Preliminary exams consist of two written exams and one brief oral exam. Written exams are offered twice each year — in August, before the start of the Fall semester, and in January, before the start of the Spring semester. The oral exam takes place after a student has passed both written exams, at any time that the student and his/her advisor agree upon.
Prelim time limit:
- Students who are granted a primary Master’s waiver are expected to pass both written prelim exams by the end of the summer after their 6th semester in the program.
- Students who are granted a secondary Master’s waiver and students who earn a Master’s degree on the way to entering the doctoral program are expected to pass both written prelim exams by the end of the summer after their 8th semester in the program.
- Students who have not met the prelim requirement by these deadlines may request an extension by submitting a Ph.D. Extension Request Form. The request should be made as soon as the need for an extension becomes apparent.
Some exams take place on campus in the course of a day; they consist of a three-hour session in the morning and another three-hour session in the afternoon. (Students whose native language is not English and students with a documented learning disability may have additional time.) Others, however, are take-home exams written over a period of three days. (Students with care-giving responsibilities may have a fourth day.)
There are two options for completing the written preliminary exam requirement:
Option 1: Two written exams: Students must pass one exam in a Group I subfield and a second exam in a subfield from either Group I or Group II. (scroll down to see Group lists)
Option 2: One written exam in a Group I subfield and one paper-option exam in a Group II subfield. Students may, with permission from faculty in the subarea, write two papers (usually one paper demonstrating breadth—e.g., a literature review—and one demonstrating depth—e.g., an analysis of an issue) in lieu of a written exam in one of the Group II subfields.
Exam Groups I and II are listed below, followed by information about the Oral Exam.