Ph. D. Program in East Asian History (History-East Asia Program)
I. Course Requirements
II. Language Requirements
III. First-year Essay, Research Papers and MA Degree
IV. M.Phil. Oral Examinations
V. Teaching Requirements
VI. Dissertation Prospectus
VII. Dissertation Defense
IX. Advanced Standing
Columbia University offers a program in East Asian History to Ph.D. students registered in either the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures or in the Department of History. The faculty, requirements, teaching assignments, and East Asian History program are the same for all students, regardless of their departmental affiliation. The History–East Asia Coordinator who works with the Directors of Graduate Studies in both Departments oversees the program.
Prior to entry into the program, the student must have completed at least three years of study in the East Asian language of specialization. In addition, a student who is a candidate for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees must fulfill the following requirements:
First-year students in East Asian History are required to enroll in History—East Asian G8910 (Introduction to History and Historiography). A total of twelve one-semester courses for credit are required, of which nine must be colloquia or seminars and one must be a bibliography course, or the equivalent, selected in consultation with the adviser.
Entering students are required to take the language placement examination in the East Asia language of specialization at the beginning of the semester in which they enter the program, unless that language was the primary language of instruction at the institution from which they received the B.A. degree. The results are forwarded to the History–East Asia Coordinator, to the DGS in EALAC, and to the respective advisers. The Ph.D. language requirement is fulfilled by receiving a B+ or better in the required Asian language courses, or by demonstrating equivalent proficiency in the language placement examination. European language requirements can be fulfilled by exam either in the History Department or in the corresponding language department. Students must pass all required languages before taking the comprehensive Oral Examination and are encouraged to do so as early as possible.
A. The primary language
1. Required for the study of Chinese history: Fifth-year Modern Chinese or the equivalent; two years Classical Chinese or the equivalent. The second year of classical Chinese includes Chinese W4007x (Readings in Classical Chinese, part 1) in the first semester and Chinese W4008y (Readings in Classical Chinese, part 2) in the second semester. The following courses may be substituted for the second semester: HSEA G8882 (Qing and Republican Documents), Chinese G8009 and G8030 (Seminar in pre-modern Chinese Literature), History—East Asia G8060 (Seminar in Sources of Chinese History), History—East Asian G8034 (Seminar on Korean Historical Texts in Chinese).
2. Required for the study of Japanese history: Fifth-year Japanese (plus one semester of a translation-intensive course); one year classical Japanese or the equivalent; one semester of Kanbun, or the equivalent.
3: Required for the study of Korean history: Fifth-year Korean or the equivalent.
4: Required for the study of Tibetan history: Third-year Tibetan or the equivalent; third-year classical Tibetan or the equivalent.
B. Second and third Asian languages
1. Required for the study of Chinese history: Pre-Qing history: three years of Japanese or the equivalent; Qing and later: advanced proficiency in a relevant language, such as Japanese, Korean, Manchu, Mongolian, Tibetan, etc., chosen in consultation with the adviser. For all: one European language, chosen in consultation with the adviser.
2. Required for the study of Japanese history: Pre-1800 history: two years of Classical Chinese. For all: one European language, chosen in consultation with the adviser. Students are encouraged to take another Asian language or languages.
3. Required for the study of Korean history: Pre-20th-century history: two years of Classical Chinese, or the equivalent; 20th century history: three years of Japanese, or the equivalent. For all: one European language, chosen in consultation with the adviser.
4. Required for the study of Tibet: For all students: reading knowledge of one European language or Japanese, chosen in consultation with adviser. For all students: three years of modern Chinese or two years of modern Chinese and one year Classical Chinese, chosen in consultation with adviser. In exceptional cases in which Chinese is not necessary for research interests, this requirement may be waived in consultation with adviser.
C. Second European language requirements:
Second European language, if required by the advisor.
All students, including those already holding an M.A., write a first-year essay, to be completed by the end of the second semester. Students who enter the program without an M.A. should apply to their department to receive the M.A. degree upon completion of the first-year essay (which will count as the M.A. thesis) and course requirements. Two additional research papers, normally written for a seminar, must be completed by the time of the oral examination. At least one of these papers must be based on research in primary sources, and at least one must deal with a topic outside the student’s major field of specialization. On completion of the first-year essay, continuation to the Ph.D. requires approval by the advisor, in consultation with the History-East Asia Coordinator and the DGS in the relevant department. Students must submit a one-page progress form at the end of each academic year. Download MA Degree Requirements for Ph.D. Students
The purpose of the oral examination is to help students develop a general knowledge of several fields of history and scholarship so as to equip them to teach and write in areas beyond those of their specific research interests. The examination committee consists of four examiners in four fields, one of which will typically be in the major field of specialization (e.g., Modern Chinese History), two outside the specialization, and one outside East Asia (e.g., 20th-century France, Theories of Imperialism, etc.), the exact composition to be determined in consultation with the adviser. The oral examination is normally taken at the end of the third year (but no later than the end of the fourth year) of PhD study.
