Qualifying Exam

By the end of the second semester you should begin the process of identifying a director for the qualifying exam. The director should be able to guide you in a comparative approach to the literatures you intend to work with for your dissertation. Your director must be on the CMLT faculty. If you would like a director who is not currently on the CMLT faculty, please contact the graduate director. We can discuss options for a co-director situation.

The guidelines for the qualifying examination in Comparative Literature require students to prepare two lists totaling 120‐150 works and an examination committee of at least 4 faculty members, including the director(s). The general list (covering works in all languages the student will be working in) is oriented toward primary sources of a field of literature and/or critical theory. The focused/special topic list (also covering works in all languages the student will be working in) is for secondary/critical sources on a subject linked to the proposed dissertation topic. In consultation of the examination committee, a scope for both lists will be established prior to establishing the list.

Once the list is drawn up, the student must have their committee sign the CMLT Qualifying Exam Form and submit it, along with your reading list, to the Graduate Office when you come in to schedule your exam, at least one month prior to taking the exam. 



The student is given two questions one week before the examination. These questions, written by the co‐directors or the director and committee members in consultation with one another, will allow you to answer comparatively between the multiple literary traditions and theory covered on your reading lists. These questions will be forwarded to you one week before the exam by the Graduate Coordinator. The student will prepare a twenty-minute presentation on one of them. A question and answer period on the presentation completes the first hour to ninety minutes of the exam. The examiners should be satisfied that you have answered questions satisfactorily in their area[s] of expertise. The second hour of the exam is devoted to a more general consideration of the material on the lists, with opportunities for comparisons between the linguistic traditions and theories.