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History of Art Graduate Degrees

The Ph.D. general comprehensive examination consists of two parts: the written examinations and the comprehensive oral examination. The exams will cover the student’s one major and two minor areas of study previously approved by the faculty in the student’s Doctoral Program of Study petition.

In the process of preparing the Doctoral Program of Study petition, the student should establish with each advisor the scope of the major or minor field and the expectations the advisor has for the student’s preparation for the written tests and comprehensive oral examination. It is the student’s responsibility to maintain ongoing contact with the advisors until it is time to take these examinations.

When the doctoral aspirant has completed the course work specified on his or her Doctoral Program of Study petition at a level satisfactory to the department and has met all other requirements of the department and Graduate Studies (including evidencing two research skills and maintaining full-time enrollment at the University at the Ph.D. level for a minimum of one year), s/he may stand for the departmental written and comprehensive oral examinations.

It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the comprehensive written and oral examinations. The written examinations are to be taken normally over a period of no more than three weeks. The comprehensive oral examination should normally be taken one week after the conclusion of the written examinations.

  1. The scheduling of both written and oral examinations should be done in consultation with the major and minor doctoral committee advisors and at least two additional committee examiners, normally three to four months in advance of the commencement of the written examinations.
  2. At least two months before the student’s written examinations commence, email the following information to the Graduate Academic Advisor so that the exam may be officially scheduled:
  • The names, email addresses, and role (chair, committee member, outside member) of all five members of the committee.
  • Written exam start and end dates and times, with subject area and advisor listed for each.
  • Two to three possible dates (usually Fridays) on which to schedule the oral examination. These dates must be approved by the major field and minor field advisors first. The Graduate Academic Advisor will then work with your entire committee to find a mutually convenient time for your oral examination.
  1. The Graduate Academic Advisor will send out a reminder of the written examinations to the entire committee two weeks in advance of the first written examination. Additionally, the Graduate Academic Advisor will send out a reminder to the entire committee one week in advance of the oral examination.
  2. If the oral exam requires a conference call, inform the Graduate Academic Advisor so that preparations can be made in advance.

1. Written Examinations

The written examinations will cover the student’s one major and two minor areas of study previously approved by the faculty in the student’s Doctoral Program of Study petition. The tests may be taken under option A (take home) or B (at school). Students may elect to take part of the exam under option A and part under option B.

Option A. (take home). The essays are written outside of the department, with full access to books, notes, and other resources. The completed essays should be fully documented with citations, double spaced, in 12 pt. font with one-inch margins. For the major field the student will have seven 24-hour days; for each minor field three 24-hour days.

The written examination questions are sent via email from the Office Manager to the student on the appointed day/hour. The student returns his/her answers via email to the Office Manager by the predetermined deadline (seven 24-hour days after receipt of major field question(s); three 24-hour days after receipt of each minor field question).

Option B (on campus). The essays are written in the department, without access to books, notes, or other resources. The completed essays are not expected to be documented with precise citations, but are expected to be typed on a computer. The test in the major area will last six consecutive hours, and the tests in the two minor areas will last three consecutive hours each. The arrangement of these exam hours is decided by the student and the student’s major advisor.

The advisors for the three areas will each grade the written examinations “pass” or “fail,” usually within a week of completion of the essays. If all grades are “pass,” the advisors need not meet. If one or more grade is a “fail,” or if one of the advisors so requests, the graders shall meet to discuss the outcome of the examinations. Only students who pass the written examinations may proceed to the comprehensive oral examination. A student who receives a “fail” on any of the written examinations will be asked to retake one or more of the area tests, but in no cases may the written examinations (in part or in their entirety) be taken more than three times. In any case, the examination may not be repeated until at least 90 days have elapsed since the last unsuccessful attempt.

2. Comprehensive Oral Examination

The committee for the comprehensive oral examination shall consist of at least five graduate faculty members including the advisors for the major and minor areas. In addition to advisors for the major and minor areas, at least one member of the committee must be a regular member of the KU graduate faculty from a department other than the aspirant’s major department. A prospective member of the committee from outside the university must have gained appointment as an ad hoc member of the History of Art graduate faculty before appointment to the committee. An ad hoc member of the committee is not considered an outside committee member.

At the end of the comprehensive oral examination the committee must assign a grade of “honors,” “satisfactory,” or “unsatisfactory.” It can assign a grade of “satisfactory” or “honors” on the basis of both the comprehensive oral and written examinations; it can assign the grade of “unsatisfactory” on the basis of the comprehensive oral examination alone. If the aspirant receives a grade of “unsatisfactory” on the comprehensive oral examination, it (in part or in its entirety) may be repeated on the recommendation of the committee, but under no circumstances may it be taken more than three times. In any case, the comprehensive oral examination may not be repeated until at least 90 days have elapsed since the last unsuccessful attempt.

The committee will complete and sign a Committee Report Form which will specify the result of your examination. Once it has been completed, it is the student’s responsibility to turn this form into the Office Manager immediately for submission to COGA.


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