MA Exam Format

New MA exam format (as of Fall 2013)


Exam committee for 2018-2019:



The reading list was revised during the 2012-2013 academic year. On the first week of each new semester, the comprehensive exam committee will choose roughly 50 selections from the reading list, and the list will be posted on the website the first full week of classes. The exam now consists of four (4) total essay questions. Students will be allowed two (2) hours for each of the three historical period essays and three (3) hours for the comprehensive, synthetic essay. On the first day students will take three 2 hour exams (students should set aside 30 minutes for outlining and revisions), and on the second day they will take one 3 hour exam (students should set aside 45 minutes for outlining and revisions).

The committee will use only the works on the shortened list in their formulation of the period essays. The comprehensive essay shall be thematic in nature.
With regard to the comprehensive essay:


  • Students are not limited to the shortened list with this essay but rather are encouraged to bring in works from the entire reading list in their responses.
  • Students must use at least six (6) texts in their response.
  • Students must use at least two (2) British works and at least two (2) American works in their response.
  • Students must use at least two (2) texts before 1800 and two (2) texts after 1800.

Students will have access to both the Master reading list and the shortened reading list during both days of exams and must demonstrate B- or better work in order to pass the essay questions.

Students must pass at least 3 of the 4 essays on the 2nd attempt. They may appeal for a 3rd attempt. In order to appeal for a 3rd attempt, the student must secure a faculty member willing to mentor them and must enroll in 3 hours of independent study hours during this mentoring period.

Students who enrolled when the old exam format was in place may petition the committee to take the ID section rather than the comprehensive essay.


MA Comp List Fall 14