Ph.D. in Chinese

The Ph.D. program in Chinese is designed to prepare students for a doctoral degree in Chinese literature, philosophy, or linguistics.

Students should consult the most up-to-date version of the degree plan on the Stanford Bulletin as well as the EALC Graduate Handbook. Each student should meet with their faculty advisor at least once per quarter to discuss the degree requirements and their progress.

Degree Requirements for the Ph.D. in Chinese

Admission to Candidacy

Candidacy is the most important University milestone on the way to the Ph.D. degree. Admission to candidacy rests both on the fulfillment of department requirements and on an assessment by department faculty that the student has the potential to successfully complete the Ph.D.

Following University policy (GAP 4.6.1), students are expected to complete the candidacy requirements by Spring Quarter of the second year of graduate study.

Pre-Candidacy Requirements

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in modern Chinese through completion of one of the tracks of third-year Chinese with a letter grade of 'B' or higher:
    • CHINLANG 103 - Third-Year Modern Chinese, Third Quarter (5 units)
    • CHINLANG 103B - Third-Year Modern Chinese for Bilingual Speakers, Third Quarter (3 units)
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in classical Chinese through completion of one of three advanced classical Chinese courses with a letter grade of 'B' or higher:
    • CHINA 208 - Advanced Classical Chinese: Philosophical Texts (3-5 units)
    • CHINA 209 - Advanced Classical Chinese: Historical Narration (2-5 units)
    • CHINA 210 - Advanced Classical Chinese: Literary Essays (2-5 units)
  3. Students whose first language is not Chinese must complete both of the following courses with a letter grade of 'B' or higher. Students may complete this requirement at any point during their graduate study.
    • CHINLANG 225 - Chinese through Modern Fiction (3 units)
    • CHINLANG 251 - Chinese for Academic Discussion and Reading (2 units)
  4. Proseminar sequence: Complete the following courses for a letter grade of 'B' or higher:
    • EALC 201 - Proseminar in East Asian Humanities I: Skills and Methodologies (3 units) - required for all students
    • EALC 202 - Proseminar in East Asian Humanities II: Current Scholarship (1 unit) - required for literature students, optional for linguistics students
    • CHINA 290 - Research in Chinese Linguistics (3 units) - required for linguistics students, optional for literature students
  5. Additional course requirements:
    • Four courses with the CHINA subject code numbered above 200, including two upper-division or graduate-level courses in other fields such as Chinese anthropology, art history, history, philosophy, political science, religious studies, or another relevant field, as approved by the DGS in consultation with the student's individual advisor.
  6. Qualifying paper
    • All Doctoral students must complete a qualifying paper. An M.A. thesis is accepted in lieu of qualifying paper for students who were initially admitted as an EALC M.A. student. An M.A. thesis is required of doctoral students who have been approved by the DGS to receive an M.A.

    • The qualifying paper or M.A. thesis must be submitted to the DGS by April 15 of Year 2 with an accompanying note from the seminar instructor (if different from the DGS) for the purpose of the candidacy review.

    • Students may complete a qualifying paper by enrolling in CHINA 299 - Master's Thesis or Qualifying Paper (1-3 units).

    • Students have the option of enrolling in a two-quarter course sequence to produce a Master's Thesis or qualifying paper (25-30 pages) in the quarter immediately after taking a 200/300 level seminar, in which the second quarter course is devoted exclusively to research and write-up of the thesis or qualifying paper.

    • Students who plan to take CHINA 299 as a continuation course will have their grade for the relevant seminar marked with an 'N' and then changed to a letter grade upon completion of the paper in the second quarter. Upon completion, the grades for both courses will be the same.

Teaching Requirement

  1. Complete the following course during Spring Quarter of the year prior to serving as a teaching assistant. Typically, this occurs during Spring Quarter of the second year of graduate study.
    • DLCL 301 - The Learning and Teaching of Second Languages (3 units)
  2. Demonstrate pedagogical proficiency by serving as a teaching assistant for a minimum of three quarters, starting no later than Autumn Quarter of the third year of graduate study. Exceptions to the timing of the teaching requirement may be approved by the department.

Post-Candidacy Requirements

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in at least one supporting language (beyond the near-native level required in Chinese and English), to be chosen in consultation with the primary advisor according to the candidate’s specific research goals. For this supporting language (typically Japanese, Korean, or a European language), students must be proficient at second-year level at the minimum; a higher level of proficiency may be required depending on the advisor’s recommendation. Reading proficiency must be certified through a written examination or an appropriate amount of course work, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. This requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the fourth year of graduate study.

