Comprehensive Oral Examination
Effective July 1, 2013 the History Department adopted a new Comprehensive Oral Examination (Exam Plan). Students who began the program prior to July 1, 2013 may choose to follow either the old (pre July 1, 2013) Essay Plan or the new Exam Plan. Those beginning after July 1, 2013 may only follow the new Exam Plan.
(Exam Plan: July 1, 2013-present):
Department form, to be completed by the end of the second semester: Comprehensive Oral Examination/Exam Plan (pdf)
Subfield Reading Lists:
Africa (currently unavailable)
East Asia (currently unavailable)
Instructions, from the 2014-15 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.
(Essay Plan: pre-July 1, 2013):
Department form, to be completed by the end of the second semester Comprehensive Oral Examination/Essay Plan (pdf)
Instructions, from the 2012 Graduate Manual:
Students not writing a thesis will take a Comprehensive Oral Examination as the culmination of their work towards the M.A. This will be a one-hour oral examination conducted by the student's Graduate Advisory Committee. In the Comprehensive Oral Examination candidates for the M.A. will present themselves for examination in three of the following sub-fields of History:
Sub-Fields of History
U.S. to 1877
U.S. 1877 to present
Europe, 1815 to present
Middle East and India
Prior to taking the Comprehensive Oral Examination, a candidate for the M.A. will submit an essay on a topic within each of his or her sub-fields. Since a candidate has three sub-fields, the candidate will submit three essays.
It is recommended that at least six courses (18 units) be selected from the candidate's three sub-fields in order to prepare for the essays. It is expected that the essays will have been written specifically for the purpose of preparing for the Comprehensive Oral Examination. The faculty member for each field in which the student is to be examined will agree on the essay to be submitted to the candidate's examining committee. The graduate student's committee members will read each of the essays that the student submits. They will confer with one another as to whether each of the three essays is of sufficient quality to be accepted as fulfilling the requirement for graduation.
Each essay will normally be between 15 and 30 pages. Style and format of essays may vary according to the course and nature of the assignment which the paper was written to satisfy. Papers may vary in type to include historiographic essays, interpretations of historical works or original research.
The purpose of the essays is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to write and to deal with historical analysis in the sub-fields of History which the candidate has selected. A candidate will qualify for an M.A. in History if all three members of his or her Graduate Advisory Committee approve of the essays and the oral performance.
To enroll in the Oral Exam/Essay plan track, students must submit an Essay Plan Program Form (see checklist on back page), available from the Graduate Coordinator, at the time they formally organize their program advisory committees.