Students in both the MA/PhD and the PhD programs are required to take two qualifying examinations. The first qualifying exam, an oral exam on three defined fields of the student’s choosing, takes place in each student’s second year at the end of spring quarter.

The second qualifying exam is on a student’s dissertation prospectus and bibliography, and must take place no later than a student’s tenth quarter.

First Qualifying Exam

The first qualifying exam is designed to test the student’s familiarity with a range of literature at once various enough to encourage breadth of learning and focused enough to allow for the demonstration of intellectual grasp. Students are expected to complement their knowledge of individual works with a sense of broader historical, cultural, and intellectual contexts as well as with the ability to apply the kinds of critical tools used by professional scholars today.

Exam Reading Lists

The reading lists for the first qualifying examination will change in minor ways from year to year in response to changes in what is being taught and discussed in the profession at large. Each student is encouraged to pursue his or her own further reading program. Material not specified on the reading list can be used, where appropriate, in responding to examination questions.

Please contact the Staff Graduate Advisor for access to the full reading lists and available materials.

Second Qualifying Exam

At the appropriate time in their careers here – that is, no later than the tenth quarter – students will sit down with their dissertation committee for a ninety-minute conference on the dissertation project based on a four-to-five-page prospectus and a bibliography of at least fifty works to be constructed by the candidate in consultation with her/his committee and pre-approved by the Graduate Committee.