but interpretive, critical, theoretical, philological and philosophical works should be included.  Brief works, such as lyric poems or critical essays written by a single author, should be grouped together in numbers relative to their density and interest (e.g., five lyrics by Baudelaire or Lorca; four substantial essays by Barthes or Lukács, might count as a single item on the list).  Students are advised to consult the Graduate Administrator for samples of past reading lists and examination questions; these are on file in the departmental office.

The final list and statement must be sent to the advisory committee no less than eight weeks before the examination date.  A 2-4 page double-spaced statement, broadly outlining a rationale of the student’s field of interest, should accompany the reading list.  This permits sufficient time for changes if required by the committee members.  The advisory committee must approve the list no later than one month prior to the exam, at which point it will be sent via the Graduate Administrator to the DGS for approval.

Examination Procedure.  Examination questions are emailed by the Graduate Administrator to the student by 9 a.m. on the Friday of their scheduled Examination.  Students take the weekend to write the examination, and the completed essays must be returned by email to the Graduate Administrator on the following Monday by 9 a.m.  The exam will consist of six questions provided by the committee, each of whom will have supplied two questions.  The student must write essay-length answers to three of these questions; one from each pair supplied by each committee member.  There is no specified length for exam papers, though 3,000-5,000 words per paper is typical.  Students are encouraged to aim for quality as well as quantity.  This is an "open book" exam. The use of texts, reference tools, and other resources is both permitted and encouraged.  Students are expected to complete the examination in its entirety once it has begun.  Any student who falls ill during the examination must immediately contact the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Administrator via email; under such circumstances, a new examination date will be set, and the student will be asked to obtain a note from a medical practitioner. Students are also urged to double- and triple-check the documents they submit to the Graduate Administrator to make sure that they have sent the final version of each essay; neither late submissions nor substitutions are permitted.  There are no extensions for General Examinations. 

General Examination in Comparative Literature.  Part Two of the General Examination. Because the Comparative Literature Examination completes the two-part General Exams, it must be taken during one of the three periods annually designated by the Graduate School on the Academic Calendar.  A combined grade for the Major and Comparative Literature Examination will be submitted to the Graduate School by the Department along with notice of completion of the General Examination.
 The second part of the General Examination tests the student's competence in the chosen comparative field, and consists of a written, open-book exam based on an approved reading list.  It is normally taken within one semester of the exam in the Major Literature.  Both General Examinations should be completed no later than the end of the sixth semester of study.

Reading List.  The reading list for the Comparative Literature Exam, drawn up in similar fashion to that for the Major Literature Exam, should again consist of at least 50 items.  It should reflect a broader field of comparative study, with particular focus on comparative, methodological, theoretical and critical questions of interest to the student.  The basis of the questions will be the student's own brief description of the key issues and areas underlying the list.  Since the list is comparative, it may include some works from the list for the Major Exam, but should represent a majority of new works.  Students are advised to consult the Graduate Administrator for samples of past reading lists and examination questions; these are on file in the departmental office.

The final list and statement must be sent to the advisory committee no less than eight weeks before the examination date.  A 2-4 page double-spaced statement, broadly outlining a rationale of the student’s field of interest, should accompany the reading list.  This permits sufficient time for changes if required by the committee members.  The advisory committee must approve the list no later than one month prior to the exam, at which point it will be sent via the Graduate Administrator to the DGS for approval.

Examination Procedure.  Identical to the first General Examination: Examination questions are emailed by the Graduate Administrator to the student by 9 a.m. on the Friday of their scheduled Examination.  Students take the weekend to write the examination, and the completed essays must be returned by email to the Graduate Administrator on the following Monday by 9 a.m.  The exam will consist of six questions provided by the committee, each of whom will have supplied two questions. The student must write essay-length answers to three of these questions; one from each pair supplied by each committee member. There is no specified length for exam papers, though 3,000-5,000 words is typical.  Students are encouraged to aim for quality as well as quantity.  This is an "open book" exam. The use of texts, reference tools, and other resources is both permitted and encouraged.  Students are expected to complete the examination in its entirety once it has begun.  Any student who falls ill during the examination must immediately contact the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Administrator via email; under such circumstances, a new examination date will be set, and the student will be asked to obtain a note from a medical practitioner.  Students are also urged to double- and triple-check the documents they submit to the Graduate Administrator to make sure that they have sent the final version of each essay; neither late submissions nor substitutions are permitted.  There are no extensions for General Examinations. 

