PhD Program


During their first year students who directly enter the Ph.D. program meet quarterly with the program chair, who also serves as the graduate adviser. In consultation with the graduate adviser, students choose a primary faculty adviser. By the end of the first year, students choose three fields of study and the faculty with whom they will work in those fields. Students should consult with these faculty and with the student affairs officer as frequently as needed.

Students who intend to proceed from the M.A. degree to the Ph.D. degree in Islamic Studies must first fulfill all requirements for the M.A. degree and receive a pass to continue from two of the three faculty supervisors.

Student progress is reviewed annually. At the beginning of Spring Quarter, all students meet with their faculty supervisors and provide them with a written summary of their progress toward the degree and their goals for the coming year. The faculty supervisors report to the interdepartmental degree committee which meets to review student progress and advises each student in writing by the end of Spring Quarter as to whether their progress is sufficient to warrant continuation in the program.

Major Fields or Sub-disciplines

Anthropology, art history, comparative literature, history, law, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, urban planning, world arts and cultures, and the literatures of the following languages: Arabic, Indonesian, Iranian languages, Malay, Swahili, Turkic languages, and Urdu.

Foreign Language Requirement

Intermediate-level proficiency in a second language listed under Major Fields or Sub-disciplines and reading proficiency in a European language other than English that is relevant to the student’s research are required prior to advancement to doctoral candidacy. Students are encouraged to achieve required levels of proficiency in their research languages early in their graduate study so that language skills will be of maximum benefit.

Language proficiency may be demonstrated by (1) providing evidence of being a native speaker; (2) passing a program-administered examination; (3) completing three intermediate-level courses with a grade of B or better (these courses are not counted toward the degree); or (4) submitting evidence of completion of equivalent coursework elsewhere.

Exceptions to the language requirements may be approved in special cases. This is done through submission of a petition that must be approved by the student’s primary faculty adviser, the program chair, and the Graduate Division.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 12 courses (48 units) is required for the Ph.D. degree, including a minimum of three graduate seminars. Students who enter directly into the Ph.D. program must take the three core courses in Category one and at least one course from Category two listed under the master’s degree. Such students may petition the Committee to Administer the Islamic Studies Program to waive courses in Category one. All students must take at least four graduate and upper-division courses, including one graduate seminar, in each of three chosen fields (students should see Major Fields or Subdisciplines above). The three fields must be distributed across more than one division, college, or school. One 500-level course in each of three fields may be applied toward Ph.D. course requirements. Students must also take at least one methodology course, which may or may not be in one of the three fields, and as approved by the primary faculty adviser. All courses applied toward the degree must be taken for a letter grade.

Teaching Experience

Not Required.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

Academic Senate regulations require all doctoral students to complete and pass University written and oral qualifying examinations prior to doctoral advancement to candidacy. Also, under Senate regulations the University oral qualifying examination is open only to the student and appointed members of the doctoral committee. In addition to University requirements, some graduate programs have other pre-candidacy examination requirements. What follows in this section is how students are required to fulfill all of these requirements for this doctoral program.

After students complete all coursework and foreign language requirements, the chair of the program, in consultation with the student, nominates a doctoral committee that meets university requirements, for formal appointment by the Graduate Division. The committee must include faculty from the student’s three fields plus a methodology examiner if the latter is not from one of the three fields.

Students must write a dissertation prospectus that contains (1) a full statement of the dissertation topic, including any fieldwork that may be required; (2) a historiographical discussion of the literature related to the topic; (3) a statement of the methods to be employed; and (4) a proposed bibliography to be consulted in the course of research and writing.

The doctoral committee conducts four separate written examinations, one in each of the student’s three fields and one in a methodology appropriate to the student’s dissertation. Following the written examinations, the committee conducts the University Oral Qualifying Examination, which covers the three fields, the methodology, and the basis of the dissertation prospectus. Reexamination in any field is at the discretion of the doctoral committee in consultation with the chair of the program. No single written examination shall exceed four hours.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy and awarded the Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil.) degree upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Doctoral Dissertation

Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)

Not required for all students in the program. The decision as to whether a defense is required is made by the doctoral committee.


For full-time students with no deficiencies upon admission or advancement to the Ph.D. program, the normative time from admission to approval of the dissertation prospectus, completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations, and advancement to candidacy, is two years. The normative time from advancement to candidacy to the final oral examination (defense of the dissertation), if required, and filing of the dissertation, is three years. Overall, the normative time from graduate admission to award of the Ph.D. degree is five years. Students who undertake field research abroad may require an additional one to two years to complete the program.

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Termination of Graduate Study and Appeal of Termination

University Policy

A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be recommended for termination of graduate study. A graduate student may be disqualified from continuing in the graduate program for a variety of reasons. The most common is failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average (3.00) required by the Academic Senate to remain in good standing (some programs require a higher grade point average). Other examples include failure of examinations, lack of timely progress toward the degree and poor performance in core courses. Probationary students (those with cumulative grade point averages below 3.00) are subject to immediate dismissal upon the recommendation of their department. University guidelines governing termination of graduate students, including the appeal procedure, are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.

Special Departmental or Program Policy

A recommendation for termination is made by the chair of the interdepartmental degree program, upon consultation with the student’s primary faculty adviser and the student’s doctoral committee. A student may appeal a recommendation for termination to the interdepartmental degree committee.

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