The IU Graduate School Bloomington (GSB) maintains requirements and rules for all Ph.D. degrees. Students must comply with all GSB rules, as well as the specific requirements outlined in this handbook. Consult the University Graduate School Bulletin for details.
Students should be aware that the regulations governing the Ph.D.—deadlines, format for dissertation submissions, etc.—are exceptionally specific and rigorous. It is VERY important to carefully follow these regulations.
Transition to Ph.D.
Please be aware that admission to the MELC MA program and its successful completion does not guarantee acceptance into the department’s Ph.D. program. MA students who are interested in continuing study for the Ph.D., whether in MELC, in another department at IU, or at another university, should begin exploring appropriate Ph.D. programs, at the latest, during the fall semester prior to their anticipated matriculation.
Ph.D. programs are more specialized and focused than the MA, so interested students should contact specialists at IU or elsewhere in the field they intend to pursue to determine appropriate programs.
Internal Ph.D. Applications
MELC MA students wishing to apply for the MELC Ph.D. program should do so in the spring semester before the fall semester of their anticipated Ph.D. program matriculation. The student should first consult with a faculty member who is willing to serve as his/her Ph.D. advisor.
Internal applicants are required to submit an online application via One.IU. Internal applicants are not required to pay another application fee.
Internal applicants should also submit:
An IU transcript (original; self-printed copies are not accepted)
Two letters of recommendation, normally from MELC or IU faculty, including one faculty member who agrees to serve as the student’s Ph.D. advisor.
A statement of purpose consisting of 1-2 typed pages. This should explain the student’s field of specialization for the Ph.D., how training up to this point has prepared him/her for advanced study, and what program of study he/she intends to pursue.
The deadline for internal Ph.D. applications for Fall 2023 is December 15, 2023.
A total of 75 credit hours of qualified coursework (including up to 30 hours of MA transferred coursework) in MELC and related departments approved by the student’s Ph.D. advisor and the MELC DGS are required for the Ph.D. in MELC. The student’s curriculum should focus on a major disciplinary field and two minor MELC fields, and these will serve as the basis for the Ph.D. qualifying examination.
An additional 15 credit hours are needed to reach the IU requirement of 90 credit hours for the Ph.D. These may be in actual graduate coursework or in Ph.D. thesis hours (M810).
BA in an appropriate field with at least a 3.0 GPA
International students: 79 TOEFL or 6.5 IELTS
Students entering with a BA who are not native speakers of their intended major language should have already studied at least two years of their intended major language.
Students entering with an MA who are not native speakers of their intended major language should have already studied at least three years of their intended major language.
Students may also demonstrate language proficiency by examination in MELC or in the appropriate language department (in the case of Persian, Turkish or other Middle Eastern Languages). Any other exceptions must be approved by the Department Chair.
The Ph.D. requires a total of 90 credits, with at least 75 credits of classwork (including up to 30 hours transferred from a previous MA if a student is admitted to the MELC Ph.D. program with a relevant MA degree, or from relevant graduate coursework that has not been applied to any degree). The remaining 15 credits are normally satisfied with dissertation research credits (MELC- M810). With approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the student’s advisory committee, students may take more than 75 credits of classwork, but they must take at least 3 credits of dissertation research so that their dissertation may be graded. Courses in the student’s first year will normally be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. By the end of the student’s first year of study, the student must have formed an advisory committee. For subsequent years of study, the Chair of the advisory committee will approve the student’s courses before enrollment. The following are specific requirements:
Primary field: Students will select one of the following three MELC core areas as their primary field: Arabic Linguistics; Islamic Studies and Pre- Modern Middle Eastern Cultures; or the Modern Middle East.
Secondary concentration: Students will select a secondary concentration from among the following four MELC core areas: Arabic Linguistics; Islamic Studies and Pre-Modern Middle Eastern Cultures; Modern Middle East; Pre-Islamic North Africa and East Mediterranean Studies. Students will take at least four courses in this secondary concentration (four courses, 12 credits).
