Examination

Students must apply for graduation during the semester prior to the semester in which they plan to graduate; please consult the university calendar in the General Catalog or the "Important Dates" link in the graduate school website for specific deadlines—failure to meet the deadline will postpone the graduation date. Students must purchase an Application for Graduation form at the cashier’s office, complete it, and deliver it to Admissions and Records. Students must be enrolled in a comprehensive examination course (FLL 795) during the semester in which they take the MA exams. The credits for this S/U course may not be applied toward satisfying the credit requirements for the degree.

Comprehensive Examination: Written


Comprehensive and oral examinations, which are administered by the program after the language requirement has been met and after most of the coursework is completed, are designed to ensure that the student has attained a reasonable level of mastery in the chosen field of specialization. In consultation with the chair of the student’s A-E committee and the graduate director in Spanish, the student registers for the comprehensive examination course (FLL 795) and a date is set (usually, for late Spring or late Fall) for the examination.

Examinations cover the material that one might reasonably expect a candidate for an MA degree to know, as reflected in each of the three discipline’s reading lists and in graduate coursework completed. While the department makes every effort to offer courses in a wide variety of areas, the four to six semesters of a typical full-time student’s MA program are insufficient to cover every area. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the candidate to prepare for the examination by carefully studying all of the works on the reading list and by conducting any additional research that the A-E committee recommends.

The chair of the student’s A-E committee is responsible for creating or approving the written examination questions in cooperation with other members of the committee and the graduate faculty, with a view to assuring that the exam is fair and appropriate. The student should consult with the committee chair to learn the exact date(s) and start and end times of the examination. No reference materials other than bilingual and monolingual dictionaries are allowed. The student may photocopy (at the department’s expense) the examination questions and answers immediately after completing it. The student may view the original, which remains on file in the department office, only when the student is accompanied by the A-E committee chair. Although the content and format of examinations may change from year to year, copies of examination questions from the previous five years are on file in the department office and are available to students, who may make copies of the exams without removing the originals from the office. The final written examination and any sections thereof shall be evaluated exclusively on the basis of what the student has written during that examination. Any faculty member who evaluates the written examination shall not discuss the examination or the reading list with the student until the results of that member's evaluation (Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory) have been submitted in writing to the graduate director and to the student's A-E committee chair.

The A-E committee determines whether the student has completed the examination satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily. In arriving at its determination, the committee may consult with faculty who have submitted questions and with other graduate faculty. No more than one retake of the comprehensive examination, in whole or in part, is allowed. Any retake must take place by the end of the subsequent semester and no later. If a student earns a grade of unsatisfactory (U), in-progress (X), or incomplete (I) in the examination course, that grade must be improved to satisfactory (S) during the immediately subsequent semester, or the graduate school will remove the student from graduate standing. No student shall undergo the final oral examination unless and until all sections of the final written examination have been completed with a grade of Satisfactory, as determined by the student's A-E committee.

Comprehensive Examination: Oral

Students who have satisfactorily completed the written comprehensive examination are required to undergo a final oral examination no sooner than two weeks after completion of the former. The oral examination, directed by the student’s A-E committee chair, consists of two parts: 1) for a Plan A student, a discussion of the thesis, and for a Plan B student, an oral presentation as described below; and 2) questions about and discussion of areas covered in the reading list and topics relevant to the discipline. The first part lasts no more than 30 minutes and the second no more than 90 minutes.

Oral Presentation

Two weeks before the written comprehensive examination, the student, in consultation with the chair of the A-E committee, chooses a literary work (or portion thereof) about which the student will give a presentation (10 to 15 minutes) and about which the student will be prepared to answer questions (15 to 20 minutes). The presentation, which may be read, must be given in the language of the MA specialization; the question-and-answer session may be in that language or in English. The emphasis of the presentation and follow-up questions will be on the student’s interpretation of the work itself, rather than on the author, other works, or literary movements. Once a work is selected and approved by the committee chair, the student provides the remaining committee members with a copy of it, with sufficient time (one-week minimum) to study it before the date of the student’s final oral examination. The work must not be one that was previously studied by the student in a course.

The A-E committee determines whether the student has completed the final oral examination satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily. The committee may allow, at its sole discretion, no more than one retake of the oral examination, in whole or in part (as parts 1 and 2 are defined above). Any retake, if allowed by the committee, must take place in the subsequent semester and no later.

Notice of Completion

The Master’s Degree—Notice of Completion form confirms that the student has successfully completed departmental and university requirements for the Master of Arts degree. This form, which may be downloaded at the graduate school website, must be signed by the student’s A-E committee, by the departmental graduate director, and by the dean of the graduate school.