Guidelines for the MA Exam

1.  Selection of an examining committee and approval of the plan of study:

A student choosing the exam option will need to select three faculty members from any graduate courses he or she has taken, or will take, subject to departmental approval.  For the M. A. exam, each committee member will write a question based on his or her course.  The parameters of the exam will be left up to the discretion of each committee member.  The exam should allow students to demonstrate conceptual and contextual knowledge based on the course work.  For example, a student in Shakespeare should have a general knowledge of the Renaissance as well as the ability to analyze a specific text or issue in depth.  The student will meet with each of the three committee members to help with any needed revision of the preliminary plan of study and to finalize it by signing it.  One model that committee members may wish to employ is the one below:

For each exam, the student and professor will decide upon a mixture of works covered in the course as well as additional works not covered in the course.  For example, the professor might ask the student to read one or two more novels by an author studied, or to read one or two theoretical works and apply them to the course.  With six texts, a question can ask for synthesis or application.

Students who must submit a list of examiners to the Graduate Advisor by the last day of classes in the semester before the semester in which the exam will take place (for example, at the end of the fall semester for a spring exam). 

2. Each committee member will write one question from the course the student has taken from him or her.  Students will not be informed of the exam questions prior to the exam.

3. The entire examination will consist of three questions, one from each course, drawn up by each committee member.  The exam will be six hours long, with two hours allotted for each question.

4. Evaluation: Committee members have two options:  Pass or Fail

If a student fails the examination, he or she may take a different version of it one more time during a subsequent semester.  Students must re-take only those exams they failed.  They will not need to take the entire examination unless they failed all three parts of it.  The committee will work with each student to determine the time and date of the second examination. 

Students who wish make re-take the exam in the same semester (rather than waiting until the next semester) with the examiner’s approval.  This exam would need to be completed by the last day of finals in that semester.

Students who fail the exam a second time will be denied the M. A. degree.

Sample Questions