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Comprehensive Examination Guidelines

The examinations must be taken within a year of completing coursework. Prior to taking exams, students must have a supervisory committee, an approved plan of study on file with the School of Graduate Studies and have completed all required coursework. See Comprehensive Examination guidelines from the School of Graduate Studies for full details.

At least six months before taking comprehensive exams, the student will submit a tentative reading lists of primary and critical works for all examinations. The supervisory committee will then meet to review the proposed reading lists and address any oversights or imbalances.

PRIMARY DISCIPLINE ENGLISH

Before advancing to Ph.D. candidacy, students whose primary discipline is English will take a series of examinations: general examinations over two designated areas in English studies; the examination required by the co-discipline; and an oral interdisciplinary subject examination.

  1. The General Area Examination
    Areas for the general area examination will be designated at the time of the submission of the program of study. These may be changed only with the consent of the supervisory committee. The examination is designed to test the breadth of the candidate's knowledge in two areas of English studies whether periods of literary history (e.g., British 19th century, American literature from 1865, British and American literature since 1945) or other areas of expertise (e.g., linguistics, history of the language, rhetoric, genre studies, literacy studies). For students whose primary discipline is English, the examining committee for the general area examination must include at least three members of the graduate faculty in English. The reading lists, which are subject to the approval of the examining committee, should reflect interdisciplinarity. The general area examination consists of two parts, each receiving equal weight. The format of these examinations, designed in consultation with the student to reflect a sustained preparation (typically three to six months), will include a written component (e.g., a three-four hour sitting or a 72-hour “take-home” period for each area).

  2. Co-Disciplinary Examinations
    Students whose primary discipline is English will fulfill examination requirements of their co-discipline.

  3. The Oral Interdisciplinary Subject Examination
    The oral interdisciplinary subject examination will examine the student’s command of methodology and current scholarship as well as primary sources and standard scholarly works in the field and assess the student’s ability to integrate content, theory, and/or methods in the discipline of English and the student’s co-discipline(s). At least two weeks before the oral interdisciplinary subject examination, the student will submit a dissertation prospectus detailing chapters, methodology, and bibliography subject to the approval of the supervisory committee. The exam is typically administered in a single two-hour sitting.

For students whose co-discipline is English, an examination covering one of the areas described above in “The General Area Examination” will be designed in consultation with the coordinating discipline.

Frequently Asked Questions

I.Ph.D. FAQ

Comprehensive Exam Guidelines


Resources

Application materials

Example of narrative statement with English as coordinating discipline (PDF)

Example of narrative statement with English as co-discipline (PDF)

Co-disciplines


Helpful Resources

Grad Resource

Gradschools.com

Getting into Grad School

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab


Contact Info

I.Ph.D program Administrative Assistant

Quincy Bennett

816-235-1559

Email


English I.Ph.D. Coordinator

Dr. Anthony Shiu

816-235-5205

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Discipline Coordinator

Joan Dean

816-235-2555

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