Prospectus of the Dissertation and Oral Defense of the Prospectus.

The Prospectus is a fifteen- to thirty-page exposition of the dissertation project written by the student in consultation with their committee of advisers.  The Prospectus consists of three parts:  1) a 3-5 page outline of the overall rationale of the dissertation.  I.e. the problem(s) and question(s) it addresses; the hypothesis it intends to investigate and elaborate; the materials, critical resources, and methods it will use to do so (authors, texts, etc.).  This first part of the prospectus should resemble a short essay on the entire dissertation topic.  2) A 7-10 page summary of the proposed dissertation chapter-by-chapter.  Aim for 1-3 pages worth of summary per chapter.  3) A bibliography, professionally formatted in either MLA or Chicago style.

This document is the basis for the Oral Defense of the Prospectus. The Oral Defense is conducted by the advisory committee with the Director of Graduate Studies. The entire dissertation committee and the DGS must be either physically or remotely (Skype) present for this defense. A maximum of one person is permitted to participate via videoconference. Members of the Graduate Committee are encouraged to attend, although this is not mandatory. Additionally, all members of the Comparative Literature faculty will have received a copy of the Prospectus four weeks prior to the defense, and they may attend at their own discretion.

The Prospectus Defense consists of a 15-20 minute oral presentation by the student followed by questions and commentary from the committee and other faculty who may be present. The oral presentation should give a brief overview of the rationale for the dissertation, outlining the major themes, texts, and critical approaches to be taken.

The Prospectus Defense should be taken by the end of the seventh semester of study (first semester of the fourth program year).  Students who have not successfully defended the Prospectus by that time are unlikely to be competitive candidates for honorific dissertation completion fellowships, and will often not have enough time remaining on standard fellowships to complete their dissertations.

 To arrange for the Prospectus Defense, students should consult with the committee of advisers and discuss any scheduling difficulties with the Director of Graduate Studies. 

The defense date must be arranged in consultation with the Departmental Administrator, advisors, and DGS at least three months prior to the defense. Students must submit the first draft of the Prospectus to their committee for approval at least two months prior to the defense. The deadline for receiving feedback and approval on drafts is at least six weeks before the defense, at which point advisors also send an email to the DGS and Department Administrator indicating their approval. Final drafts of the prospectus must be sent to the committee and DGS at least four weeks prior to the defense.

Guidelines for the Dissertation Prospectus.  Regardless of its particular focus, the prospectus should reflect the general requirement that the dissertation involve at least two national languages and literatures.

The Dissertation Prospectus should address the following matters clearly and directly:

  1. The field to which the dissertation will belong, e.g. literary history, theory, poetics, thematics, genre, interrelationships among the arts or interdisciplinary methodologies, specific areas of inquiry such as feminism or postcolonial critique.
  2. The period or periods under study.
  3. The writers on which the dissertation will focus and the titles of the works to be examined.  For the purpose of the Prospectus, it is highly advisable to restrict the list to three to five authors.
  4. The major theme or themes of the dissertation, e.g. agency and negativity in French and English romantic lyric; religious identities in early modern writings of the Iberian peninsula; skepticism and the sublime in the Renaissance; the genres of incarceration literature; schizophrenia and the postcolonial condition.
  5. A clearly expressed thesis or argument about the topic itself.  This thesis should serve as the point of departure for the first section of the Prospectus (the summary of its overall problem and approach).
  6. The critical and theoretical background of the thesis.  The student should indicate the major critical texts that will come into play in the dissertation, and specify the critical perspectives or theses that the thesis expands, contests, and critically discusses.  The names, titles, and dates of publications of these critical works should be provided.
  7. The Prospectus should briefly situate itself in a field of inquiry with reference to scholarly works related to that field, the period, the writer(s) and the theme(s) selected.  It should indicate what is novel, relative to these works, about the dissertation’s topic or approach.
  8. The Prospectus should outline the probable development of the thesis chapter by chapter.

Dissertation.

