Women & Gender Studies Institute

Comprehensives

Students will complete one major and one minor comprehensive examination, each in a field of scholarship. Fields are defined in consultation with the advisor and at least two other faculty members.  Students may define the fields of these exams so as to display competence in the ways that a range of disciplines address a given topic; they may also use these fields display an in-depth mastery of a single conventional discipline or methodology (e.g. English or Anthropology). The major examination will be based on a comprehensive list of 80 sources/units) – a book or approximately four articles are equivalent to one unit, with the relative balance between books and articles, or the weight of a given article, ultimately lying at the supervisor’s discretion. The field ideally will help situate a student’s dissertation project within the relevant literature. The minor exam will be based on a comprehensive list of 40 sources/units – a book or approximately four articles are equivalent to one unit, with the relative balance between books and articles, or the weight of a given article, ultimately lying at the supervisor’s discretion.

Lists for the two exams will be developed in consultation with the advisor and at least two other faculty members (there may be a maximum of four committee members for the comprehensive examinations). The sources may be books or articles, primary or secondary sources. Other works (e.g. films) may be useful and appropriate within a given list.

The major comprehensive examination may be satisfied in one of the following ways: (a) submission of a research paper for publication, followed by an oral exam; or (c) a take-home written exam followed by an oral exam. Satisfactory completion of the major field comprehensive requirement will be assessed by at least two members of the Supervisory Committee with the relevant area of expertise, one of whom will be the advisor. The minor comprehensive examination may be satisfied in one of the following ways: (b) submission of a research paper for publication; (c) a take-home written exam. Satisfactory completion of the minor field will be assessed by one or more faculty members.

Length of Major examination: 10,000 words maximum (not including bibliography) to be split between one or two questions depending upon composition of major field

Length of Minor examination: 6,000 words maximum (not including bibliography)

Examinations are marked on a pass/fail basis.

A pass requires a minimum of two out of three committee members voting to pass (or three out of four, for committees of four).  A committee may choose to pass both fields, one, or neither.  If both exams, or one, is failed, the student then gets a second attempt on the failed portions of the exam.

Candidates are allowed two attempts to pass a comprehensive examination. A failure to pass on the second attempt results either in the student’s voluntary withdrawal from the program, or a recommendation by the Institute for termination of the student’s registration in the program.

Comprehensives should be completed by February 1st of the second year of Ph.D. studies, for students admitted with an M.A. degree. They should be completed by November 1st of the third year of Ph.D. studies, for direct-entry students.

All requirements except the dissertation must be completed by the end of Year 3 for students admitted with a Master’s degree, and by the end of Year 4 for direct entry students in order to remain in Good Standing.