Qualifying Exam Dates and Procedures

  • Late spring of the Second Year: By the end of the spring semester of the second year, each student is responsible for selecting four (4) faculty members who agree to serve on the examination committee, and the student is responsible for asking one of those 4 to serve as the head of the committee. The committee can include one non-Notre Dame faculty member, with the approval of the DGS in consultation with the exam committee. Generally, the head of the committee and two members are faculty in the student’s primary field. The committee head will be responsible for soliciting questions from the other committee members and for making up the final version of the examination in consultation with the other committee members.
  • Summer after the Second Year: During the summer of the second year, the student will prepare reading lists and rationales in consultation with committee members while beginning to study for the examination. The primary field list should include approximately 75 titles, while the secondary lists should include around 50 titles each. More detailed information on reading lists and rationales is available in the Graduate Student Handbook.
  • Fall of the Third Year: Students typically enroll in one Directed Readings course per semester in the exam year. These are exam reading courses and do not require a final paper.
  • Early September of the Third Year: Students submit exam lists and rationales to the DGS Office for review by GSC. Rationales may be relatively brief, normally several paragraphs. They should be written so that a person in any area of English studies can understand the questions around which the exams cohere. The Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with committee heads, will ensure that there is relative parity among lists.
  • Fall and Winter of the Third Year: Students read independently in preparation for exams. Students are encouraged to meet regularly with faculty to discuss their progress.
  • Early March of the Third Year: The exam chair works with the committee to develop the written exams, taking into account the best approach for evaluating command of materials and methods. The exam chair is responsible for collecting questions from the committee and producing a single coherent document which is then submitted to the DGS office.
  • Early March of the Third Year: Students work with committees to schedule the oral follow-on portion of the qualifying exams; usually between 7-14 days following the written exams. These are traditionally held in the conference room, 356 O’Shag; please notify Kim Gaughan of the date of the oral component once it is set.
  • Late March of the Third Year: DGS Office administers written examinations and returns student answers to each committee member electronically.
  • Early April of the Third Year: Oral component of the Qualifying Exam administered. Upon successful completion, students may elect to receive an M.A. degree from Notre Dame.