MELC distribution courses: Students will take at least two courses in each of the remaining MELC core areas other than their primary field and their secondary concentration (four courses, 12 credits).
Ph.D. students are required to complete at least one minor in a field outside of MELC but related to their Ph.D. program, usually to acquire disciplinary credentials. Requirements for the outside minor are determined by the outside department; most departments require four courses (12 credits) to complete a minor. That department has the right to participate in the student’s oral exams, to approve of the student’s candidacy, and to be represented on the student’s dissertation research committee. Students should consult their outside minor advisor or DGS as well as the University Graduate School Bulletin for additional information.
Three non-English languages are required: a major MELC language, a minor MELC language, and a European research language.
The primary field's credit requirement is variable. It encompasses all credits earned, excluding those taken to fulfil other requirements.
Major Middle Eastern language (normally Arabic; Persian or Turkish also available): Non-native speakers must demonstrate proficiency in their major Middle Eastern language equivalent to the sixth year of study. This requirement may be satisfied by coursework, passing a proficiency examination, or a combination of the two. Native speakers must write at least two substantial research papers (about 25 pages or more) in which the majority of their sources are in the major language.
Secondary Middle Eastern language (normally Persian or Turkish; other options include Hebrew, Kurdish and Ancient Egyptian): Students must demonstrate proficiency equivalent to the second year of study. This requirement may be satisfied by coursework, passing a proficiency examination, or a combination of the two.
European research language (normally French or German; another relevant European language may be substituted by departmental permission): By the end of their second year of study, students must pass the BEST proficiency test or pass the second semester of the appropriate graduate student reading course in the selected European research language.
Arabic pedagogy requirement: All students focusing on Arabic and Islamic Studies will take MELC-M 698, “Introduction to Arabic Pedagogy.” This course may be used to fulfill the Primary Field, Secondary Concentration, or MELC distribution requirements.
Please Note: Graduate language reading course in French, German, Spanish, etc., do not count towards the credit hours required for a MELC graduate degree.
For students who begin their program with a high level of proficiency in their major or minor language (whether attained through previous instruction or because they are native speakers), the language should be satisfied by seminars or research courses with substantial content in the major language, to be approved by the MELC Director of Graduate Studies and documented in writing by the course instructor.
Second year exams for students entering without an MA: Students entering the Ph.D. program without having previously been awarded an MA will take examinations in two fields of Middle Eastern history and in their major language (at least fourth year proficiency) at the end of their second year of study, and will submit a thesis of at least 50 pages on a topic approved by the Chair of their advisory committee, which they should have formed by the end of their first year of study as described above. This thesis may be an expanded version of a paper submitted for one of their MELC courses. Students must receive a grade of at least B on each of their exams and on their thesis to be approved to continue on to the Ph.D. If desired, students approved to continue on to the Ph.D. may apply for the conferral of an MA. Students receiving a C or D on any of their exams or on their thesis will be approved to receive a terminal MA and but will be dismissed from the program. Students receiving an F on any of their exams or on their thesis will be dismissed from the program without receiving a terminal MA.
Students entering with an MA: Students who are admitted to the MELC Ph.D. program having previously earned an MA in an appropriate preparatory field may transfer up to 30 credits of graduate coursework from their previous institution, and apply those credits to the Ph.D. with the approval of their Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. The Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies will determine which of the above requirements may be partly or fully met by this previous coursework, and which requirements must still be partly or completely met by courses taken at Indiana University. Students who have already earned an MA before admission into the Ph.D. program will not be required to take second-year exams or submit a thesis.
Current graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences departments, or other schools at IUB, who want to pursue a double major in MELC are required to:
Meet with the DGS of your current department to discuss the feasibility/advisability of a double major degree
Meet with the MELC DGS
Submit online admission application. All IU students, including international students, applying to another department at IU are considered domestic applicants or admission purposes and therefore must complete a new application for admission to the second degree program.
