History Department

Comprehensive Oral Examination

Exam Plan

The Comprehensive Oral Examination (Exam Plan) Department form (PDF) must be completed by the end of the second semester.

Instructions from the 2017-2018 Graduate Manual

Students not writing a thesis will take a Comprehensive Examination as the culmination of their work towards the M.A.  This will consist of three, three-hour written examinations, handwritten or typed on an internet-disabled computer (provided), completed within a two-week period, followed by a one-hour oral examination with the Graduate Advisory Committee. In the Comprehensive Examination candidates for the M.A. will present themselves for examination in three of the following sub-fields of History: Ancient; Medieval and Early Modern; Modern Europe; Africa; East Asia; Latin America; Middle East; U.S. to 1877; U.S. 1877 to present; or another sub-field approved by the Department Graduate Committee. 

On the History Department M.A. Program website, students will find lists of thirty books/articles for each subfield. Students, in consultation with their committee chair, can choose the two-week examination period.   For each subfield, students will be given a written examination synthesizing the arguments and evidence from at least fifteen of the thirty books/articles on the subfield list. Students can expect to read some of the books/articles for each sub-field in the readings seminars (HIST 610-680) but will be responsible for reading the remaining books/articles.  During mandatory advising in the third semester in the program, students must enroll in the Comprehensive Examination track by submitting a Comprehensive Examination Plan Form (see appendix).  The form requires that students identify (in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator) one faculty member from each of the sub-fields to serve on their Graduate Advisory Committee.  Students preparing for the examinations may consider asking one member of their committee to supervise an Independent Study (HIST 697) on one relevant sub-field.

At the end of the written examination period, the Graduate Advisory Committee members will read each of the exams prior to the oral examination.  After the oral examination, the committee will confer with one another as to whether each of the three exams is of sufficient quality to be accepted as fulfilling the requirement for graduation. A candidate who fails one or more of the exams can re-take the exam(s) only one additional time. The entire committee will grade the second attempt(s). A candidate will qualify for an M.A. in History if all three members of the Graduate Advisory Committee agree that the candidate has demonstrated competency in the sub-fields of History which the candidate has selected.