The MA/PhD Qualifying Examination: Description and Expectations


The MA/PhD Qualifying examination is cumulative and consists of a written and an oral portion. Please consult the exam template on the departmental website for more information on the format. Sample exam questions are available from the DGS.

Examination questions will depend on the track which the student plans to select for their PhD.

Exam questions for literature students will come out of their coursework in literature, linguistics, and SLS (SLAV 824/Methods course) at the MA level as well as the section of the Russian Literature Reading List that corresponds to their chosen area of concentration. Each literature student will focus on one of three periods for the exam:

  1. The long 19th century (from Karamzin to 1904).
  2. 20th century (1890s to 1990s).
  3. Late 20th and the 21st centuries (1970s till the present).

In preparation for the exam, literature students will also work through recommended secondary sources (see the Russian Literature Reading List) to acquire a broad understanding of Russian literature and its development in other periods.

Literature students’ more in-depth knowledge of another period in Russian literature will be tested during their Portfolio PhD Examination.

Exam questions for linguistics students will come out of their coursework in linguistics, literature (three courses), and SLS (SLAV 824/Methods course) at the MA level. However, linguistics faculty members reserve the right to assign outside readings as exam preparation to individual students, if they feel there is a need for it.

In preparation for the exam, linguistics students will also work through a short list of recommended secondary sources to acquire a broad understanding of Russian literature and its development.

Exam questions for SLS students will come out of their coursework in linguistics, literature, and SLS (SLAV 824/Methods course) at the MA level.

Depending on their research interests and professional aspirations, SLS students will choose whether to develop stronger secondary expertise in linguistics or in literature and, correspondingly, whether to take a more linguistics-oriented version of the MA/PhD qualifying exam or a more literature-oriented one, which incorporates an area of concentration in Russian literature.

Exam questions for literature students will come out of their coursework in literature, linguistics, and SLS (SLAV 824/Methods course) at the MA level as well as the section of the Russian Literature Reading List that corresponds to their chosen area of concentration. Each literature student will focus on one of three periods for the exam:

  1. The long 19th century (from Karamzin to 1904).
  2. 20th century (1890s to 1990s).
  3. Late 20th and the 21st centuries (1970s till the present).

In preparation for the exam, literature students will also work through recommended secondary sources (see the Russian Literature Reading List) to acquire a broad understanding of Russian literature and its development in other periods.

Literature students’ more in-depth knowledge of another period in Russian literature will be tested during their Portfolio PhD Examination.

Exam questions for linguistics students will come out of their coursework in linguistics, literature (three courses), and SLS (SLAV 824/Methods course) at the MA level. However, linguistics faculty members reserve the right to assign outside readings as exam preparation to individual students, if they feel there is a need for it.

In preparation for the exam, linguistics students will also work through a short list of recommended secondary sources to acquire a broad understanding of Russian literature and its development.

Exam questions for SLS students will come out of their coursework in linguistics, literature, and SLS (SLAV 824/Methods course) at the MA level.

Depending on their research interests and professional aspirations, SLS students will choose whether to develop stronger secondary expertise in linguistics or in literature and, correspondingly, whether to take a more linguistics-oriented version of the MA/PhD qualifying exam or a more literature-oriented one, which incorporates an area of concentration in Russian literature.