Include in the statement of purpose your reasons for pursuing a double degree, and for Ph.D. students, indicate which MELC faculty member(s) would serve as your MELC advisor and committee members.
You may reuse your original GRE or TOEFL scores and original letters of recommendation if they are still valid, but you should have at least one letter from an IU faculty member in your current department and one from a MELC faculty member if you have taken MELC courses.
>Applications submitted by December 15th are guaranteed to receive full consideration for financial aid in the coming fall semester.
Once admitted, double Ph.D. students must complete an Advisory Committee form for the double Ph.D. Please consult the HLS Graduate Office for information.
In consultation with his/her Ph.D. advisor, each student should form a Ph.D. Advisory Committee by the end of the first year of Ph.D. study. This committee normally consists of the Ph.D. advisor (normally responsible for the student’s major MELC field), two other MELC faculty members (corresponding to the student’s two minor MELC fields), and a representative from the student’s outside Ph.D. minor field (if the student is pursuing more than one outside minor, a representative from each outside minor field). In no case shall the committee consist of fewer than two different MELC faculty members in addition to the minor field representatives.
Once the student has formed the committee, the committee members must be approved by the College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Division. Students may obtain this approval by going to the College of Arts and Sciences Student Portal website and choosing “Appointment of Doctoral Advisory Committee.”
Upon completion of their coursework, students will take written qualifying examinations. The oral examination must be taken within four weeks of the written examinations.
This exam should be taken when the student has completed all coursework and language requirements, but no later than seven years after the earliest coursework the student intends to count towards the degree. Exam dates will not be approved until all grades of incomplete have been cleared and all transfer credits have been processed.
Students will be examined on one major and two minor MELC fields. The three fields should be approved by the DGS. In consultation with their advisory committee Chair and the members of their examination committee, Ph.D. students may choose to complete their qualifying examinations in one of three ways: (1) students may take one four-hour exam in their major field, and one three-hour exam in each of their minor MELC fields, to be taken during a single two-day exam period; (2) Students may sit the exams as take-home exams, and take up to three days to complete their major field exam, and up to two days to complete each of their minor field exams; (3) Students may write research papers on subjects corresponding to their major and minor fields; they will have up to one month to complete these research papers. Upon successful completion of the written examinations, a student will take the oral examination within four weeks of the written examination. These examinations may be retaken once in whole or in part at the discretion of the examination committee. The minor department may choose to give an exam.
The exam questions are provided by the faculty members on the student’s advisory committee, and no single committee member may provide questions for more than two exam segments.
The oral qualifying examination is to be held not less than one week and not more than four weeks after the written exams. The date of the oral exam is the one used for determining the seven-year periods for currency of courses and for completion of the dissertation. At least three MELC faculty members, including all who have provided written exam questions, must be present and participate in the oral examinations. If only two MELC faculty members have served on the advisory committee and provided written exam questions, a third member will be appointed by the DGS or department Chair to read the written exams and participate in the oral examination and assessment.
For the outside minor fields, students should check with the department(s) offering the minor(s) to ascertain whether any examinations or other final projects are required. If there is a written minor field examination in the outside department, MELC does not require that the examination be taken during the same days as the MELC exams. Whether or not there is a written minor field exam, the minor field department may have a representative present at and participating in the oral qualifying exam, if it so desires.
At least one semester prior to taking the exams, students should meet with all members of their advisory committee to confirm which faculty member will provide questions for each of the three exam fields, and to agree on exam dates and reading lists. Exam dates and reading lists must be turned in to the HLS Graduate Office at least 60 days prior to the exam dates proposed by submitting the HLS Doctoral Qualifying Examination Form.
All three MELC faculty members present at the oral exams, as well as any minor field representatives who have participated, shall read all segments of the written exam, and participate in the exam assessment. Faculty members who provided written exam questions will contribute a written evaluation and assign a grade of High Pass, Pass, or Fail for each exam segment they provided. The remaining faculty member(s) will not assign any grades but will read all exams and will submit a brief (one-paragraph) evaluation endorsing the results.
