Third Year Paper Information

All students, regardless of field, are required to complete a paper that is deemed satisfactory by a faculty member in their dissertation field by the beginning of May of their third year of the program. Failure to meet the third year paper requirement can jeopardize funding for the fourth year.

Different fields and advisors are free to choose their own standards for an acceptable paper, which may vary on a case by case basis depending on the student's course of research. Some fields already have a field paper requirement that is typically satisfied in the third year, and typically a satisfactory field paper will also satisfy the Department's third year paper requirement, although there is no rule that this must be the case. In some cases, students will need complete a self-contained piece of original research; in other cases, a detailed research proposal may suffice; in other cases, a literature review summarizing a disciplined reading program may be sufficient.

All third year students are expected to meet regularly with at least one (and preferably more) faculty members in their chosen field to discuss their progress on the third year paper. These meetings should start early in the fall semester at the latest. Fields with a paper requirement often have a set of deadlines for proposals and drafts, which serves as the basis for discussions between students and faculty. For students in fields without a paper requirement, it is up to the student to take the initiative to meet with faculty. Faculty in all fields understand that the third year paper is an important step in the research process, and are ready to meet with students to discuss research, particularly students who are majoring in their field.

All third year students are expected to complete a progress report in the middle of the fall semester of their third year, submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies, in which they discuss field plans and list faculty that they are meeting with to discuss research. In the spring semester, third year students submit a second progress report to the Director of Graduate Studies, which must include a faculty signature certifying that the student has satisfied all field requirements as well as the third year paper requirement. Faculty advisors are required to complete the Third Year Paper Assessment Form by May 1st evaluating their student's paper.

The Department awards prizes each year for the best third year papers. First prize is a one-semester department fellowship with no duties. Second prize is $1,000 in cash. The Director of Graduate Studies invites faculty to nominate students for this prize each spring; students who are nominated must have a paper ready for review by mid-April. Third year paper prizes are announced towards the end of the spring semester. For a list of third year prize winners, click here.