Doctoral Qualifying Examinations

Doctoral Qualifying Examinations For Hagley Scholars

–The doctoral qualifying examinations for Hagley Scholars will consist of a written examination followed by an oral examination. Their purpose is to assess a student’s knowledge of four diverse and broadly defined reading fields to be framed by each student in conjunction with the faculty.

–Toward the end of the fourth semester of coursework (or at least six months prior to taking examinations), it will be the responsibility of each student to consult with his or her adviser and to ask four professors to direct the individual reading fields and to serve as an examining committee. At least three of those professors will be members of the History Department faculty, and the student’s adviser will serve as coordinator of the committee. If the adviser is not part of the examining committee, then a coordinator will be chosen by the consent of the committee. The student should then submit a completed Ph.D. Exam Planning Sheet (pdf) to the graduate administrative assistant, the Graduate Chair and the UD-Hagley Coordinator at least two months prior to the exam date.

The student will then consult with each faculty member of the examining committee to define his or her individual fields and to begin compiling reading lists. The length and organization of reading lists may vary, depending on the field and discussions between the student and the faculty member directing the field.

— Individual faculty members on the examination committee will help students prepare in each of the four fields. It is the responsibility of the examining committee as a whole to ensure that the student’s four fields are sufficiently broad, diverse, and distinct and to approve all four final reading lists. The entire examining committee will also approve all questions for the written examination.

Hagley Scholars in American history will follow the general format for the American history exam. Students who identify primarily as non-US historians may substitute exams on non-American nations or regions for the first two fields below, or may follow the format of the qualifying exam in European history. Students planning a transnational or comparative dissertation will make modifications as needed.

–The four fields will include:

1) A field in early American History (Pre-Columbian to mid-nineteenth century) divided into three broad and diverse themes. (Examples might include consumption and material life; political culture and political economy; religion; and slavery.)

2) A field in modern United States History (mid-nineteenth century to the present), also divided into three broad and diverse themes. (Examples might include the Civil War and Reconstruction; industrialization; reform movements; popular culture; African-American history.)

3) An outside field in non-American history, in non-American/American comparative history, or in a relevant discipline. That field may or may not bear upon the student’s dissertation interests, but it must not simply duplicate the fourth field. (Examples might include modern nationalisms; comparative slave systems; the Atlantic World in the early modern period; Africa from colonialism to independence; comparative industrialization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; literary theory; historical geography.)

4. A broad topical or chronological field in a particular area of interest bearing on a possible doctoral thesis. A student may also choose comparative or transnational themes in defining this field.

–Format for Doctoral Qualifying Examinations

Examinees will begin the examination process four weeks before Thanksgiving week on a date set by the Graduate Studies Committee. Students will select the order in which they wish to write their four examinations, and they will receive serially (on a weekly basis) the questions set by the members of their examining committee for each of their four fields.

Examinees will write two take-home essays in each of their four fields, choosing among three to five questions for each field. They will have five days to complete their essays in each of the four fields and to submit those essays to the examining committee in hard copy or by e-mail. Each essay will consist of no more than 3000 words.

Examinees may use books, professional journals, and other resources in writing their essays. Throughout the examination process, students may not discuss their essays with faculty or other students; examinees are responsible for doing their own work in accordance with the code of academic conduct set forth on the website (and as updated).

Members of the examining committee will read the student’s essays in all four fields. The entire committee will then make a preliminary evaluation of the written examination as a whole. Except when a student is judged clearly to have failed the written examination, he or she will proceed, within two weeks, to the oral examination.

Oral examinations of about two hours in length and administered by the examining committee will take place in the first half of December at a date set by the Graduate Studies Committee. Those examinations may include questions about the essays submitted for the written examination, the themes designated by the student’s reading lists, and his or her plans for the dissertation.

Upon a student’s completion of both the written and oral examinations, the entire committee will evaluate each student’s performance as passing or failing the doctoral qualifying examination.

Those students who fail the examination will have one opportunity to repeat the examination process during the spring semester of their third year.

Passing the doctoral qualifying examination will constitute the final step before a student submits his or her portfolio to the Graduate Studies Committee for advancement to candidacy.