When all language and course requirements have been fulfilled and after the examiners have certified that the qualifying examinations have been passed, the Department shall submit a Nomination to Candidacy form to the Graduate School. Upon approval of the Dean, the Graduate School will award the student a Certificate of Candidacy. The date of admission to candidacy is the date of completion of the qualifying exams. Ph.D. Candidacy is valid for 7 years from the date of your passed qualifying exam.
The Nomination to Candidacy form can be found at the University Graduate School’s ONE.IU. The eDoc can be found by searching the One.iu.edu. At the time of submission, an Excel doc outlining your course history, course number and name, credit hours, grade, and use (contact email@example.com with questions). The student will need to initiate the document for the department to submit to the GSB for approval.
Students are required to enroll for at least one hour of credit each fall and spring semester until they complete their degree or until their candidacy expires seven years from the date of their qualifying examination. If students fail to register for one or more semesters, they will be required to register retroactively before their degree will be granted. This involves paying the tuition and a $250.00 retroactive fee for each semester. If your candidacy expires, student status will be suspended, and registration will not be allowed until candidacy has been reinstated according to the Graduate School Bloomington procedures. Once reinstated, the student must again register for each fall and spring semester until completion of the degree or until candidacy lapses after three years. Failure to meet these requirements will automatically terminate the student’s enrollment in the degree program. A candidate who will be graduated in June, July, or August of any year must enroll in a minimum of one credit hour as described above in either the current or the immediately preceding summer session. (See the Graduate School Bloomington Bulletin).
International Ph.D. candidates who have completed their coursework requirements and are ABD will be required to enroll as a full-time student each semester, at the beginning of the semester (retroactive enrollment is not possible owing to F-1 status requirements). Full-time enrollment can be one credit hour of dissertation research, 6 credit hours of G901, or other enrollment as required for other purposes (e.g. students with an SAA may be required to enroll in 6 or more credits per semester). Additional information for international student enrollment requirements can be found on the OIS website.
G901 fulfills the continuous enrollment requirement at minimal cost. These conditions apply :
Student must have completed 90 credit hours or more of graduate coursework.
Student must have attained candidacy.
Student must not be enrolled in any other classes.
Student must not have already enrolled in six semesters of G901.
The Research Committee is appointed after the completion of the qualifying examinations. It may or may not be the same as the Ph.D. Advisory Committee. The Ph.D. advisor assists the student in selecting a dissertation research committee. The committee must include a committee chair (normally the Ph.D. Advisor, and the student’s primary mentor for the dissertation), two additional members of the MELC faculty, and a representative from each outside Ph.D. minor department. Occasionally, an appropriate specialist from outside the University can be included in the committee.
Candidates choose their dissertation chair and dissertation committee in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The committee is usually composed of four or five faculty members, all of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty. The dissertation chair must also have the endorsement to direct dissertation, and the rest of the committee must be regular graduate faculty members. The committee must include a representative from the student’s minor (or from each minor if more than one) unless a waiver to that effect has been obtained from the respective department. The membership of the research committee and the dissertation prospectus must be approved by the Graduate School Bloomington at least six months before the defense of the dissertation. The Graduate School Bulletin lists the individuals who have been appointed to membership in the Graduate School faculty; on specific regulations concerning the composition of the dissertation committee, consult the Graduate School Bloomington Bulletin. Refer to the lists of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Faculty and Adjunct Faculty for scholarly resources available for Ph.D. dissertation committees.
Committee members who, because of absence or illness, are unable to continue serving on the candidate’s committee will inform the director so that a suitable replacement can be named by the Department Chair, after consultation with the candidate.
The Nomination of Research Committee for the Ph.D. form must be completed, signed, and submitted to the Graduate School Bloomington for approval. The Nomination of Research Committee for the Ph.D. can be found here.
