STEP Program

Seminar Toward Entering the Profession (STEP)

The department offers its students in the PhD program a wide range of activities and opportunities designed to ease the transition from the status of doctoral student to that of assistant professor. By taking part in the Seminar Towards Entering the Profession (STEP), students will begin to build a dossier to use when they enter the academic job market.

STEP Parts

1. A Series of Informational Meetings Led by Faculty Members (STEP Seminars)

Throughout the year, meeting are organized in which a faculty member discusses topics such as the following:

  • Constituting a dossier (what belongs in a dossier, how to write a CV, how to handle letters of recommendation, how should the dissertation project be presented);
  • Joining the conference tour (how to find out about conferences in our field, how to write and abstract, how to present a paper, how to make connections);
  • Publishing (what is the difference between a good seminar paper and an article, what are the types of publications available, what are the types of styles expected);
  • Preparing for the MLA (how to use and decipher the MLA job list [paper and electronic version], how to write a letter of application, how to prepare for an interview, what is to be expected from a campus interview, mock interviews with faculty members for those who are actually entering the job market that year).

All graduate students, including those in the MA program in French and Italian, as well as students from other departments, are welcome and encouraged to take part in such sessions.

2. Support for Travel to Academic Conferences

Both the department of French and Italian and the School of Arts and Sciences have set aside funds to help doctoral students travel to conferences (PDF) where one of their papers has been accepted.

In order to be eligible, the students must present a paper, and write a brief report on the conference whey they return, including the names of three established scholars with whom they established some form of connection.

3. Teaching Apprenticeship

Students who have been admitted to candidacy (i.e., who have had their prospectus accepted) can acquire experience in teaching courses in literature and culture by serving as teaching apprentice in an undergraduate course offered by a faculty member. They will usually choose a course that is connected to their dissertation.

The faculty member will involve the teaching apprentice in designing the syllabus, the assignments and the exams, as well as in grading the papers and commenting upon the oral presentations. The apprentice will have the responsibility of teaching between three and six contact hours, under the supervision of the faculty member.

Teaching apprentices are required to attend all class meetings. They will receive three credits under a course number specially designed as Teaching Apprenticeship.

At the chairperson’s discretion, a teaching apprenticeship can count as three of ten credit hours Teaching Fellows have to teach each year. Students must send an application letter to the chair at least two months before the beginning of the term, after having discussed the issue with (and obtained the agreement of) the faculty member teaching the undergraduate course.

4. Stand Alone Courses in Literature

PhD candidates who are about to complete their dissertation and enter the job market may apply to teach a literature course (at the 1000 level) as a stand-alone course.

This course will usually be taught during one of the summer terms. Students will work under the supervision of one (or several) faculty member(s) who will approve the syllabus, guide, and advise the PhD candidate throughout the term.

To be eligible, PhD candidates must:

  • Progress satisfactorily towards the completion of their dissertation
  • Have an outstanding teaching record
  • Have performed satisfactorily in a previous teaching apprenticeship
  • Propose a version of a course from the departmental offerings

The department cannot guarantee that each PhD candidate will be able to participate in this program. There may be too many applicants for the number of courses the department can offer, and low enrollment may lea to the cancellation of a scheduled course (often at the last minute). The final decision on such issues belongs to the chairperson and university administrators.