Global Governance and Human Security PhD Program

Resources for GGHS PhD community members

What to Expect in Your Second Year

What To Expect in Your Second Year 

In your second year, you will take a mix of required and elective courses. You are expected to register for courses yourself and should contact staff only for courses that require registration permission, or if particular obstacles to registration arise. Of the five electives you are expected to take over the course of the year one is a methods course and four are focus areas courses (see below). The required Doctoral Research Groups and Doctoral Research Design are oriented toward designing your dissertation research project and drafting your dissertation proposal. 

You are responsible for finding elective courses on your own. These courses should be designed to develop the knowledge and skills you will need for your dissertation proposal and writing. For example, if you are interested in conducting onsite interviews but have no experience doing so, you should consider taking a class in field research methods; if you are hoping to have an environmental scientist on your dissertation committee, the second year is the time to take courses in the School of Environmental Science. Some courses students have taken in the past can be found here. 

If you would like to take a course at another university, please contact the Graduate Program Director the semester prior to the course start. The course must provide unique content NOT available through UMass Boston coursework and be approved in advance. The Graduate Program Director will provide guidance on the process. Note that courses taken outside of UMass Boston are not covered by Graduate Assistantship tuition and fee waivers. 

Required Courses 

  • Doctoral Research Group (both semesters) 
  • Gender and Human Security (usually in the Fall semester)
  • Doctoral Research Design (only in Fall) 
  • Elective class from one of the focus areas 

 GGHS Focus Areas 

The degree is designed around focus areas our scholars can choose or create to support their academic and professional objectives. You should consult with your Dissertation Chair about the appropriate mix of courses within one of the following areas: 

  • Conflict Resolution 
  • Environment 
  • Gender, Human Rights, and Human Development 
  • Global Political Economy 
  • Global Health 
  • Self-designed focus areas 

Choosing a Dissertation Committee 

Dissertation committees normally consist of a Chair and three additional members (a fifth member may be added if there is a specific need for the extra member). All members of the committee must hold terminal degrees (normally a PhD) and must be active researchers in a field relevant to the dissertation topic. All additions and changes to committees must be accompanied by a new or adjusted Dissertation Tracking Form A, and kept on file in the CRHSGG Department office. “Form A” should be filled out as soon as you have chosen a chair, even if you have not chosen any other members of your committee.  

Students should choose a dissertation committee chair in their second semester in the program and must have chosen one prior to taking the first qualifying exam.  The committee chair is the person you will be working most closely with in preparing your dissertation and should be a person who can provide substantive and methodological assistance to your dissertation project, and one with whom you work well. 

Of the other members of the committee, at least one must be affiliated with the GGHS program, and at least one must be from outside UMass Boston.  For members of the committee from outside UMass Boston, a current CV must be included with Form A.  In all cases prospective committee members must explicitly indicate their willingness to serve, either by signing Form A or by sending an email in lieu of signing. 

Taking Your Second Qualifying Exam with Dissertation Committee 

A student’s committee for the second qualifying examination shall consist of the Chair and at least two other members of the Dissertation Committee as identified on GGHS Dissertation Tracking Form A. If possible, all four members should be included. 

The examination will normally take place no earlier than the student’s fourth semester in the program and no later than the fifth.  Students prepare a dissertation proposal, of no more than 8,000 words, not including abstract, references, and appendices.  The proposal should discuss the substantive focus and analytical approach of the dissertation, and review the relevant existing literature.

The oral examination takes place over two hours and includes the student, the committee members, and any other observers agreed to by both the student and the committee chair. The student and the committee chair will work together with the department staff (Kelly Ward-Mason or administrative assistant) to schedule the defense including room assignment or online modality and invitation, if applicable. 

Only committee members shall have a vote. During the oral examination, the Committee may examine the student on both the content of the proposal specifically, and on the relationship between the proposed research and the fields of global governance and human security more generally. All members of the examination committee must tentatively approve the proposal before the oral examination is scheduled and agree that it is time for this examination to be held. 

All members of the Committee must approve the proposal for the student to pass the examination and proceed to candidacy. The concerns of committee members who vote “Approve with reservations” must be addressed prior to the student proceeding to candidacy. One or more votes “do not approve” constitute a failure of the second qualifying examination. Students may retake the examination once, after substantially revising the proposal. Students who fail the exam a second time may not continue in the GGHS program. 

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