You are eligible to sit for the Candidacy Exam after completing 12–18 credits of coursework. Enrollment in coursework beyond the master’s degree alone does not automatically constitute admission to the PhD program or to candidacy.
The candidacy examination assesses your knowledge of major authors and movements in British and American literature that will determine your preparation for specialized and specific studies at the doctoral level.
The Candidacy Exam consists of four exams scheduled over two days. Each two-hour exam will focus on one of the following four periods:
Each exam is based, respectively, on one of four master lists.
Each of the master lists for Periods A–D contains approximately 35 to 75 authors; some authors are represented by more than one text. The lists have been developed by program faculty whose expertise fits within the given periods.
For Periods A–D, you will need to select 30 authors from each period. There is an option of substituting five authors (or texts, or combination of authors and texts) of your choice in each of the four periods, with prior approval from the program director.
For example, substituting Anne Brontë for Emily Brontë; or Bleak House for Great Expectations.
The selection of the 30 authors from each period should be done with considerable care. Some basic principles of balance and inclusion will be expected. For example, authors selected should:
You will have access to both print and electronic versions of the lists, and it is expected that you will bring to each exam a copy of the respective period list with the 30 selections checked off (approval for any substitutions must be received from
the program director prior to the exam).
In addition to the period lists, there is also a Theory List which is comprised of a representative sample list of potential authors, each listed under the appropriate theoretical area. This theory list is intended primarily as a suggested or representative
list. You are not obliged to refer only to those theorists listed, and you should use the list as an aid to prepare for the exam. The key theory requirement for the exam is to engage at least three different theories (or combinations of theories)
of your choice, and these should be distributed through at least three of the four exams (not several theories on one exam).
Each Candidacy Exam is graded by three graduate literature faculty members who assigns grades of (3) High Pass, (2) Pass, or (1) Fail. For each exam, you will receive the average of the three grades assigned. The results are reported as follows: