Planning for Your Orals

Taking Orals: the connection to your department support

“Taking orals” means you take an oral exam administered by the members of your Ph.D. committee. The oral exam is preceded by your writing a “prospectus” document putting forth your proposed dissertation topic. The exam focuses on the topic and on the prospectus. For full details, see Taking Orals and Advancing to Candidacy.

Officially, what happens after you have passed your orals is that you have Advanced to Candidacy; this means you have covered all of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree, other than the actual writing and defense of the dissertation.

The Linguistics Department deadline for taking orals is the end of your 10th quarter; i.e. the end of Fall Quarter of your Year 4 in the program. It is very important for students to meet this deadline, for the reasons given below.

International students

By pan-UC policy, all international students pay — or have paid for them by their departments — a substantial amount of nonresident tuition. As of Fall 2020 this nonresident tuition is $5034 per quarter, and the amount historically has increased over time.

The Linguistics Department pays this tuition for you for a period of up to 10 quarters, and commits to this in its offer letters to prospective graduate students. However, this is the limit of the commitment, and international students who do not take orals by the end of their tenth quarter will have to pay the non-resident tuition themselves in order to remain in the program.

International students who have taken their orals become eligible for a period of three years of university-paid non-resident tuition. In all normal cases, this should suffice to cover the completion of the Ph.D. degree. The University policy is stated on the Registrar’s Office website. The policy during the current COVID crisis is somewhat more generous; see the Graduate Division Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) Accommodations Due to COVID-19 FAQs .

Many international students actually take their orals one or two quarters early, and thus benefit from the incentive program described below, which is meant to encourage this.

Domestic students

Domestic students who have been legal California residents do not have to pay nonresident tuition. However, even domestic students face a deadline: it is a program requirement (see Policies and Procedures) for all students that to remain in good standing for purposes of fifth year support (TAships, etc.), you must apply for a Dissertation Year Fellowship (DYF) during your fourth year. The deadline for the DYF applications comes in mid to late March of Winter Quarter, and no student may apply for a DYF without having passed their orals.

For advice on making sure you get through your Ph.D. orals on time, please consult your dissertation adviser and/or the department Director of Graduate Studies.

Program of incentives for international students to take orals early

International students for whom the department pays NRT have the option of advancing to candidate early, in return for an incentive in the form of a quarter in which the student will be supported by the department without having to work as a TA.

Under this system, if you advance to candidacy by the end of the Spring Quarter of your third year (this means Spring Quarter itself, not during the following summer) you will receive one non-TAship quarter in Year 4. If you advance to candidacy by the end of the Winter Quarter of your third year, you will receive two non-TAship quarters in Year 4.

International students who elect this option should be aware that, if they remain in the program past the normal three years of University support for nonresident tuition, the Linguistics Department will not resume paying this form of support at the end of the three years. In practice, this means: (1) if you advance to candidacy in Fall of Year 4 (the deadline), you get nonresident tuition from the University through Fall of Year 7; (2) if you advance to candidacy in Spring of Year 3, you have nonresident tuition through Spring of Year 6; (3) if you advance to candidacy in Winter of Year 3, you have nonresident tuition through Winter of Year 6.

A note on leaves of absence and the ten-quarter limit

Leaves of absence, medical or otherwise, will not be counted against the total of ten quarters that the department will cover nonresident tuition for international students, provided that the department was not paying NRT during such quarters. However, any extensions made for academic deadlines, such as another quarter to complete the M.A. thesis, will not increase the total number of NRT quarters awarded