Candidates for the M.A. degree in Historical Studies must pass written and oral comprehensive examinations based on class work and reading lists provided by three examiners. Students are to have two examiners in their major track and one from outside of it.
- The comprehensive examinations are typically taken in the student's final semester.
- The written portion of the comprehensive examination lasts four-and-a-half hours and is taken using a MacBook laptop.
- The oral portion of the comprehensive examination is typically less than two hours. Appropriate attire for this more formal examination is recommended, but not required.
Comprehensive exams are commonly taken in November in the fall term and March in the spring term.
- Candidates should notify the Department Chair in writing (email is acceptable) of their intention to take comprehensive exams four to five months before they intend to take them, and they must do so no later than the scheduling date published in the University's Academic Calendar.
- Students also need to identify their examining committee and ask one of the members (within their major track) to serve as Director at least four months before they plan to be examined.
Given those times, students would do well to establish their committees before leaving for the summer break if they wish to take their exams in November or by early October if they wish to take their exams in March. Exams can only be offered at other times in the fall or spring under extraordinary circumstances. Similarly, exams will not be scheduled for the summer except under extraordinary circumstances and only after fully accommodating the schedules of faculty members.
In consultation with the faculty concerned, and the Department Chair if need be, the dates and times of the exams will be established. The exact days and times must be scheduled at least one month in advance, with the exams occurring before the date published in the Schedule of Classes as "the last date for prospective graduates to submit approved thesis and take comprehensive examinations."
- The student and entire committee should decide on a date and time for the written comprehensive examination.
- Note that the oral comprehensive examination is typically scheduled approximately one week or less after the date of the written comprehensive examination.
The Department's administrative assistant will undertake the final scheduling for comprehensive exams. After their committees decide on possible dates, students have to submit them to the administrative assistant, for she will be proctoring the written exams and ensuring that no more than two oral examinations will be scheduled in one day. Students should reconfirm their examination dates and times, including when they plan to arrive for their written examinations, with both the administrative assistant and their committees one week before the written exam is scheduled.
No student will be allowed to schedule comprehensive exams if there is an active "I" grade on her or his record.
Students must not assume that comprehensives are merely a formal requirement. If a candidate fails the examination, he or she may be permitted a second attempt at the discretion of the Department. Only under exceptional circumstances will a candidate be permitted more than two attempts.