Doctor of Philosophy Program Guide: Written Exams

Timeline:
  • The written exam format (72-hour or two 8-hour option; list breakdown; number of questions; number of pages required for each question) should be agreed to by the committee, and be provided to the student, at least three months before scheduling the exams.
  • After the examination has been approved by the Committee, the Chair must present it to the English Graduate Office at least twenty-four hours before the examination.
  • Committee members must read the written exam within seven days of receiving it and convey their comments and decision to pass or fail the exam to the committee chair and the English Graduate Office.
  • Written comments must be provided to the student at least a week prior to the scheduled date of the oral General Examination.

The written Ph.D. exams may be taken in either of two ways:

  1. One 72-hour examination, not to exceed 30 pages. Students obtain the questions from the English Graduate Office. Four hard copies of the answers must be handed in to the English Graduate Office 72 hours later at the same time as the exam questions were made available. Four copies of the required course syllabus must be handed in with the exam answers.
  2. Two 8-hour examinations, not to exceed 15 pages. Students obtain the questions from the English Graduate Office by 8:30 a.m. Four hard copies of the answers must be handed in to the English Graduate Office by 4:30 p.m. of the same day. Four copies of the required course syllabus must be handed in with the second set of exam answers.

No pre-written material is to be used, either computer-stored or other such prior compositions. This is regulated by an honor system. After the student hands in the written exam answers, the English Graduate Office forwards the exam questions, answers, and a comment sheet to each regular member of the committee. Committee members must read the written exam within seven days of receiving it and report their comments and decision to Pass or Fail to the English Graduate Office and the committee chair.

Writing Exam Questions. The call for questions should go out from the Committee Chair at least two weeks in advance of the examination. The written exam questions are written collaboratively by all regular Ph.D. Exam Committee members (chair and regular members, excluding GSR). The committee must see the examination before the questions are forwarded by the chair to the Graduate Office. The exam must arrive in the Graduate Office at least twenty-four hours before the examination is to be given to the student.

Results. Within a week, Committee members have one week to read the examination and return to the English Graduate Office their comments and a judgment to pass or fail the examination. Failure to respond within a week means an automatic pass. If there is disagreement among the readers, the Chair must call a meeting to attempt to resolve the disagreement. Generally, a vote of failure by two members of the Committee should be reported as a failure, but there should be a meeting to discuss the matter. After the Committee has reached a decision about the student's performance on the written examination, the Chair shall inform the student of the results, and the readers' comments on examinations shall be made available. A student may retake a failed examination only once, and may not proceed to oral General Examination until a failed written examination has been retaken and passed.