Students must pass a preliminary exam in their first major field. Preliminary exams are given at the end of Winter quarter and focus on the topics covered during the Fall and Winter field seminars. Ideally students pass their preliminary exam in the first year of study; they must do so by the second year.
Students also are required to complete a field paper before advancing to candidacy. Field papers resemble articles published in professional journals, not only in structure and format, but by making original contributions to the scholarly literature on their chosen topic. These papers often emerge from seminars and frequently serve as preliminary explorations of dissertation research. They also commonly serve as prototypes for conference papers and many eventually find publication in refereed journals. In multiple respects, then, they assist students in defining and developing their own professional agendas. Both papers are typically submitted no later than the third year of enrollment, though earlier submission is both possible and encouraged.
Both the field papers and graduate seminars provide many opportunities for graduate students to develop mentoring relationships with members of the faculty. Such relationships expose students to the informal lore of our discipline and prepare them to become active participants in a professional community of teaching and research. Mentoring relationships can blossom into longstanding intellectual collaborations, at the dissertation level and beyond, and play a basic role in developing young scholars at UCLA.