Doctor of Philosophy Program Guide: Examinations

Timeline and Satisfactory Progress:
Students should complete the Ph.D. exams in of the fourth year of graduate study (third year for those entering with a master’s degree) but must complete the Ph.D. exams by the end of the fourth year (third year for those entering with a master’s degree) in order to be making satisfactory progress.
Examinations are not administered during the summer.

The Ph.D. exams consist of written and oral components, to be completed within a three-week period. A syllabus designed by the student is required and turned in with the written examinations.

Ph.D. exams play a central role in the professional development of graduate students as scholars and teachers. They help students:

  • Develop areas of expertise for teaching and scholarship.
  • Understand and demonstrate knowledge of the history, stakes, and conversations occurring within a chosen field.
  • Cultivate the critical reading, writing, research, and professional skills required for deadline-driven academic projects and long-term independent research.
  • Discover and refine research inquiries that emerge from a contextualized understanding of a field as a prelude to intervening in and contributing to this field.

All students entering the MA/PhD program in 2018 or thereafter must use the revised exam format.  Those entering before fall 2018 may choose whether to use the old format, described in the links below, or the revised format.  Answers to FAQs about the differences between the two formats may be found here.