How Our Program Works
When you enroll in our program, an advisor is appointed for you by the director of the doctoral program. That advisor helps you select your courses for the first semester. Ultimately you create your Special Committee, consisting of at least three faculty members who agree to serve on that committee. They direct your dissertation research and help you plan courses for the remainder of the program.
Coursework and Research Seminars
Each area has different course requirements, contact the respective PhD coordinator for more details.
- You will also attend seminars in which you discuss recent research papers, and participate in joint research efforts with faculty members, fellow students, or both.
- Seminars will help you evaluate and apply the theories and research methods discussed in courses. The goal is to prepare you for the dissertation stage of the PhD program.
During the final part of the program, you must write a dissertation based on original research. You choose the topic of research in conjunction with your committee. The dissertation typically takes at least a full year to complete.
Length of Time for Program
The length of time students require to complete the PhD. program varies. However, you’ll need at least four years to satisfy all requirements. The average time spent in the doctoral program is five years.
Formal Requirements and Examinations
The required period of residence is six semesters of graduate work at Cornell, but you may waive two semesters on the basis of previous graduate work done either at Cornell or elsewhere.
You will take your first examination, for admission to candidacy, at or near the conclusion of your formal course work. The examination is usually both written and oral. At that point you must demonstrate competence in the three areas you have chosen.
The second examination consists of your defense of your thesis. You will take that oral examination when you have completed your dissertation.
Research and Teaching Opportunities
Our goal is to prepare students for successful academic careers. Because we focus on research, many of our graduates have completed publishable research, in addition to their dissertations, before they graduate. To help students prepare for teaching responsibilities they will face after graduation, we usually offer interested students limited teaching opportunities.