The Graduate School allows students a maximum of five years following the successful completion of their General Exams to complete and submit their dissertations. A maximum two years of Dissertation Completion Enrollment (DCE) are permitted thereafter.  After two years of DCE, a special waiver granted by the Department is required to continue the dissertation to completion.

Advisers.  The dissertation is directed by a committee usually consisting of two or three advisers. The dissertation committee must be chaired or co-chaired by a member of the faculty of the Department of Comparative Literature.  Instances of co-chairing occur when the main adviser is from a department other than Comparative Literature.  Up to two other members of the committee may come from institutions other than Princeton as long as they are of eligible rank.  Students must obtain permission from the Director of Graduate Studies to add a non-Princeton adviser to the committee; and ultimately permission from the Graduate School is required for any non-Princeton faculty to participate in the Final Public Oral Examination.

Scope of the Dissertation.  The dissertation must be comparatively oriented in the sense of involving at least two national languages and literatures, even if a single author is the subject.  Older and newer forms of the same language, or one literary tradition plus a theoretical framework, are not acceptable substitutes.  This must be borne in mind for the prospectus and for the natural narrowing of focus as a dissertation progresses.  The completed dissertation should demonstrate familiarity with the existing scholarship on its topic and represent a distinct contribution to its field.

Guidelines for Submitting the Dissertation.  Candidates should keep in mind that submission of the final draft of the dissertation begins a process that typically requires several months before all degree requirements can be completed and the doctoral degree conferred.  In order to allow the necessary time for the completion of final doctoral degree requirements, candidates should begin by reviewing the following crucial deadlines here:

Students must schedule their Final Public Oral examination no fewer than two months in advance.  Once students have scheduled their FPO, which must fall on or before one of the Graduate School’s five annual Degree Deadlines (see link above), they must complete the following steps:

  1. Submission of the final draft of the entire dissertation.  After the work on the individual chapters and bibliography has been completed, a readable draft (not a final copy) of the completed dissertation is submitted to the dissertation committee.  Students should consult their individual committee members regarding the amount of time they require to review this final draft for approval, but in no case should advisers be expected to review a complete dissertation in less than one month.  At this stage, substantive changes and re-submission may be required.
  2. Approval of the final, revised draft.  Once the committee members have agreed, the dissertation committee chair will communicate approval of the dissertation to the Director of Graduate Studies.  At this time the candidate should begin to prepare the final manuscript, including the particular formatting required by the Graduate School and the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, which can be found here:
  3. Readers' Reports.  The candidate should identify well in advance of the FPO two faculty who will produce Readers’ Reports on the dissertation.  The dissertation Chair (main adviser) does not submit a written report.  At least one of the Readers must be appointed in the Department of Comparative Literature.  After receiving notice from the dissertation committee chair of approval of the final draft, the Director of Graduate Studies formally requests Readers’ Reports from the faculty designated by the candidate.  Additional Readers’ reports may be requested by the candidate, but it is his or her responsibility to secure each Reader’s agreement to submitting a report.  Readers must be allowed a minimum of one month in which to produce their reports. The Departmental deadline for submission of Readers’ Reports to the Graduate Administrator is two and a half weeks prior to the defense date.  This is to allow the Department time to process and submit the reports to the Graduate School by the required minimum of two weeks before the desired defense date.  The Readers’ Reports on an approved dissertation should therefore be requested seven weeks before the dissertation defense date.
  4. Examiners.  The Graduate School requires that FPOs are conducted by a committee that also consists of three Examiners, two of whom have not been Readers of the dissertation.  It is again the candidate’s responsibility to enlist the Examiners, in consultation with his or her committee.  The Director of Graduate Studies often serves as an Examiner, as does the dissertation Chair, so long as neither one is a Reader.
  5. Online Submission of the Degree Application Form.  A completed paperless Degree Application Form, available through the TIGERHUB system, must be submitted online by the degree candidate to the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs a minimum of two and a half weeks prior to the desired dissertation defense date.  The student is responsible for uploading or attaching the Title Page of the dissertation and the required Dissertation Abstract (350 words maximum), in addition to a PDF of the correctly formatted dissertation itself.  The graduate administrator will gather and upload other necessary documents, such as the Readers’ Reports and the Prior Presentation and Publication form.
  6. Display of the Dissertation.  According to the requirements of the Graduate School, “The one bound and / or final copy of your dissertation is due in your department at least two full weeks prior to your defense date in order to be available for inspection and reading prior to the final public oral exam.”  The department customarily prefers two copies; these should be unbound to allow for minor corrections. In order to meet the display deadline, the final copy should be submitted to the Graduate Administrator no later than two and a half weeks prior to the FPO.
  7. Final Public Oral Examination.  The authorization memo from the Dean of the Graduate School approving the final public oral exam will be sent to the department automatically when the Graduate School has approved the Advanced Degree Application.  The FPOE authorization memo (“posting form”) must be posted publicly in the department at least three full working days prior to the defense date.  For details concerning the nature of the Final Public Oral Examination (or dissertation defense) itself, students should consult the separate section below.
  8. Corrections.  After the Final Public Oral Examination, the adviser and examining committee may recommend that minor, non-substantive changes be made in the text, or that the candidate repeat the Final Public Oral Examination.  According to the requirements of the Graduate School, “the student must submit the corrected final copies within two weeks of successfully completing the FPOE.”
  9. Binding and ProQuest Publishing.  The candidate has completed all degree requirements after one bound copy of the dissertation has been deposited to the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library archives, as required by the Graduate School.  This step normally takes place immediately after the successful completion of the final public oral examination, but in all cases it must occur within two weeks of the successful defense.  At this point the candidate must also present a confirmation email to Mudd of having successfully uploaded the dissertation to ProQuest/UMI ETD.

