Preliminary (Comprehensive) Examination
This examination tests the student's mastery of the major and the supporting fields. It must be taken after course requirements IV. (1) - (5) have been met. The Preliminary Examination is given in January and August each year.
The written portion of the exam is structured as follows:
The examination covering the major is divided into two portions, each three hours in length. The first portion, to be taken in the morning, is subdivided into parts A and B. Part A features two texts for exegesis; the student is to select one. Part B contains two fairly precise questions relating to bibliographical matters, the criticism of particular works, the organization of a field of study, the validity of certain terms, etc. The student is to select one question.
The second portion of the major examination consists of four questions given to the student one week prior to the actual writing of the examination. All four questions deal, as may be deemed appropriate for the candidate, with key critical issues and interpretations, the comparison of works (genres, periods, etc.), applied literary theory, and so forth. The student selects two questions.
Each of the supporting fields receives an examination not to exceed three hours. The student is to select two out of four questions.
An oral examination follows all written portions of the Preliminary Examination. The oral exam is approximately two hours long, at the discretion of the examining committee.
The oral exam allows examiners to expand on areas of doubt from the written exams and to probe areas not included in the written exams.
The examining committee is composed of four members, representing the major and supporting fields.
Note: The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination is scheduled twice each year, in August and January. The Major exam is given first, usually on a Monday; a week prior to the Major exam the candidate is given the take-home questions. The first supporting exam is to be administered on the following Monday, with the second supporting exam on the following Wednesday. Changes in the actual days of the administration of the Preliminary Examination should allow for the same amount of time between each segment of the exam.
The candidate will receive a grade of pass or fail in each area. Failure in the major area will automatically mean failure for the entire examination. A deficiency in one supporting field may be removed by passing a written examination in that field at the time of a subsequently scheduled Preliminary Examination. Failing both supporting fields means that the entire examination must be repeated.