Field Comprehensive Examinations

The field exams are usually scheduled to take place by May 15, though they can be delayed in exceptional circumstances. They are organized by the student’s supervisory committee. In consultation with the student, the committee will decide on an individualized bibliography, a format (sit-down exam, essay, take-home exam, timing, etc.), and a set of questions. To ensure consistency of length, procedure, and level of difficulty among field exams, bibliographies, formats, and examination questions must be approved by the director, in consultation with the Joint Committee. All members of the student’s supervisory committee read and assign preliminary percentage marks for each part of the field exam. These are averaged to arrive at the final mark for the exam. The student must attain an average grade of 77% for the whole exam in order to pass.

Students must enroll for the comprehensive examination during the term in which they begin the process. To be permitted to take the examinations later, a candidate must petition the director for an extension. As with the general comprehensive exam, only one such extension will be allowed, and then for one term.

  1. Bibliographies for field exams are typically at least 30 books
  2. Bibliographies are negotiated between the student and all members of the supervisory committee. The final decision remains with the committee.
  3. Exams are marked by all members of the supervisory committee.
  4. Doctoral students are invited, but not required, to submit a list of suggested questions to the supervisory committee. Supervisory committees are free to use, not use, or modify questions proposed by doctoral candidates.
  5. Exams are due from dissertation supervisors to the director one month ahead of the date on which the student takes the