Ph.D. Requirements (Japanese Linguistics)

Course work: 51 credits

  • Identify your main advisor based on your interests and consult her to design your course work.  It is recommended that you will take a research method course such as English 711 or any other course that would fit your future research plan.
  • All 51 credits must be graduate coursework, as defined by graduate school guidelines. At least 18 credits must be completed in courses numbered 700 or higher.
  • The 51 credits may include master’s, minor, and dissertator credits.
  • All Ph.D. students are required to complete a Ph.D. minor.  The students in the Japanese linguistics Ph.D. program have typically completed a minor in Linguistics or a minor in SLA.  You need to consult with your minor advisor for the requirements.  Credits required for a minor count as part of the 51 credits required for the Ph.D. course work.
  • We encourage students to attend the LSA Summer Linguistic Institute or other special summer sessions offered at a different institution.  You should discuss with your advisor your plan to attend such sessions offered at another institution.  The advisory committee consisting of the three faculty in Japanese linguistics will review your plan and may consider that the courses you take at another institution could substitute up to 3 credits of the 51 credit requirements.
  • It normally takes 4 to 5 semesters to complete the course work.


Foreign Language Requirements:

  • We expect a Ph.D. candidate to have basic knowledge of an East Asian Language other than Japanese.  2 semesters of course work such as Elementary Chinese I and II or Elementary Korean I and II satisfy this requirement.
  • If your native language is one of these languages, you are considered to have satisfied the language requirement.
  • If you have studied one of these languages elsewhere, you can also take a placement test with an instructor of the language.  If the instructor judges that you have the level of proficiency that is equal to, or surpasses, that of the students who have taken two semesters of the language offered in our department, you are considered to have satisfied the requirement.
  • The language requirements must be completed by the time you finish taking the preliminary exams.

Prelims (Fall 2017-) :

  • This examination is taken after the candidate has 1) fulfilled the Graduate School minimum credit requirement, 2) satisfied the language requirement, 3) completed all major requirements except dissertation, 4) cleared all incompletes or grades of “P” in non-research courses, and 5) fulfilled the minor requirements.
  • The preliminary examination questions are written by the student’s dissertation advisor, with input from and the approval of the other two committee members.
  • The questions fall into the following three categories:
    • Question 1. Japanese applied linguistics / Japanese language education: to assess the student’s ability to articulate his/her view on major issues in the field, the understanding of which will be critical for his/her future career as a Japanese language educator.
    • Question 2. Research methods and data analysis: to assess the student’s ability to articulate strengths and weaknesses of a few research methods of his/her choice and to apply them to an actual dataset
    • Question 3. Analysis of an issue that reflects the student’s specific research interests: to assess the student’s readiness to embark on his/her dissertation research, especially in regard to his/her in-depth understanding of relevant literature in the specific area of his/her focus.
  • In order to prepare for the exams, the student is encouraged to create a list of readings for each area, consulting with the three committee members.
  • Questions 1 & 2 will be given to the student as a set, whereas Question 3 will be provided separately. The student can start with either Questions 1&2 or Question 3. Consult the advisor and the committee members to determine the schedule of these exams.
  • The student has two weeks from the time when s/he receives Questions 1 & 2 to write and submit response papers. The student’s response to each question should be in the form of a paper of approximately 15-20 pages double-spaced, not including references.
  • The student also has two weeks from the time when s/he receive Question 3 to write and submit his/her response in the form of a paper of approximately 20 pages, double-spaced, not including references.
  • For all papers, strategically placed subheadings that facilitate the reader’s comprehension of the paper’s structure are encouraged. Papers should include a complete list of all works cited and clearly indicate cited work as such.
  • The student may consult non-human resources, including those in print, on the internet, and in databases. During the period of the exam, students may not receive help with writing the responses from or discuss responses or exam questions with anyone, including students and faculty in the program, in related fields, or in related programs.



  • The final requirement for a Ph.D. is to complete a substantial (book length) original research.
  • You need to form a committee of UW-Madison faculty who evaluate your dissertation.  The committee consists of 5 members including a chair or co-chairs.
  • You need to select a Japanese program faculty as a chair or a co-chair.  Depending on the area of your research, you may ask a faculty in another department to serve as a co-chair.  You should select other members of your committee based on your topic and the faculty’s expertise.
  • Once you develop a basic idea of your dissertation, you should submit a proposal to the committee and schedule an oral defense of proposal.  The proposal should include the followings: Introduction of the topic and issues to be explored in your dissertation with a brief review of relevant literature; Explanation of data and methodology; Sample analysis (if possible and applicable); Outline of chapters.
  • Allow the committee members at least 3 weeks to review your proposals.  The proposal defense will give you a chance to discuss your plan with the committee members and clarify pathways that you are going to follow in the dissertation research.
  • After the proposal meeting, you are essentially going to work on your own to write a dissertation.  You should negotiate with your chair (or co-chairs) regarding the styles of advising.  Some faculty prefer to review your work Chapter by Chapter, while the others may want to wait until you complete several major chapters to review your work.  The other members of the committee typically will not read your work until shortly before the final oral defense, but this also depends on the nature of your work and the committee members’ preference.
  • Once the chair (co-chairs) considers the whole piece of your dissertation to be ready to be evaluated by the committee, you will schedule an oral defense taking into consideration all committee members’ schedule.  Allow the committee members at least one month to review your work before the oral defense.
  • At the oral defense, you will be asked to briefly summarize your work and the committee members ask you various questions regarding your work.  At the end of the meeting, the committee will make a decision as to whether you can deposit your dissertation as is, or you need to revise certain sections, or you need to work further and schedule another oral defense (we tried to avoid the third option as much as possible and make sure that your work has been polished enough to pass the oral before scheduling it).
  • Once you complete the revision and deposit your dissertation to the Memorial Library, you will have a Ph.D.! Please also refer to the Graduate School’s Guide ro Preparing Your Doctoral Dissertation for more information.