After the first year, all students in History and EALAC get teaching assignments in the undergraduate East Asian program, offered mainly by EALAC and the Committee on Asia and the Middle East. These assignments are determined through consultation among the History-East Asia Coordinator and the DGSs of History and EALAC.
Within six months of the oral examination or before leaving for field research (whichever occurs first), the student will defend the dissertation prospectus before a committee of four faculty, including one outside the major field of specialization or representing issues of method. The composition of the committee is determined in consultation with the advisor. The prospectus is usually a refined version of the grant proposal submitted at the beginning of the third year to outside funders for dissertation research in Asia. For the purpose of fellowships requirements, it is possible to defend the prospectus in advance of the orals.
See the University rules of dissertation preparation, defense, and deposit at http://gsas.columbia.edu/content/defending-your-dissertation.
Dissertation defense, registration status, and deposit policies are as follows:
- Defense applications should ideally be submitted four – but no fewer than two – weeks before the scheduled defense date: Application for the Dissertation Defense Applications received within two weeks of the proposed defense date will not be accepted, and the defense will have to be rescheduled. GSAS no longer requires students to file the form titled Intent to Distribute and Defend. In its place, all students who intend to participate in graduation ceremonies must complete the Convocation Registration and Mailing Materials Form.
- In order to meet the Graduate School’s requirement for continuous registration, Ph.D. candidates must register for full-time enrollment each semester until the semester of distribution. Once a dissertation has been distributed, students are no longer required to register. If a student intends to distribute during a specific term and does not do so before the end of that term, the student must register in the following semester.
- To assist us in maintaining accurate information on the academic progress of our students, the committee that evaluates the dissertation proposal or prospectus must complete the Report of the Dissertation Proposal Committee form at the time of the defense of the proposal. The department should submit the completed form to GSAS immediately after the prospectus defense.
The forms used by the Dissertation Office are listed below:
- Application for Master of Philosophy
- Report of the Dissertation Proposal Committee
- Application for the Dissertation Defense
The dissertation defense is a milestone ideally reached with all five members of a student’s dissertation committee present. When a committee member can only participate from afar, an accommodation may be made by employing audio or video conferencing during the defense. A maximum of two members of the dissertation defense committee may participate remotely, but the committee chair and the sponsor must be present at the defense.
The committee chair will register the need for remote participation on the GSAS Application for the Dissertation Defense, and will sign the voting sheet on the absent member’s behalf after the defense. Committee members who must participate remotely are requested to submit comments, questions, and a provisional vote in advance so that the defense exercise may proceed in the event technical difficulties are encountered during the proceedings.
Committee Member Absence in Exceptional Circumstances
The dissertation defense committee may convene when one member is prevented from participating by extreme circumstances at the time of the defense. Such a last-minute absence will count toward the total of two members allowed to participate remotely. If possible, the absent member should submit before the defense a report containing comments, questions, and a provisional vote on the dissertation’s approval. The committee chair will convey these questions to the candidate at the defense and rule on the quality the responses made. If circumstances prevent the submission of a report before the defense, the absent member’s report should be sent as soon as possible after the defense to the dissertation defense committee chair and to the Dean of the Graduate School. The committee vote will not be considered final until the report is reviewed and the defense committee chair determines whether any further action is warranted.
Students must be registered in the semester in which they distribute their dissertation. PhD students should be aware that if they distribute their dissertation during the summer session they incur the cost registering for the term, which EALAC does not cover, so please plan your defenses accordingly.
Those students who complete the requirements for the Ph.D. program except for the dissertation receive the M.Phil. degree. Ph.D. candidates are then required to complete and submit a dissertation, which must be prepared through research by the student conducted in close consultation with his or her Ph.D. faculty sponsor. After the M.Phil. oral exam has been passed, the DGS, in consultation with the student’s dissertation sponsor, establishes a committee of two faculty members to oversee the dissertation. The dissertation committee must approve the dissertation prior to its submission for the defense, which, in accordance with University regulations, is held before five faculty members, two of whom must be from outside the department. The accepted dissertation (subject to whatever revisions the defense committee may deem appropriate) must be typed in conformity with the University’s dissertation format and deposited with the Dissertation Office, whose template may be found here.
Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a M.A. or equivalent degree in East Asian Studies may be eligible for advanced standing. These include students who received the M.A degree from a Columbia’s East Asian Studies program and those who earned a M.A degree from another institution that is the academic equivalent of the Columbia’s M.A. The granting of the Advanced Standing is decided by the department, and it gives 2 Residence Units, which will shorten the student’s study period by 4 courses. At the same time, it results in reduction of the student’s multi-year funding by one year, regardless the origin of the student’s M.A. degree.
In order to receive Advanced Standing, the student must submit his or her M.A. thesis or its equivalent, a research paper, for the department’s approval. Students with advanced standing must take eight (instead of twelve) one-semester courses for grade credits at least four of which must be graduate-level colloquia or seminars. Specific course requirements may be waived, if taken for the M.A., subject to the approval of the DGS. All other requirements remain the same as those of the Ph.D. program.
Note: The Admissions Committee of the Department may recommend transfer of a student into the free-standing M.A. program if he or she does not show sufficient progress after the first year in the Ph.D. program.