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 three (3) faculty members who agree to serve on the examination committee, and the student is responsible for asking one of those 3 to serve as the head of the committee. In addition to the 3 English faculty members, 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.  Students will prepare supplemental reading lists, in addition to the established 50 work area lists, and rationales in consultation with committee members while beginning to study for the examination. More detailed information on reading lists and rationales is available in the Graduate Student Handbook.
  • Late spring of the Second 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.
  • Summer after the Second Year: During the summer of the second year, students read independently in preparation for exams. Students are encouraged to meet regularly with faculty to discuss their progress.
  • Fall of the Third Year: Students read independently in preparation for exams. Students are encouraged to meet regularly with faculty to discuss their progress.  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.
  • Late November of the Third Year:  Students take written qualifying exams and 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, 207 Decio Hall; please notify Alissa Doroh of the date of the oral component once it is set.  Oral exams must be completed before Thanksgiving break.
  • First Week of March: Students work with committees to submit prospectus to DGS Office by first Friday of March.
  • Late March/Early April of the Third Year: Graduate students orally defends prospectus to dissertation committee. Upon successful completion, students may elect to receive an M.A. degree from Notre Dame if they do not already have English MA from another institution.