Area Exam

On this page, you will find information about the Area Exam from graduate students who have been through it.

The Area Exam is the last step before you become ABD (all but dissertation). This is your opportunity to become an expert in two areas of literary study, hopefully with a view toward developing your dissertation. You will ask an appropriate faculty member to head up each area, and they will help you develop the lists of books you need to read for the exam.

You are asked to write a rationale for each area. The rationale is a short paper (ideally 15-20 pages) which your examiners will use to guide your exam. You must hand your rationales in to each area advisor a minimum of three weeks before your exam, so that they can suggest changes, and you must get the final rationales out to your committee two weeks before your exam (i.e. following this procedure, you will have one week to get feedback and make changes before having to hand out the final rationales).

Your areas committee will consist of the head of your primary area (who will also be the chair of the committee), the head of your secondary area and two readers whom you select and ask. When you and your area advisors feel you are ready, you will set the date for your exam which will last about two hours.

The official requirements from the English Department can be found here (you have to scroll down to the section headed "PhD" where it is called the "Doctoral Examination").

Student Experiences

Amanda's Area Exam
Here are some tips that I learned from my Area writing and exam taking experience; these tips are also informed by the experiences of friends and and colleagues in the department.

Ann's Area Exam
Areas: English Renaissance Drama/Performance and Courtesy Literature (Manners)

Share your experiences here.

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