Here is a copy of the Slavic Languages and Literatures Graduate Student Handbook.

Examination Format

Graduate students will, as part of their Ph.D. program, pass two batteries of examinations: the Comprehensive Examination and the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. They shall be taken in this order and in conformity with the time line given below.

The Comprehensive Examination will be a typed examination given in take-home format. The exams shall be typed in English. The questions will address the following three discrete historical periods:

  • Russian literature through the 18th Century
  • The 19th Century and Early 20th Century
  • Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian literature (1917-present)

The Comprehensive Examination will be based on the Departmental MA Reading List.

The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination will consist of typed and oral segments. The typed examination will be administered in take-home format and completed within two weeks. All sources used in the composition of answers will be documented according to the standards of scholarly writing in the field. The exams shall be typed in English. The typed questions will be organized to address three discrete areas of specialization, formulated individually for each student within the following parameters:

  • Genre(s) or medium/media
  • Author(s) or producer(s)
  • Historical period(s)

Candidates are expected to demonstrate mastery of the appropriate body of theory relevant to each area.

The typed examinations will be followed by an oral examination, to be administered by the candidate's examination committee and all members of the Slavic department graduate faculty who wish to participate. The oral examination will be scheduled to follow the typed examinations in as timely a fashion as possible.

Qualifying Examinations: Candidate and Committee Responsibilities

  • Each graduate student not already having an advisor will choose an adviser as soon as possible after passing the Comprehensive Examination.
  • Each student will choose three areas of specialization in which he/she will be examined. These areas should be chosen within the parameters listed above under Examination Format. The three specific areas must be approved by the advisor.
  • The advisor will chair the student's examination committee, which will include all members of the graduate faculty currently in residence who are competent to read and write examinations in the student's areas of specialization. Any member of the Slavic Department's graduate faculty who wishes to serve on the examination committee will be permitted to do so.
  • The student will develop reading lists for the three areas of specialization. These lists will constitute a minimal basis upon which the student will be tested and are not to be considered exhaustive. The development of these reading lists is to be supervised by the student's adviser in consultation with the members of the examination committee. Both the adviser and the committee must approve these lists in their final form.
  • All members of the committee shall submit questions for the examinations. The adviser shall write the examination and make a draft available to the committee for approval. * The student will have two weeks to produce answers to the examination questions.
  • All members of the examination committee are expected to participate in the reading and grading of the exams and in the administration of the oral exam.

Graduate Examinations and "Satisfactory Progress"

  • Graduate students entering the program with no advanced preparation beyond the undergraduate degree will be expected to complete 9 credits of course work each semester until satisfaction of departmental and FAS course requirements for the Ph.D. degree.
  • Generally, students should attempt the Comprehensive Examination as soon as they feel they are sufficiently prepared.  To remain in good standing, students must take the Comprehensive Examination before the third year of full-time study begins.  Students who fail any of the Comprehensive Examination’s three sections will be put on probationary status until the failed sections are retaken.  Students entering in the Fall semester will be in bad standing if they have not passed all three sections by 15 April of the third year of full-time study; i.e., after 6 semesters of course work.
  • The reading lists for the Qualifying Examinations must be approved by the adviser and committee by 15 December of the fourth year of full-time study.
  • The typed section of the Qualifying Examination must begin no later than 20 March of the fourth year of full-time graduate study.
  • The oral examination and all three typed sections of the Qualifying Examination must be completed before the beginning of the fifth year of full-time study. Students who fail any portion of the Qualifying Examination, including the oral examination, will be put on probationary status until the failed portion is retaken. Students entering in the Fall semester will be in bad standing if they have not passed all parts of the Qualifying Examination by 15 April of the fifth year of full-time graduate study; i.e., after 10 semesters of course work
  • This series of deadlines will be adjusted appropriately for students entering the program in the Spring semester.
  • In the event of a documented medical or family emergency during the examination period, the examination may be rescheduled.  Computer failure is not considered an emergency, and students are responsible for making timely back-ups of their work.
  • Should a student fail any section of the Qualifying or Comprehensive Examination, it may only be retaken once.  The timeframe for retaking the examination will be determined by the exam coordinator.


  • Examiners assign traditional Pass/Fail marks, which will be translated into a 0 – 4 point scale:


0/1  (examiners may specify level of failure)

Low Pass




High Pass



  • Averaged numerical marks are translated back into prose according to the same scale:

0 – 1.75



1.76 – 2.75 

Low Pass

“minimal achievement”

2.76 – 3.75


“adequate achievement”

3.76 – 4

High Pass

“superior achievement”


  • The overall rating of a passing exam (Low Pass, Pass, or High Pass) will be calculated using the same scale, averaging the score of all sections.

  • Failure will not be determined by the total average score, but by the failure of any individual exam section (which may then be retaken once).