After a long hiatus I'm back. During my absence I completed my written exams, which I've blogged about and then 2 weeks later I endured my hazing which is a 1.5 hour oral defense of essentially everything I ought to know about my area of research as negotiated with my committee of four people before all this started and I passed! So now I get to replace the M.A. after my name with Ph.C. which means Ph.D candidate. I get the D after I write my dissertation which is looking like it's going to be over 200 pages and about 6-7 chapters long.
People unfamiliar with academia often ask the same questions so here's an FAQ:
1. So are you a doctor now?
No, not til I finish writing my dissertation AND survive an oral defense of my arguments. Probably another 1-2 hour grilling by my committee and possible others. I know at SFU dissertation defenses were public events. Luckily I don't think they do that at my school. So not until I finish and defend my dissertation do I earn my D.
2. When do you graduate?
It's more a matter of completing a project than a matter of time. I graduate when I finish writing my dissertation and pass my oral defense. The more scary question is when does my funding dry up. For me, December 2010. So if I'm not done by then I need to either find an assistantship (research assistant or teaching assistant or other teaching job) at my school to get the tuition waiver, or I'll have to pay tuition out of my own pocket to cover my dissertation credits while I finish up. Either way, not finishing on time will fucking suck the big one and really stress me out.
3. What classes are you taking?
I finished my coursework last year so when I say I'm in class, I'm either in a class that I'm auditing for fun (because it wasn't offered when I was taking classes) or I'm in an undergrad lecture for the course I TA (teach).
4. If you aren't taking classes, what the hell do you do all day?
I TA two hours a week, hold office hours a couple hours a week (when my students come with questions or help or whatever), and attend lecture for the class I TA 4 hours a week. Aside from teaching related stuff and attending talks from visiting scholars (pretty much an expectation for us), I'm not at school at all.
Instead I'm usually at a coffee shop or at home writing my prospectus, which is a 15-20 page detailed plan of what my dissertation is about. At the same time I'm trying to revise and edit old papers and submit them to academic journals for publication because that's kind of the academic scorecard at research universities like mine. Publish or perish (or teach a huge load at a community college).
And the other big thing we need to do continuously is present papers at conferences. So between teaching, trying to publish, attending conferences, and working on my prospectus, I haven't got a lot of spare time on my hands. Which is why when I was prepping for exams I had absolutely NO time on my hands. Essentially I had to do all that stuff PLUS read 2-3 books and articles a day for about 4 months. Now I'm back to a more normal and humane schedule. Thanks the gods for that.
So yeah, it's been 3 weeks since I passed my orals and advanced to candidacy so I've been resting, catching up on sleep and exercise, and I also just came back from a conference in New Orleans. Now I'm already behind on getting my prospectus done. It's kinda like running on a treadmill on level 10, constantly.