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The Examination Committee

At the end of the second semester of graduate study, students will decide on an examination committee and chair for a total of three faculty members. They will meet with the advisor for graduate studies and the chair of their committee at this time. If in the course of the second year students wish to amend their committee, they are free to do so.

The Reading List

The Master's Examination will be based on two documents: a general reading list composed by the student and a specialty reading list, also prepared by the student. Both documents are to be prepared in consultation with the examination committee and submitted to the committee as well as to the graduate program advisor. The general reading list will reflect the readings and topics covered during the student's studies in the MA program. It may also include relevant material from previous study, e.g., in a BA program. While being reasonable in the number of items, the list should reflect the depth and breadth of the field of German Studies from 1750 to the present as focused through the seminars and other work done in the MA program, including studies in pedagogy. Students should collect and maintain course syllabi and other relevant materials to aid in composing the list. In order to allow enough time for review and preparation, the student's examination committee must approve the general reading list at least three months before the exam date.

The Specialty

All students are required to choose a specialty by the beginning of their third semester of study. For their specialty, students will prepare their own list of primary and secondary works. This list should be completed by October 1 of their second year of study (or February 1 for those who entered the program in the spring semester). This list is to be compiled in consultation with all members of the student's examination committee. Its final form, which will serve as the basis for the exam, is due before the end of the third semester. Works read in the fourth semester may be added on an ad hoc basis.

Students will also produce a one-page abstract which provides a rationale for the choice of topic and explains the focus of the list. The abstract should underscore the reasons behind the choices of particular texts. This abstract should be written in consultation with the committee and a final version distributed to all committee members by the end of the semester before the student takes the exam. For summer exams, both the list and the abstract should be submitted to the committee by mid-March.

The Examinations

Students need to fill out and send to the Graduate School the Application for Degree form before the dates specified in the “Important Dates” section on the Graduate School’s homepage. Note that this date is set at approximately three months before the intended date of graduation. The current Graduate School calendar is available at Students need to make sure that they have no grades of "Incomplete" in class work, that they have paid all fines at the library or elsewhere, and that they have fulfilled all the other degree requirements.

The committee chair and student are responsible for arranging examination times; the student must submit the Final Master's Examination form to the graduate school at least two weeks in advance of a pending examination.

The M.A. examination consists of a written and oral component. The oral exam typically lasts two hours and is taken in the days after completing the written component. The written exam will have two parts:

  • An exam physically taken in the department. This portion is devoted to Identifications and a pedagogy section related to pedagogical or classroom applications of the theories of language learning (for students who have taught in the program and taken the pedagogy courses). The ID’s are a series of short answers, around half a page each, covering the core reading list. Students may be asked to identify works by title or as a text excerpt. Literary concepts and literary historical developments, such as major movements in German literature, will also be included. Students whose exam does not contain a Pedagogy section will have a more extensive Identification section.
  • A take-home essay written over 48 hours devoted to one essay question each on the specialty list and core reading list.

Summer exams are given only under exceptional circumstances and only with the approval of the MA committee chair and the consent of all members of the committee. Most faculty are not under contract from mid-May to mid-August. Faculty members also conduct research and pursue other professional activities during that time. It should therefore not be assumed that faculty members will be available for exams during summer terms. No examination may be given in the period between summer terms and the regular fall or spring semesters. See the UK Graduate School Bulletin for more details.