The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination
To qualify to take the preliminary examination (Comps), a student
must finish all course work, including the completion of all incompletes.
Both language examinations must be passed before taking the oral
comprehensive exams, but preferably as early as possible in coursework.
After completion of course work, students begin preparation for
the Ph.D. preliminary exams. Passing these exams will admit students
to ABD (all but dissertation) status. Formal exam preparation
should begin immediately upon completion of course work.
Students will produce four written statements, divided into the
general topics outlined below, and defined by students in consultation
with faculty members to examine areas of academic specialization
and professional preparation. Exam statements 1, 2, and 3 will
consist of intellectual asessment through critical bibliographic
essay and argument; statement 4 is a practical extension. Upon
completion of these written field statements, and upon faculty
approval, the student will schedule a date for the oral exam;
this exam will provide the student an opportunity to deepen and
expand the written statements in conversation with the faculty.
(see below, Oral Exam).
The Four Areas of Examination
1) A geographic area statement: demonstrating the student's
competence in the history and present state of folklore research
(and related fields) of the student's intended area of specialization.
Also possible is a focus on diasporas, especially since transcultural
migrations are increasingly becoming a norm rather than an exception,
and since folklorists have had an interest in these kinds of relocations.
The paper will be tailored to suit the examinee's interests in
conjunction with a faculty advisor, but there will be an emphasis
on maintaining sufficient breadth.
2) A topical statement: demonstrating competence in the
kinds of topical domains addressed in departmental course offerings,
e.g. "prose narrative," "art," "gender," public display"; great
flexibility and possibilities for combinations are foreseen here,
e.g. 'ethnicity and music/song,' or 'gender and verbal art.' Broad
intellectual coverage is expected with an effort to account for
interdisciplinary as well as international scholarship.
3) A theory and practical statement: demonstrating expertise
in the discipline's history, theoretical frameworks and problems.
In conjunction with the faculty advisor, the examinee selects
a meaningful segment from this domain. Examples might be "Enlightenment
and the emergence of folklore," "postcolonial situations and the
practice of folklore," ethnicity and race in folklore theory,"
"the legacy of literary approaches to folklore," etc.
4) A professional "script" in a domain of student's choice:
demonstrating a student's ability to think through and plan an
application of her/his knowledge, e.g.:
- a course syllabus (including a commentary/rationalization
of each aspect, reading selections, assignments, teaching format/pedagogy)
- a museum exhibit plan/script (including commentary on artifact/visual
selections, lay out, explanatory tablets/texts, and goals for
- public program, e.g. a grant proposal for doing an 'ethnic
apprenticeship program' within a state arts council (goals,
specifics, logistics or organization using the actual format
of a granting agency).
Administration of Exam
Students will be held to a strict schedule. A faculty advisor
will ensure that the student adheres to the parameters of the
Coordination and Guidance: Students will consult with
their faculty advisor concerning the design of their exam, and
which faculty or graduate group members should be approached to
serve as readers. The advisor may be the faculty member initially
assigned to the student upon entering the program, or another
professor chosen by the student. It is advantageous to firm up
a good working relationship with the faculty advisor by the end
of the second year of course work.
Faculty outside the graduate group or outside the university
should only be included as readers if they hold expertise crucial
to the examinees proposed exam papers. The student then hammers
out the nature of his or her qualifying statements with the chosen
students must have at least three members of the standing faculty
serving as either first or second readers of their exams. While
faculty advisors may also serve as readers, at least three different
individuals will serve on the students exam committee. After an
initial year of study emphasizing breadth in coursework, subsequent
course selections, research papers, internships, etc. should be
increasingly geared toward competency in those areas in which
the student hopes to be examined. The faculty advisor will present
the students exam proposal to the faculty and the graduate chair
Once topics have been designed and readers chosen, students will
sign an exam contract that will hold them accountable to finishing
their exams within 6 months of completing their coursework. See
the contract-draft that follows.
Time-Frame and Schedule
Students are expected to decide on exam statement topics during
the last semester of coursework and to solidify contact with the
faculty with whom they will work. Setting up meetings with potential
readers is the examinees own responsibility, but faculty advisors
will assist in suggesting potential readers and if necessary in
initiating contact. Students finishing coursework in the spring
term will adhere to Cycle 1; students finishing in the fall term
will adhere to Cycle 2.
Time-line for Cycle 1
Students are urged to consult with their faculty readers at the
end of the spring term and during the exam period of the spring
semester, or to set up effective long-distance communication with
faculty doing research over the summer.
June 1: Exam cycle begins; examinees finalize scope and
titles of their four exam papers.
June 15: Contract with faculty reader signatures must be
filed with graduate chair, one copy with Graduate Studies Advisor.
through August 31: Completing the bibliographic scope and
outline of each paper in consultation with readers and faculty
September 15: Hand in outlines and bibliographies to faculty
*Last week of September: Faculty advisors present examinees'
portfolios to full faculty meeting for approval.
December 1: All papers due; staggered deadlines for papers
agreed on with the faculty advisor may prove most effective in
getting the task done.
January: Oral exams.
Time-line for Cycle 2
Students are urged to consult with their faculty readers throughout
the fall term and during the exam period of the fall semester.
January 15: Exam cycle begins; examinees finalize scope
and titles of their four exam papers.
January 30: Contract with faculty reader signatures must
be filed with graduate chair, one copy with Graduate Studies Advisor.
March 31: Completing the bibliographic scope and outline
of each paper in consultation with readers and faculty advisor.
April 15: Hand in outlines and bibliographies to faculty
*Last week of spring term classes: Faculty advisors present
examinees' portfolios to full faculty meeting for approval.
July 15: All papers due; staggered deadlines for papers
agreed on with the faculty advisor may prove most effective in
getting the task done. Students are responsible for making arrangements
with faculty readers who are gone for the summer.
September: Oral exams
The Oral Exam
The oral exam will be scheduled once the written portions have
been approved. A two-hour period will be set aside. The oral exam
is semi-public in nature. The primary readers of the student's
written exams must be present, but all faculty, including graduate
group members wishing attend may be present. If the examinee has
no objections, student colleagues may sit in, observe, and give
moral support. Observing oral exams is considered good practice
and students are encouraged to attend. The oral exam is essentially
an elaboration of the student's written exams.
Successful completion of the written and oral components will
advance the student to Ph.D. candidacy.
Under normal circumstances, the student will consult closely
with his or her committee in preparing bibliographies, draft and
final copy of the four required exam papers. If one or more final
versions are deemed unsatisfactory by the student's committee,
the student will have a one-time chance for revision, to be submitted
within six weeks of notification.
Some students elect to combine the Ph.D. oral exams with the
defense of the dissertation proposal: this is often a useful decision,
not least because all committee members are then likely in one
room already (see Proposal below).
If the oral examination is deemed unsatisfactory, the student
has one chance to be reevaluated on the basis of a written exercise,
designed and approved by the committee as a whole, and completed
within one month after the oral exam. If the student fails
to comply, he or she will be dropped from the Ph.D. program.
Failure to adhere to the contract (regarding dates and topics)
will be taken very seriously. Any change of dates need to be negotiated
with all committee members, and only the most serious and documented
circumstances will be considered sufficient cause for such changes.
A renegotiation of dates will automatically result in close monitoring
of the student's progress. Three months after the renegotiation
of dates the student's full committee will vote on whether the
examinee is making effective and timely progress toward the degree.
A negative vote results in the termination of the student from
1. Geographical area
2. Topical area
3. Theory and Practice Area
4. Professional Script
Outline drafts with bibliographic scope:
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