English Department

Handbook for Graduate Students in English

THE MASTER'S EXAMINATION

Candidates for the Master's degree in English must take and pass the Master's Examination, according to the following procedure:

  1. When the candidate has produced a tentative final draft of the project, after consultation with the first and second readers, the student is responsible for scheduling the candidate's Master's Examination for a date normally not later than 30 days before the end of the semester in which the student expects to graduate.
  2. At least two weeks before the examination the student must present a tentative final draft of the thesis to the three project readers, and then within one week the readers must prepare one or two questions to give to the student in advance. These questions should generally focus on theoretical issues deriving from the thesis itself or on some connection between coursework and the thesis.
  3. The examination begins with a brief presentation (10-15 minutes or so) by the candidate giving an account of what the project has accomplished and of its broader relevance, intrinsically, in relationship to work previously done in the field, and/or in relationship to further work to be undertaken. Candidates in creative writing will be expected to relate their work to that of traditional as well as contemporary practitioners in their genre.
  4. The committee then moves to questions previously submitted (step 2). Students may also choose to incorporate into the initial presentation some responses to the questions submitted by their readers.
  5. After further discussion of the thesis, the panel determines a grade on the oral examination (Fail, Pass, Honors, High Honors) and communicates it to the candidate, along with any requests for revision. The panel will usually inform the student at this time of the thesis grade as well.
  6. Candidates who fail the Master's Examination may ask to be examined again after at least 30 days have passed.

When the Master's Thesis and the Master's Examination are evaluated, particular attention is paid to how well the student has fulfilled the "Outcomes" listed under "Requirements for the M.A. Degree."