The Master's Exam in English

The Master's Exam in English

Nature: A two-part exam.


Part One: Revised Course Paper.


Nature: Submission of a revised research paper written for one of the student’s graduate courses, with full documentation included. Successful completion of a Master of Arts Thesis may substitute for this part of the M.A. exam.

Length: 12-30 pages.

Process: The student selects a promising paper, andrequests the instructor for whom that paper was written to oversee revisions. If the instructor consents, in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator the student and the instructor set up a series of meetings to revise the paper to the standards of publishable work. When the instructor agrees that the paper meets the standards, the Graduate Coordinator will distribute the revised paper to two members of the Graduate Advisory Committee. When necessary, another member of the graduate faculty may serve as a reader. Essays will be due around October 15 for the fall semester, March 15 for the spring semester.

Grading: Pass/Fail, by two members of the GAC and the course instructor. Students whose papers are judged by the readers to require major revisions mustrevise and resubmit the paper in the following semester. Students whose papers are judged by the reader to require minor revisions may revise and resubmit the paper in the same semester before a deadline determined by the Graduate Coordinator. In the case of a serious disagreement among the two readers, another reader will be called in.


Part Two: Essay exam


Nature: Writing anin-classessay in response to a question based on the exemplary text and secondary bibliography.

Length:Three hours

Process:Every two years in February, theGraduate Advisory Committee will choose an exemplary text in three areas: Literary Studies, Language & Literacy, and ProfessionalWriting. The GACwill then draw up a secondary bibliography of 8-10 works on each. These texts will become effective for the subsequent fall exam through the spring semester of the following academic year. Students will take the exam on the Monday of the lastweek of classes for the fall or spring semesters. The GAC will both compose and grade Part Two of the exam. Students in the Professional Writing and Language & Literacy concentrations must take their test on the reading list for their areas; students in the Creative Writing concentration and all students not enrolled in any concentration must take their test using the Literary Studies reading list.

Grading: Pass/Fail, by the Graduate Advisory Committee. Each exam will be read by two readers, who will grade the exam on a Pass/Fail basis. If the readers disagree, a third reader will determine the outcome. If the committee deems necessary, it will consult with relevant graduate faculty about the appropriateness of questions and the adequacy of answers. If a student fails part two of the exam the studentwill have one opportunity to retake that part in a subsequent exam period. Students who fail this exam twice will not be permitted to retake the exam.

*For a complete policy on the exam, see Graduate Coordinator.