  2. Students in Chinese literature are required to take CHINA 291 - The Structure of Modern Chinese (2-4 units), and students in Chinese linguistics must take at least one literature course. Literature students must also take at least one EALC course in a field different from the student’s primary specialization (e.g., a modern literature course for students specializing in premodern literature, and vice versa, or a course in Japanese or Korean literature).

  3. Complete two relevant seminars at the 300 level. CHINA 200 - Directed Reading in Chinese may be substituted for one of these two seminars.

  4. At least 3 units of coursework must be taken with each of four Stanford faculty members.

  5. Pass a set of three comprehensive written examinations, one of which tests the candidate's methodological competence in the relevant discipline. The remaining two fields are chosen, with the approval of the DGS in consultation with the student's advisor, from the following: archaeology, anthropology, art, Chinese literature, history, Japanese literature, linguistics, philosophy, or religious studies. With the advisor's approval, a Ph.D. minor in a supporting field may be deemed equivalent to the completion of one of these three examinations.

  6. Before advancing to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status, students should submit a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus should be a comprehensive description of the dissertation project and include sections on the project rationale, key research questions, the contribution to the field the dissertation will make, a literature review, a chapter-by-chapter description, a projected timeline, and a bibliography.

  7. Pass the University Oral Examination. The candidate is examined on questions related to the dissertation after acceptable parts of it have been completed in draft form.

  8. Submit a dissertation demonstrating ability to undertake original research based on primary and secondary materials in Chinese.

Field Exam/Comprehensive Written Exam Instructions for Modern Chinese Literature Students

All students in the Ph.D. program in modern Chinese literature must pass three comprehensive written examinations (a.k.a. field exams or qualifying exams) by the end of their ninth quarter: Theory, Literature, and X. The theory exam tests the student’s competence in the fundamental methods and issues of literary and cultural studies. The literature exam tests the student’s familiarity with the basic canon of modern Chinese literature, representative texts in his or her own area/period/genre of interest, and the core secondary scholarship of the field. The third field (X) may be chosen, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the student’s primary advisor from the following: comparative literature, premodern Chinese literature, linguistics, history, film, art history, philosophy, religious studies, archaeology, anthropology, political science, sociology, Japanese literature, Korean literature, FGSS, environmental humanities, digital humanities, or medical humanities. It is the student’s responsibility to secure a faculty member’s (EALC or non-EALC) consent to supervise the third exam. With the primary advisor's approval, a Ph.D. minor in a supporting field may be deemed equivalent to the completion of the third exam. Comprehensive/field exams must be completed before students can register for TGR; students should take their first field exam at the latest in the spring or summer quarter of their second year to be on track to complete all three exams by or before the end of their third year.

Students should prepare for each exam by taking the following steps:

  1. Prepare a reading list. Start with the core list and add 10-20 more titles that pertain directly to his/her own area/period/genre of interest; the list should be organized into 4-5 topics and must conform to a standard bibliographical style. Submit the list to both the primary advisor and field supervisor (if different) for approval.
  2. Set a date for the exam. Two weeks prior to the exam date, submit a list of 4-5 discursive questions each keyed to a topic in the reading list.
  3. On the day of the exam, the student receives three or four questions from which s/he chooses to answer two. Each exam essay should be 5-6 pages, double-spaced, and proofread. Footnote citations or a works cited list is not necessary. The allotted time for each exam is 4 hours with a half hour break. The exam may be administered by email.

The exam essays are evaluated for breadth, accuracy, and analytical acumen. Students will be graded on a scale from Fail to Pass and Pass with Distinction. A student who receives the "Fail" grade will be placed on probation and must retake the exam within three months. A second "Fail" grade will result in dismissal from the program.

Dissertation Prospectus Defense for the Ph.D. in Chinese

The Dissertation Prospectus Defense constitutes the first step toward faculty approval for the student’s proposed dissertation project and should be completed before or soon after the student applies for external funding to conduct doctoral research - typically by Winter quarter of the fourth year, or no later than Spring quarter of the fourth year. The defense is a two-hour oral exam conducted by the student’s dissertation reading committee (minimum of three faculty members, including the primary advisor). The prospectus, 12-15 pages not including bibliography, must be submitted to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense.