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MA Comprehensive Examinations

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Overview
Checklist for Taking Comprehensive Examinations and Graduating
For May Graduation:

14 February: Deadline for submitting the Application for Advanced Degree Form to the Graduate Office. This form should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in each semester comprehensive exam(s) is/are to be taken.

27 February: Deadline for submission of personalized reading list, as specified by degree program and language, to all of the tenured and tenure-track members of the appropriate language faculty. 

For December Graduation:

14 September:  Deadline for submitting the Application for Advanced Degree Form to the Graduate Office. This form should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in each semester comprehensive exam(s) is/are to be taken.

28 September:  Deadline for submission of personalized reading list, as specified by degree program and language, to all of the tenured and tenure-track members of the appropriate language faculty. 

Administration

Comprehensive examinations may be taken no earlier than the semester during which the relevant required coursework will be completed. (For regular full-time students this will normally be no earlier than the third semester for pedagogy exams and the fourth semester for literature exams.)

Administration of literature comprehensive examinations (including scheduling, construction, proctoring, and grading) will be the responsibility of the language faculty representative to the Graduate Studies Committee and the tenured and tenure-track faculty of the language/literature major.

The pedagogy portion of the MA-FLP comprehensive examinations will be constructed, proctored, and graded by the foreign language pedagogy faculty. Scheduling will be coordinated with the language faculty representative.

The comprehensive examinations are offered once during the fall semester and once during the spring semester. All literature exams will be administered as follows: Fall: mid-November to mid-December; Spring: mid-April to mid-May. For Pedagogy exams, see II.B3.

Normally all students majoring in a particular language/literature will take the written comprehensive examination on the same day. The tests, however, can be tailored to the individual student. The oral examination may be administered on the same day as the written examination, or at a later date.

Students who fail all or part of the MA comprehensive exams may retake the exam (or part thereof) only once.

In unusual circumstances, a one-semester extension may be granted upon written appeal to the Graduate Studies Committee. Those students who elect to delay completion of requirements for the MA degree must 1) request permission by writing a letter to the Director of Graduate Studies explaining their reasons for requesting an extension; and, 2) pay a sustaining fee each semester until they graduate. University regulations require that all work must be completed within five years of initial enrollment in the program.

Reporting the Results of the MA Comprehensive Exams
Within one week of the administration of both the written and oral parts of the comprehensive examinations (pedagogy and literature), the respective representative(s) to the Graduate Studies Committee will report the results of the exam to the candidates and to the Director of Graduate Studies. However, in cases where the written exam is a clear failure that cannot be redeemed by a strong oral exam, students will be notified of this and will not take the oral exam.
French Exams - Detailed Information

The examination for the Master's degree in Language, Literatures, and Cultures is offered in November/December and in April/May of each academic year. It emphasizes not only the content (plot, setting, characters, etc.) of each work but also its implicit values and its aesthetic and philosophical underpinnings. An understanding of the contribution of each work to its own period is essential. Students should have a grasp both of the major French literary movements and of the cultural and historical context in which they arose. Both the written and oral portions of the exam are conducted entirely in French.

The Written Examination

All MA-LLC students will choose five of the seven periods/areas to prepare for the exam. The written examination will focus on the Reading Lists for the five periods/areas chosen. It will consist of:

  • Brief identification of five terms, e.g. "mal du siècle," "les bienséances," etc., one for each period/area (60-75 minutes)
  • Longer, focused essay in the period/area of the student's choice (60-75 minutes)
  • Explication de texte chosen from a period other than the one the student has chosen for the focused essay. (60-90 minutes)

Four hours will be allotted for the examination; the time limit will be strictly observed.

MA-FLP students have a reduced reading list, and will select four of the seven periods/areas to prepare for the exam. The literature portion of the written examination is composed of four identifications (one from each period/area chosen) and an explication de texte. The time allowed for the exam is 2 hours and 40 minutes. (For a description of the FL Pedagogy exam, see section 4 below.)

In cases where the written exam is a clear failure that cannot be redeemed by a strong oral exam, students will be informed that they may not take the oral. Students who fail all or part of the MA comprehensive exams may retake the exam (or part thereof) only once (please see "Grading of Exam, Notification, and Retake options", below.)

After the written examination, students are invited to contact French Faculty members for general feedback during the time period that precedes the oral examination.

The Oral Examination

The oral exam will focus on the Reading Lists for the four (MA-FLP) or five (MA-LLC) periods/areas chosen, course work, and any questions arising from the written examination.

One hour will be allotted for this portion of the exam.

Please Note:

Because the reading lists allow a number of choices, students must inform the tenured and tenure-track faculty in French of their selections by 27 February (for May graduation) or by 28 September (for December graduation). Any requests for substitutions of works on the Reading Lists must be submitted prior to this time to the faculty member responsible for the relevant section of the reading list.

Grading of Exam, Notification, and Retake Options

The student will receive a grade of Pass or Fail for the entire examination. Shortly after the conclusion of the oral exam, candidates will be informed orally whether or not they have passed the exam. Within one week, candidates will be notified formally of the result. In order to recognize students who perform particularly well on both the written and oral portions of the exam, one of two special mentions, bien and très bien, may be awarded. Students who receive a failing grade for one or more parts of the written or oral exam may have the opportunity to retake the exam or a part thereof. Scheduling is at the discretion of the French Faculty but in all cases will adhere to UD Graduate Study regulations and time frames for the completion of the degree.

German Exams - Detailed Information

The purpose of the MA exam is to test your knowledge of German literature and literary history from 1750 to the present. The exam is based not only on your course work, but also on the literary works which comprise the MA reading list. The information below should help you prepare for this exam.

Exam dates

The exam will be given toward the end of each fall and spring semester, i.e., in late November/early December and in late April/early May.

Application procedure

A student wishing to take the exam must indicate this intention in writing to the Chair of the German Faculty by no later than October 1 or March 1. At this time, four copies of the MA candidate's reading list must also be submitted.

Length

The exam will last five hours and will have two distinct parts: a four-hour written exam and a one-hour oral exam. The oral exam will be given approximately one week after the written exam.

Language

Native speakers of English and German are expected to take the entire written exam in their native language. Approximately half of the oral exam will be conducted in English, the other half in German. All MA candidates must be prepared to answer questions in both languages.

Format

The written part of the exam will consist of four sections, as follows:

  • Brief identification of terms (30 minutes). Students choose 8 items from a list of 10, for example: "Alliteration," "bürgerliches Trauerspiel."
  • Essay questions (90 minutes). Students choose 2 questions from a list of 4, for example: "Discuss the portrayal of women in the bürgerliches Trauerspiel from Lessing to Hebbel."
  • Text analysis (45-60 minutes) .Students will be given the complete text of a poem, or a passage from a narrative, play, or essay, and asked to analyze it in depth.
  • Longer essay question on a literary epoch (45-60 minutes) A sample question would be: "Discuss the importance of the movement known as Young Germany (Junges Deutschland) within the larger context of nineteenth century German literature. Be sure to include in your discussion some of the major works, writers, and features of that movement."
The oral exam, which will last about one hour, will be conducted by at least three members of the graduate faculty in German and will test your in-depth knowledge of works on the reading list. All MA candidates will be expected to answer specific questions on individual texts and their role within a larger literary-historical context.

MA-FLP students have a reduced reading list. The written exams for students in this program lasts 2 hours and will consist of three sections, as follows:

  • Brief identification of terms. Students choose 6 items from a list of 8
  • Text analysis
  • Longer essay question on a literary epoch
(For a description of the FL Pedagogy exam, see section 4 below.)

Grading of Exam, Notification, and Retake Options

The student will receive a grade of Pass or Fail for the entire examination. Shortly after the conclusion of the oral exam, candidates will be informed orally whether or not they have passed the exam. Within one week, candidates will be notified formally of the result. In order to recognize students who perform particularly well on both the written and oral portions of the exam, the special mention of Honors may be awarded. Students who receive a failing grade for one or more parts of the written or oral exam may have the opportunity to retake the exam or a part thereof. Scheduling is at the discretion of the German Faculty but in all cases will adhere to UD Graduate Study regulations and time frames for the completion of the degree.

Spanish Exams - Detailed Information

​The examination for the MA degree in Languages, Literatures and Cultures is designed to test the student's mastery of the works of Hispanic literature on the M.A. Reading list. It emphasizes not only the content (plot, setting, characters, etc.) of each work but also its implicit values and its aesthetic and philosophical underpinnings. An understanding of the contribution of each work to its own period is expected. Students should have a grasp both of the major Spanish literary movements and of the cultural and historical context in which they arose. The exam is administered in November/December and in April/May of each academic year and has two parts: written and oral. Both the written and the oral portions of the exam are conducted entirely in Spanish.