The student must submit and have received acceptance of his or her dissertation within seven years after passing the qualifying examination. Failure to meet this requirement will result in the termination of candidacy and of the student’s enrollment in the degree department. Any student whose candidacy lapses will be required to apply to the Graduate School for reinstatement before further work toward the degree may formally be done.
If a doctoral student fails the written qualifying examinations twice, fails the oral qualifying exam twice, falls below a 3.5 average, or fails to complete the written and oral examinations by the end of the approved length of time, the director of graduate studies, in consultation with the research committee, can initiate steps to terminate the student’s enrollment in the program.
A dissertation is required and is graded under M810 and G901. The number of credits granted under M810 often varies since the credits should bring the student’s total hours to 90. Only one credit hour of M810 or G901 is required for acceptance of the dissertation; no more than 15 credits hours of dissertation research may be included in the minimum of 90 credit hours required for the doctoral degree. The grade of “R” is automatically awarded for work on the dissertation until it is defended and accepted.
Besides being a contribution to scholarship, the dissertation represents the culmination of the student’s course work. Translations are normally not acceptable projects for dissertation. In line with current Graduate
School policy, no dissertation may be published prior to its formal acceptance by the committee in charge; however, portions of a dissertation-in-progress may be submitted for publication with the permission of the committee.
A dissertation proposal should be presented to the student’s dissertation director shortly after admission to candidacy. It should be three to five pages in length (excluding bibliography) and include the following elements:
Title of dissertation
Description of topic
The rationale behind the choice of topic, and the anticipated contribution of the proposed research to knowledge
Current state of research on the topic and basic bibliography
Method and plan of work, including the general approach
The above elements should be presented in narrative form. The proposal need not present the actual arrangement of chapters, although in some cases this may be feasible and desirable. Students doing a dual Ph.D. with another department should be aware that that department may have specific requirements for the format and/or defense of the dissertation proposal.
Once the director has signed it, the proposal will be sent to the Department Chair for approval of the topic and the composition of the committee. Upon approving the proposal, the Chair will routinely ask the dissertation director to convene a meeting of the candidate and the dissertation committee for a detailed discussion of the project.
Candidates are advised to consult with their dissertation committee chair concerning all procedures to be followed in preparing the dissertation. Early involvement of all members of the committee in the ongoing work is strongly recommended. All members are required to submit reader’s reports.
It is recommended that students use the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers unless the dissertation committee suggests the use of another manual more appropriate to the subject matter. The following website, Guide to Preparation of Thesis and Dissertations, will provide additional information.
The dissertation defense is an oral examination held after the dissertation has been completed but before it has been bound. The student must arrange the time and date of this defense with the dissertation director and the members of his or her committee at least five weeks in advance. Any member of the Graduate School faculty at Indiana University may attend the defense, as well as interested graduate students.
An announcement of the defense of no less than 150 words must be submitted to the Graduate School Bloomington. The Dissertation Defense Announcement is submitted through the IU Graduate School Bloomington (GSB) ONE.IU portal. The announcement should be informative and contain a brief statement of the principal results and conclusions. The announcement edoc must be received by the IU Graduate School Bloomington at least 30 days prior to your defense. To accommodate this timeline, please submit the eDoc no later than 45 days before your defense date.
While committee members should not place inordinate constraints on their availability, the student also bears responsibility for considering the time limitation of the faculty. We discourage holding defenses during breaks when faculty and students would be unable to attend. Similarly, students should plan appropriately if they are aware their committee members have summer research obligations or are on appointments that do
not require them to be on campus during the summer. All doctoral defenses should be held on the campus in which the degree is awarded.
All candidates must fulfill the following requirements, regardless of the chosen submission method.
You must defend your dissertation publicly.
You’ll need to decide if you want to register your copyright. Copyright registration is optional, and the fee is $75 through ProQuest. You should pay the fee directly to ProQuest electronically.
You may also make your dissertation available via open access for free through IU Libraries’ IU Scholar Works site.
For more information contact the Doctoral Recorder, Shelly Oberdier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may submit your dissertation online through ProQuest. Make sure you read all submission instructions before attempting to submit through ProQuest. The link to the submission page can be found on the Graduate School Bloomington website.