Dissertation Defense (Final Public Oral Examination).

Format of the FPO.  Candidates present a summary of their dissertation in a formal presentation lasting approximately twenty minutes; they explicate the subject and critical approach informing the dissertation, additionally describing their future plans for the project.  Presentations are followed by questions about the dissertation and its ramifications by the examiners and other faculty and graduate students present.  This discussion usually lasts an additional hour.

Composition of FPO committee.  At least two Readers: these may be members of the dissertation committee, although this is not mandatory.  The main dissertation advisor cannot be a Reader.  One of the Readers may be an external Reader (not from Princeton).  At least one Reader must be a Comparative Literature faculty member.  A student may have, as established by precedent, up to four Readers. Readers are not required to be present at the FPO unless they are doubling as an Examiner (see below for Examiner criteria).  Readers are encouraged to attend, and will be formally included in the questioning of the candidate if they do so.

Chair: The FPO cannot be chaired by either the main dissertation advisor or by an external reader / examiner.  The chair may be one of the (internal) readers, examiners, a member of the dissertation committee, the Director of Graduate Studies, or a member of the Graduate Committee (as long as these latter are not excluded by also being the main adviser of the dissertation).

At least three Examiners.  As required by the Graduate School, “there must be at least three principal examiners, all of them normally members of the Princeton Faculty at the rank of assistant professor or higher, at least two of whom have not been principal readers of the dissertation.”  Only one Reader may double as an Examiner.  The main advisor may be one of the Examiners.  One Examiner may participate via remote teleconference (for example, Skype) with prior permission from the Graduate School.  Please consult with the Director of Graduate Studies in this eventuality.  Prior permission from the Graduate School must also be sought for external Examiners.  Please also consult with the Director of Graduate Studies well in advance of the FPO about this.

It is departmental policy to invite, in addition, all members of the dissertation committee and the Department to attend the final oral examination.  Since this is a public exercise, all interested persons, including the candidate’s family and friends, may attend.

Timing.  The Trustees of the University do not confer doctoral degrees between the first week of June and the last week of September.  The current schedule for the awarding of advanced degrees is available here:

Therefore final public oral examinations are not offered in June, July, or August.  The rare exception to this rule is as follows: When a candidate’s hiring or promotion is contingent upon the successful completion of all degree requirements before a deadline falling within the summer months, and this summer deadline can be satisfied without the formal conferral of the doctoral degree by the Trustees, in such cases every reasonable effort will be made to schedule a summer dissertation defense.  Nevertheless, students are advised that full participation of their advisers cannot be expected during the summer months.  In order to derive the greatest benefit from this final exercise, all candidates for the doctoral degree should make every effort to schedule their final public oral examinations during the regular academic year, September through May.