Ph.D. Curriculum

Required Enrichment Activities

The Ph.D. Program aims to train the next generation of scholars who are comfortable presenting and communicating their ideas both within the scholarly community and in professional settings outside of the academy. Through the Bridge Lab and Capstone Workshop, doctoral students are professionalized early on to present and communicate their dissertation-related works at all stages and in a diversity of forums both in and out of the Jackson School.

Beyond these two enrichment requirements, students are also encouraged to present and communicate their works well beyond the Jackson School, to academic and policy audiences. For students seeking to present their dissertation-related works (e.g. articles, chapters, etc.) in professional associations, conferences, or meetings, the Ph.D. Program can provide funds to defray some of the costs, during the 2019-2020 year. These travel funds can be requested by filling out this form and sending to the GPA for approval. Conference travel funds can be made available in future years, depending on funding availability.


The Jackson School actively recognizes the importance of communicating the understandings from academia with the public in service of our local, regional, and global community. Accordingly, the Bridge Lab is designed to train students to communicate information from their area of research expertise to non-academic audiences. First-year students are required to attend and participate in the conversation of the Bridge Lab. Second-year students are required to present and discuss at least one problem-focused piece of around 750 words drawn from their area of expertise and interest. Students should craft this piece in the style of an Op/Ed article, so that it generally communicates the importance of their ideas to external audiences. After the presentation and discussion with the Bridge Lab audience, students are encouraged to submit their piece to a news service (online or print) that reaches a general public and/or policy making audience. One set of general guidelines on the submission and publication process is provided by The Op-Ed Project.


The Capstone Workshop is designed to provide students with an introduction to presenting and discussing their work with academic audiences. It also offers students important constructive critiques to advance their research plans. Over the course of the first year, students work closely with their FAs and other members of their team to craft a draft dissertation prospectus. At the end of the first year, students are required to circulate the final version of the draft dissertation prospectus and to present it in The Jackson School Ph.D. Capstone Workshop, which is usually held on the Monday of finals week of spring quarter.

First year students must submit their draft dissertation prospectus to the GPA and Ph.D. Program Director by May 1. The Director selects a faculty member (not the previously assigned FA) who has the appropriate academic background to comment on the student’s draft. At the Ph.D. Capstone Workshop, the student will present their draft prospectus for 10 minutes. They can choose any kind of presentation style that they are comfortable with. The faculty discussant will offer commentary and questions to the student for five minutes. This is followed by 10 minutes for the student to respond to the discussant and take additional questions from the audience.

All JSIS faculty are invited to attend the Ph.D. capstone and students are welcome to invite faculty and students from other departments to attend the event. All Ph.D. students are strongly encouraged to attend this event to support their colleagues.