The PhD examination process involves two portfolio papers, an oral or written examination on a bibliography of a minimum of forty works central to the student's specialization, and a colloquy on the dissertation prospectus. One of the portfolio papers will have as its focus the student’s primary area of specialization while the other paper will address a different area. The bibliography will be constructed by the student in consultation with the committee, and will accompany the portfolio papers for formal evaluation by the committee. Students should have an approved ipos on file and a committee appointed before submitting the portfolio.
The Phd Literature Exam Structure has recently changed. Students in literature have the option of the current structure (two portfolio papers, a written or an oral exam, and the colloquy) or they may choose the new exam process (one paper, an oral exam, and a colloquy).
PART I - Portfolio: Students will give to the graduate program manager three copies of each paper, an approved bibliography that will serve as the material for the exam, and the PhD Examination, Part I--Portfolio Review and Statement of Intent form. The committee will assess each of the papers and judge them (a) acceptable, (b) acceptable with minor revisions, (c) acceptable with major revision, (d) unacceptable. The committee has the option of awarding an extraordinary portfolio a "Pass with Distinction." A summary of the committee's evaluation, provided by the chair of the committee, will be made available to the student who should feel free to consult with the chair and members of the committee for clarification about revisions that might have been requested. Students whose portfolios are judged to be unacceptable will not be allowed to continue in the program.
Portfolios must be submitted by October 31 for the fall semester and March 3l for the spring semester if a report is expected during the semester of submission. A student will normally present the portfolio in the semester prior to taking the oral examination, but if the portfolio is submitted early enough in any given semester to allow for an early report, and if all members of the supervisory committee are agreeable, it is possible to schedule the oral examination in the same semester.
Students preparing for the portfolio are expected to work closely with the chair of the supervisory committee as the primary source of advice in the preparation of the papers, including approval of the choice of papers. It is helpful to keep in mind that the portfolio’s intent is to demonstrate that the student is able to produce scholarly work at a level expected by the profession and consistent with the degree program. Essays may be revised versions of work submitted in courses, but they must bear no grade or comment. Because papers submitted in the portfolio will be read more critically than is often the case with course work, students should not assume that a term paper favorably evaluated in a course will meet the scholarly standard required of a successful portfolio essay (a student who expects to use a course paper in the portfolio might ask the professor for whom it is written to read and evaluate it with that goal in mind). In both length and in level of scholarship the papers should be modeled after articles published in specific scholarly journals in the field. Portfolio papers must be single-authored by the student.
PART II – Exam: After the portfolio has been judged acceptable and in consultation with their advisors, students choose to take either an oral or a written exam.
Oral Examination: For Part II of the examination, the committee will prepare questions for an oral examination based on the student's bibliography and will be responsible for evaluating the student's performance in that examination. Students should discuss with their committee when the exam should be scheduled and then contact Sheila Luna for a room. A few days before the exam, contact the Main Office at 965-3535 to reserve a tape recorder. Download the Doctoral Oral Exam Form and bring the form and a blank tape to the exam. After the exam, return the signed form and tape to Sheila Luna .
The purpose of the oral examination is to demonstrate that the candidate has an appropriate and readily accessible knowledge of representative primary and secondary works in the area(s) of specialization and the dissertation topic. During the examination session, students will demonstrate not only that they have a detailed knowledge of the material contained on their book list, but that they are able to think critically about the items and are able to generate ideas that bring various items on the list together competently and creatively. Students will be given a range of questions from specific interpretations of items on the book list to broader questions that explore general concepts and issues raised by the books on their list.
The oral examination will last approximately one and a half hours and will be conducted by the student’s dissertation committee. The examination will be tape-recorded for documentation purposes. The tape will be kept in the student’s file, accessible to the committee and the student, until graduation. Students will not be allowed to bring in notes, though they will be provided with a pad of paper and a pencil if they should want to jot down ideas during the examination. Before questioning begins, students will make a brief presentation (10 minutes) explaining the rationale behind their bibliography. Committee faculty will take turns asking questions, allowing for follow-up questioning. Each committee member will submit questions to the committee chair (approximately two questions per committee member). Approximately six questions, exclusive of follow-up questions, will comprise the exam. At the end of the examination, the student will be excused from the room, and the committee will discuss the student’s performance. Each committee member will fill out the form using a number equivalent (3=high pass, 2= pass, 1=low pass, 0= fail) to evaluate the student’s performance. The student will be called back into the meeting so that the committee can convey to the student its assessment of the examination. Students who fail the exam may re-take it once. Depending on the circumstances and reasons for failure, students are expected to re-take the exam no later than the end of the following semester.
Written Examination: A four-hour written exam in the student's area of specialization will be scheduled by mutual agreement between the student, the chair of the committee, and the other committee members.
For Part II of the examination, the committee will prepare a written examination based on the student's bibliography and will be responsible for evaluating the student's performance in that examination. Just as the portfolio is meant to test a specific attainment, the ability to produce professional scholarly writing, so the purpose of the written examination is to demonstrate that the candidate has an appropriate knowledge of representative primary and secondary works in the area of specialization and the dissertation topic. The department expects that the examination will be broader in scope than the dissertation (which is the subject of the third part of the examination process, the colloquy on the dissertation prospectus). As with the oral exam, students can receive a high pass, pass, low pass, or fail.
Part III - Colloquy on the Dissertation Prospectus: Successful completion of the examination will be followed by a colloquy on the dissertation prospectus. This colloquy may be scheduled in the same semester as the written examination but no later than the semester following that examination. The subject and format of the dissertation will be decided in consultation with the student's supervisory committee and with the approval of the director of the PhD program. The prospectus, especially the research plan and procedure, constitutes the basis for the colloquy with the supervisory committee. An alternative format for the dissertation, other than a traditional monograph, must be approved by the dissertation chair and the supervisory committee (see individual PhD programs for details about alternative dissertation formats that may be considered). After the defense of the prospectus, the student must submit the signed Report of Doctoral Prospectus form to the graduate program manager for processing.
Students can track the completion of milestones on their MyASU, such as the approved ipos, language requirement, PhD exams, prospectus. When all milestones have been met, the Schedule a Defense tab will become available. Please note: students taking exams in between terms, must be registered for the next session (e.g., after spring and before summer – students must be registered for summer).
Defense of the Dissertation: The student should confer with members of the supervisory committee to determine the preferred procedure for submitting sections of the dissertation (for example, whether each member of the committee wishes to examine, along with the chair, each separate section or only the complete first draft).
Students may find it helpful to attend other oral defenses before their own is scheduled. Defenses are announced via e-mail in the Department of English, in Insight, and posted on the fifth floor of the language and literature building. It is the obligation of the candidate to observe Graduate College Graduation Procedures and Deadlines for both approval of formatting and the defense of the dissertation. After the student and committee members agree on a date and time for the defense, the student can contact Sheila Luna to schedule a room. Note: date, time, and room must be determined before students can schedule a defense with the Graduate College. Defense scheduling is done online through the student's MyASU - defense schedule tab. Notes and documentation in doctoral dissertations are to conform to the latest edition of the MLA Style Manual, or the APA Publication Manual or any other format accepted by the Graduate College.
Oral defenses of theses and dissertations are announced in the English Department. A student preparing for his/her defense should send an e-mail to Sheila@asu.edu <mailto:Sheila@asu.edu>, which will include student name, thesis/dissertation title, date, time, room, committee chair, committee members, and a brief abstract. The abstract should be in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment.