Notre Dame MS 65, 25r
Students applying to the Ph.D. program in Medieval Studies sometimes have questions about application procedures or specific details not addressed in our program description. The most frequently asked questions (and answers to them) appear below (in no particular order). If you still have questions about aspects of our program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 574-631-6603.
1. Should I apply for admission to the Medieval Institute for a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies or to a department that permits me to focus my fields of study around the Middle Ages?
At Notre Dame, graduate students in both the Medieval Institute and traditional departments have access to the same courses and the same professors, and the Medieval Institute study spaces and library are available for all campus medievalists. However, specific program requirements differ. For example, while history department students are allowed to take non-history courses with permission, Medieval Institute students on the history track are required to take some non-history courses. There are also differences in the schedule for qualifying exams and dissertation proposals. For a full comparison, consult the 2016-17 MI Graduate Handbook and the graduate handbook for the department in your field. Medieval Institute students graduate with an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Medieval Studies, but almost all of our graduates get jobs in disciplinary departments such as History, English, or Philosophy (since there are very few departments of Medieval Studies). Medieval Studies Ph.D.’s from Notre Dame have had a great track record for getting jobs, since we work hard to make sure that you are fully trained for your chosen discipline as well as having the “added value” of interdisciplinary training. On the other hand, getting a job in a disciplinary department with a disciplinary degree is more straightforward (you never have to prove that you can fit within a traditional framework). In the end, it comes down to you. If your interests are deeply interdisciplinary, then consider a degree in Medieval Studies.
2. What about languages?
Our students must have proficiency in at least one medieval research language and at least two modern languages. In the past, all students in our program were required to pass an exam in medieval Latin. While this is still the case for most students, it is now also possible to test in medieval Arabic or Greek instead.
Students entering our program are expected to have strong language skills when they arrive and a firm command of medieval Latin, Greek, or Arabic is required for success in our program. You will be using medieval languages in your course work and research as soon as you begin graduate work. Most successful applicants already have at least 3 to 4 years of formal Latin or other medieval language study at the college level (study on one’s own is not sufficient). Applicants with an otherwise strong record are encouraged to correct this deficiency before they apply. There are several options. Some applicants choose to “sit out” a year and use the time to do formal, intensive course work in Latin, Arabic, or Greek. Several universities (Notre Dame, among others) offer intensive elementary Latin during the summer, which you could follow up with additional course work during the regular term. A few institutions offer certificate programs in Latin and other languages that allow students to develop their competency quickly. Enrolling in a one-year or eighteen-month program before applying to the Medieval Institute could jumpstart your language acquisition. Other individuals seek out a terminal master’s program that has built-in language training that allows them to enhance their language skills and earn a master’s degree before applying to the Medieval Institute’s Ph.D. program. Some applicants with informal Latin training take the SAT test in Latin and submit the scores as an indication of their level of mastery. It would also be useful to select a writing sample for submission with your application that demonstrates your ability to use original languages in a research project. Likewise, you might wish your recommenders to evaluate your level of language proficiency in their supporting letters. When describing your language proficiency on your application, it is helpful to indicate particular texts that you have read or can read with ease
You must pass the Medieval Institute’s exam in medieval Latin, Arabic, or Greek AND an exam in one modern language no later than the end of your fourth semester. You must pass an additional exam in another language before the end of your fifth semester. Other languages may be required, depending on your program of study. If you have passed graduate-level language exams in modern languages at another university, you may be able to transfer the credit.
(Examples of the Latin exam are available here.)
4. Do you have a special policy for international students?
No. International students are considered in the same pool as U.S. students, and they receive the same funding package.
5. What is your funding package?
All of our graduate students receive funding. We offer full tuition and a stipend of between $18,450 and $30,000 (for the entering class of 2013-14) per year, guaranteed for five years. Tuition continues to be covered through the eighth year of study. Summer funding ($4,000-$7,500 for 2013) is provided for some students in good standing if they do not have it through their normal stipend. We also cover a portion of graduate student health care premiums.
7. Where do I get an application?
You can obtain an application through the Notre Dame Graduate School web site.
