School of Interdisciplinary Studies Comparative Literature

Examination Information

Please see the Comparative Literature Graduate Manual.

The Plan of Study

The student, in consultation with the Chair of Comparative Literature, begins preparation for the drafting of a Plan of Study. This process includes the choosing of a committee - for the M.A., an M.A. Advisory Committee; the Ph.D., a Ph.D. Preliminary Examination Committee - and a major professor who will chair that committee. At the M.A. level, the committee will typically be composed of the major professor plus two other committee members; at the Ph.D. level, the major professor plus three others. It is the student's responsibility to approach each of these professors in order to ascertain their willingness to participate on the committee.

The student, in consultation with the major professor, drafts a proposed Plan of Study. This must be submitted using the Electronic Plan of Study guidelines provided by the Graduate School. This must be submitted to the Chair of Comparative Literature no later than the 10th week of the student's second semester in the M.A. or Ph.D. program. The Chair of Comparative Literature will either approve this plan or suggest revisions.


Preparation for Written Examinations

Written examinations are typically administered in the 10th week of the student's fourth semester in the M.A. or Ph.D. program, following the guidelines of either English or Languages & Cultures, as appropriate. The major professor, as Chair of the M.A. Advisory or the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination Committee, must present the Chair of Comparative Literature with the complete text of a proposed written examination by no later than Monday of the 8th week of the semester in which the examination is to be administered. The Chair of Comparative Literature will either approve this proposed examination or suggest revisions.

Examination questions are typically composed by the major professor and the other members of the M.A. Advisory or the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination Committee, according to the general guidelines. Occasionally some examination questions are contributed by faculty other than those on the student's committee; in such instances the contributing faculty should also be asked to read and grade the student's answers to the questions these faculty have composed.

The major professor, as Chair of the M.A. Advisory or the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination Committee, must arrange for a room in which to administer the examination. Reservations for a conference room or a computer should be made early - no later than six weeks before the date of the examination - in order to assure availability.


Grading Procedures

Each member of the M.A. Advisory or the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination Committee will receive a copy of the student's examination papers.  The committee chair is responsible for coordinating the grading of the exam.  The grading scale is as follows: HP (High Pass, work distinguished by excellence and an unusual ability to relate to important scholarship in the field); P (Pass, entirely satisfactory and solid work with a good command of the prescribed texts); LP (Low Pass, acceptable but undistinguished work); or F (Failure, unacceptable work requiring that the examination be taken again). Written comments may or may not be provided.

Grading should be completed with all feasible dispatch. The period between the administration of a written examination and the aware of a grade can be very stressful for the student, so it is important to keep this as short as possible. In no case should the entire grading process exceed 14 days beyond the first day of the examination itself.

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