Once at the site, select “Submit my dissertation/thesis,” and follow the instructions. When creating your account, enter the email address you use most. Once you’ve completed the final step, you will receive an email confirming your submission. You’ll learn by email whether your dissertation requires any formatting changes within about a week. If so, the email you receive will contain instructions for making these.
If applicable, the student should request the Department to apply for Transfer of Graduate Credit before taking the qualifying examinations. The qualifying examinations must be passed at least 8 months before the degree can be awarded. The student must initiate the Nomination to Candidacy form after the student passes the qualifying examination. The department will submit the form to the Graduate School Bloomington for approval.
The Nomination to Research Committee for must be approved by the Graduate School Bloomington at least 6 months before the defense of the dissertation.
At least 30 days prior to the scheduled defense of the dissertation, the candidate must submit to the Graduate School Bloomington and the Department a defense announcement using the UGS ONE.IU or following the link provided.
Please Note: By this point, student must have completed a total of 90 applicable credit hours (excluding G901) before the degree can be awarded.
The student must defend their dissertation and submit the Defense Signature Collection edoc to the Graduate School Bloomington office and submit the completed dissertation to ProQuest within exactly seven years of passing the qualifying examination. Any formatting changes, grade changes, etc. can be completed after the candidacy expires. This requirement is rigorously enforced.
Students who have passed the qualifying examination must enroll each semester thereafter (excluding summer sessions unless the student is to graduate in June, July, or August). Candidates graduating during these months must enroll in one hour of credit in the current or immediately preceding summer session.
Please see the checklist of important milestones for the Ph.D.
Please Note: Should the Graduate School Recorder discover any problems, degree conferral may be postponed.
Two to three months after the degree is conferred diplomas are mailed to the student’s permanent address by the Office of the Registrar. It is the student’s responsibility to verify that the Office of the Registrar has the proper address on file
Ph.D. in MiddleEastern Languages and Cultures Checklist
Language requirements, MELC course requirements, outside Ph.D. courses
Ph.D. advisory committee
Committee consisting of at least 2 MELC faculty and outside minor representative. Form can be found on COLL website.
Must be submitted by the end of 1st year of study. Usually end of spring semester
Ph.D. Qualifying Exams
Meet with members of Advisory Committee to discuss reading lists and exam formats at least one semester before taking exams. Consists of 1 Major MELC, and 2 Minor MELC exams. May include outside Ph.D. minor exam.
Reading lists and exam dates must be submitted 60 days in advance to the HLS Graduate Studies Office. The exam must be passed at least 8 months before the degree is awarded.
After passing the qualifying exams, students must enroll in at least 1 credit hour of a Thesis Course each semester until they graduate.
Must register for M810 or G901 by Registrar’s deadlines each semester.
Ph.D. Nomination to candidacy (edoc)
Student must initiate edoc after all coursework, requirements, and passing the qualifying exams.
Completed after passing qualifying Exams in a timely manner.
Ph.D. research committee (edoc)
The Research Committee consists of at least 3 MELC faculty members and the outside minor representative. The dissertation prospectus that has been approved by the committee will also be attached to the edoc for approval.
The edoc must be initiated and approved by the UGS 6 months in advance of the dissertation defense.
The student will work on their research and dissertation with advising from their Research Committee.
Dissertation defense (edoc)
The defense occurs after the completion of the dissertation but before it has been bound. The student will need to have properly formatted Acceptance and Abstract pages for committee members to sign after a successful defense.
The document must be completed 30 days in advance of the proposed dissertation defense date.
The dissertation can be submitted online, and the specific requirements can be found on the UGS website. The abstract and acceptance pages must be original signed documents. Thesis course letter grades need to be submitted to the Graduate Secretary after the dissertation is submitted.
The dissertation must be submitted by the 15th of the intended graduation month, except May and December. Please refer to the grad school webpage for official deadlines.
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