Your statement of intent should explain your interests and trajectory as a medievalist. Among other things, let us know: What are your special interests? What has inspired your interest in medieval studies? What is your training in the field? With whom do you hope to work at Notre Dame, and why? Why do you want a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies? If there have been any significant setbacks in your academic record that you think we should be aware of, please explain these in your statement. Statements of intent should be no longer than three pages.
9. I already have an M.A. Will I get credit for this?
All students must complete our requirements for the M.M.S. (Master of Medieval Studies), even if they enter with a master’s degree from elsewhere. With the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies (who is also the Director of the Medieval Institute), it may be possible to transfer credit for two appropriate graduate-level courses from another university.
10. Do I need an M.A. to apply?
No. Many students enter our program with just a B.A. However, we have found that it is often a considerable advantage to enter our program after completing an M.A. elsewhere. Although we require that you complete the work for another master’s degree at Notre Dame, your previous experience with graduate-level course work and the extra time for language training can be very helpful for success in our program.
11. I have applied before, do I need to complete the entire application again?
Yes, all application material, both electronic and paper, must be resubmitted with the new application, and a fee is required for each individual application. GRE scores are valid for five years, so you can resubmit the scores without taking the test again, if you are reapplying within that timeframe.
Yes. You are welcome to visit the Notre Dame campus at any time during the academic term, but this is not required. Please be sure to make appointments, in advance, with the Director of the Medieval Institute and with individual professors whose work is of interest to you. Keep in mind that if you are a finalist for admission, we will invite you to campus, usually in late February, for a prospective student visit (at our expense) to acquaint you with our program, campus, and faculty.
13. Is there a cut-off for GRE scores and the G.P.A. in order to be considered for admission?
We have no absolute cut-offs for scores, but most admitted students have combined GRE scores well above the 1200s, and a G.P.A. above 3.5 (and higher in humanities courses). We look very closely at all elements of the application.
14. Who makes the decision about my application?
The Director of Graduate Studies (=Director of the Medieval Institute) in consultation with the Graduate Committee (drawn from Medieval Institute faculty) makes all final decisions.
15. What should I send for a writing sample?
Send your most polished piece of scholarly writing, ideally a research paper (or part of a research paper) based on analysis of primary sources in their original language. Although we prefer writing on a medieval topic, this is not necessary. If your topic is not medieval, it should reflect scholarship in your primary field of interest (history, English, philosophy, etc.). Samples should be no more than 15 pages long, double-spaced, not counting notes and bibliography. If you are sending part of a longer paper, please include an abstract or a table of contents for the longer work. Written work should be in English.
16. What are the teaching requirements?
All students are required to serve as teaching assistants (T.A.’s) in their second and third year of study. This is referred to as “service.” At most, a T.A. will be assigned two discussion sections for the same course, with no more than 18 students in each section. Most advanced students also have opportunities to teach their own classes (as “teacher of record”) during the summer or academic year.
17. Do you provide students with funding to pursue research and attend conferences?
Yes. There is generous funding from both the Medieval Institute and the University to support student travel for brief research trips and to attend conferences in their field.
We usually expect letters from professors who have taught you in the past, either in undergraduate or graduate work. They should comment on your abilities as a student. Where applicable, they should also comment on your abilities in languages. Please send no more than four letters. Be sure to double-check with those writing for you to make sure that letters arrive by our deadline.
20. How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies at Notre Dame?
Students normally complete our program in six or seven years. We strongly encourage all students to finish within six years, and the university provides no more than five years of stipend funding.
21. What is the placement record for your students?
Virtually all of our students obtain academic employment, if they choose to, after they graduate. Consult our web page for highlights about our recent graduates.
24. Does Notre Dame provide housing for graduate students?
Yes. The University has housing available near the campus for both single and married graduate students. Many graduate students take advantage of University housing, while others rent or buy houses and apartments in South Bend. Rental rates and house prices are very reasonable in our area.
25. Does the Medieval Institute offer a degree via distance learning?
No. All graduate students must be enrolled on-campus until their dissertation proposals are completed. Once students have completed their proposals, they may pursue their degree while living elsewhere.