Upon completion of twenty-four credit hours, the candidate is eligible to complete the comprehensive examination while completing the remainder of his or her coursework. Students need to consult the Director of Graduate Studies to check eligibility and preparation for this requirement, and they must enroll in the appropriate course (698A/698B) by the beginning of their last semester of study.

There are two different ways to complete this final requirement: 

 A) MA Essay

In this option, the student will select an essay written for one of the seminars taken before their last semester. During the last semester, and in close consultation with a designated faculty member, the student will revise, develop and expand the essay to meet publishable standards. As part of the process, the student will write a proposal before starting the writing process; after completing the essay, the student will do an oral defense in front of a committee. The student choosing this option is expected to devote a substantial amount of time to research and writing for the final project. The MA essay is not a thesis and is not to be deposited with the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies.

Detailed guidelines for the MA essay can be found here.


 B) M.A. Comprehensive examination 

The M.A. Comprehensive Examination will be comprised of three exams, one per area of specialization. Graduate Teaching Fellows will complete an additional exam with questions on Second Language Teaching. 

Reading Lists

In consultation with a faculty member representing one of the three areas the student selected, and no later than the first week of the semester prior to taking the exams, each student should compile a reading list for the comprehensive examination. This list should be a combination of canonical works in each area and primary and secondary readings selected by the student in consultation with the faculty member. The reading list should present a balance of primary sources as well as selected secondary sources. In addition to the three areas, the student will also select readings for the questions on second language teaching. The final reading list will comprise a total of 25 sources, the majority of which should be primary, for each of the three areas as well as 5 additional readings in the area of Second Language Teaching.



Day 1

9:00 – 12:00 Area 1
2:00 – 5:00 Area 2

Day 2

9:00 – 12:00 Area 3
2:00 – 3:30 Second Language Teaching (only for Teaching Fellows)

*Students will answer two out of three questions in each exam.