The Written Examination

MA-LLC students will choose six of seven literary periods/areas to prepare for the exam. Students must have taken at least one course in the period/area not selected. The written examination will focus on the Reading Lists for the six periods/areas chosen. It will consist of:

  • Six short essays/ identifications, one for each period/area. (60-75 minutes)
  • Longer, focused essay in the period/area of the student's choice. (60-90 minutes)
  • Textual Analysis: an organized analytical description of a text selected from a period other than the one the student has chosen for the focused essay. (60-75 minutes)
Four hours will be allotted for the examination; the time limit will be strictly observed.MA-FLP students will have a reduced reading list and a reduced number of periods/areas to prepare for their Literature examination. Students must have taken at least one course in five different literary periods or areas, and they must select four of those periods/areas for their written examination. (For a description of the FL Pedagogy exam, see section 4 below.)  The written Literature test for MA-FLP students will have two parts as follows:  
  • Four short essays/ identifications, one for each period/area. (60-75 minutes)
  • Textual Analysis: an organized analytical description of a text selected by the examination committee from one of the four periods chosen by the student for the part (a). (60-75 minutes)
Three hours will be allotted for this examination; the time limit will be strictly observed.   In cases where the written exam is a clear failure that cannot be redeemed by a strong oral exam, students will be informed that they may not take the oral. Students who fail all or part of the MA comprehensive exams may retake the exam (or part thereof) only once (please see "Grading of Exam, Notification, and Retake options", below.)After the written examination, students may contact Spanish Faculty members for general feedback during the time period that precedes the oral examination.

The Oral Examination

The oral exam of MA-LLC students will focus on the Reading Lists for three out of six periods/areas chosen (randomly selected by the examination committee), course work, and any questions arising from the written examination. 30 minutes will be allotted for this portion of the exam.The oral exam of MA-FLP students will focus on the Reading Lists for two out of four periods/areas chosen (randomly selected by the examination committee), course work, and any questions arising from the written examination. 30 minutes will be allotted for this portion of the exam.

Grading of Exam, Notification, and Retake Options

The student will receive a grade of Pass or Fail for the entire examination. Shortly after the conclusion of the oral exam, candidates will be informed orally whether or not they have passed the exam. Within one week, candidates will be notified formally of the result. In order to recognize students who perform particularly well on both the written and oral portions of the exam, the special mention of Honors may be awarded. Students who receive a failing grade for one or more parts of the written or oral exam may have the opportunity to retake the exam or a part thereof the next time it is regularly scheduled.

Foreign Language Pedagogy Exams - Detailed information

The Foreign Language Pedagogy MA Comprehensive examination is based on a reading list and a list of study topics prepared by the members of the Foreign Language Pedagogy faculty, and is administered twice a year, in November and April. It has two parts: a written exam consisting of three concept identification questions (IDs) and a Case Study formulated by the Pedagogy Faculty; and an oral exam also designed to test the student's knowledge of the lists of reading and study topics.

The Written Examination

For the written exam, students are required to identify three of five concepts from the study topics list, and to discuss a case study according to the guidelines provided by the examiners. A successful candidate must demonstrate knowledge of current pedagogical principles and approaches to second language instruction, and have a clear understanding of their historical development. Two hours will be allotted for the examination; the time limit will be strictly observed. Students who fail the written exam will be informed that they may not take the oral. Students who fail all or part of the MA comprehensive exams may retake the exam (or part thereof) only once (please see "Grading of Exam and Retake options", below.) In border-line cases, a written assignment will be required by the faculty.

The Oral Examination

Normally the oral exam follows within one week after the written exam. The oral exam will focus on questions arising from the written examination.Thirty minutes will be allotted for this portion of the exam.

Grading of Exam, Notification, and Retake Options

The student will receive a grade of Pass or Fail for the entire examination. Shortly after the conclusion of the oral exam, candidates will be informed orally whether or not they have passed the exam. Within one week, candidates will be notified formally of the result. In order to recognize students who perform particularly well on both the written and oral portions of the exam, one of two special mentions, Honors and High Honors, may be awarded. Students who receive a failing grade for one or more parts of the written or oral exam may have the opportunity to retake the exam or a part thereof. In border-line cases, a written assignment will be required by the faculty. Scheduling is at the discretion of the Foreign Language Pedagogy Faculty but in all cases will adhere to UD Graduate Study regulations and time frames for the completion of the degree.

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MA Comprehensive Examinations
  • Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
  • Jastak-Burgess Hall
  • University of Delaware
  • 30 East Main St.
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-2591
  • dllc-academics@udel.edu