Skip to Content

Examinations

Examinations

The Master of Arts examination is comprised of two four-hour exams, taken in the seventh week of the spring term in the second year.

For students doing the M.A. in French, Italian, or Spanish, the first exam consists of one specific question in each of the four periods. The second exam consists of a detailed analysis of a short text in two parts: a close reading of the text and a consideration of the text in its social, historical, cultural and/or literary contexts. The student, in consultation with the examination committee, will choose in which of the four periods this second exam will be done.

The exams for the Romance Languages M.A. are similar to those for French, Italian and Spanish; however, in the first exam students will be asked to draw on examples from both their major and their minor literatures in their answer to at least one of the questions. They are encouraged (but not required) to refer to both literatures in their answers to the other three short questions.

The graduate secretary will inform the students and the examination committee members of the scheduled exam date.

Examination Committee:

By the sixth week of the fall term of the second year, students submit to their advisors and to the Director of Graduate Studies (with a copy to the graduate secretary):

  • the completed M.A. Exam Committee form with the signature of the committee chair and the names of faculty members suggested to cover the other exam periods.

By the tenth week of the fall term of the second year, students submit to their exam committee members and to the Director of Graduate Studies:

  • a preliminary examination reading list of literary works on which to be examined.

Examination Reading List:

Using the Departmental Reading List and the syllabi and bibliographies of the seminars they have taken, as well as the summer readings done in preparation for the Fall Forum, students construct an Examination Reading List.

For students doing the M.A. in French, Italian or Spanish, the Examination Reading List will consist of at least 10 items in each of the four periods. This list should be drawn up in consultation with the exam committee. Of the 10 works in each period, at least 5 must be chosen from the Departmental Reading List. The other works can be suggested by the student, based on his/her own interests and readings.

For students doing the M.A. in Romance Languages, the Examination Reading List will consist of at least 12 items in each of the four periods: 8 in the major language and 4 in the minor language. Of the 8 works in the major language, at least 4 must be chosen from the Departmental Reading List. All 4 texts in the minor language must be chosen from the Departmental Reading List.

The Examination Reading List for all M.A. students will also contain 2 additional secondary readings (usually literary histories or general literary surveys) that cover the four periods. These supplemental readings will be drawn from the Departmental Reading List.

The final version of the Examination Reading List must be approved and signed by the student’s exam committee and filed with the graduate secretary by the end of winter term of the second year. Students are responsible for distributing the approved reading list to the M.A. committee members as soon as the list is approved.

Examination questions:

In all fields, one of the two exams must be answered in the candidate’s major language, the other one can be written in the major language or in English. Choice of language is to be determined in consultation with the committee chair.

The four members of the M.A. Exam Committee will work together to prepare the questions for the candidate.  The exam committee chair is responsible for collecting questions from the exam committee members and submitting them to the graduate secretary.  On the first exam the candidate will answer four questions, choosing between two questions in each of four periods.  On the second exam, the candidate will choose between two possible selections for the close reading analysis.   All four members read and grade both exams and come to an agreement on the final grade to be submitted for each exam.  The committee chair moderates this discussion, submits the grades to the graduate secretary, and communicates the results to the candidate.  The student passes when the average grade for each exam is satisfactory (“Low Pass,” “Pass” or “High Pass”).

The M.A. Exam is a closed book examination and therefore without footnotes or a bibliography. The exam must be typed using a 12-point font and should be double-spaced.

Students who fail the Master of Arts examination in whole or in part will be allowed to take it over (in whole or in part) once. They are encouraged to do so during the course of the following term (usually the summer) and no later than 6 months after failing. If they fail again, they are disqualified.



Skip to toolbar