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MA Exam Procedures: Thesis

Purpose and Content

The Master's examination is designed to test the students' ability to demonstrate extensive knowledge of the assigned texts, apply critical skills in the analysis of those texts and organize and write coherent, substantial essays in Spanish.

The Master's examinations are written exams from the areas the student has chosen. Thesis students must schedule an oral defense for the thesis and written exams.

Comprehensive Exams

After completing the required coursework, degree candidates must take two comprehensive exams and complete a Masters thesis. The student should select one graduate faculty member who will serve as her/his thesis advisor and will be in charge of administering the comprehensive exams. The student should also select two other graduate faculty members who, with the advisor, will form his/her graduate committee. Each faculty member of the committee will create his/her portion of the comprehensive exam which the advisor will then administer to the degree candidate. The thesis topic may be chosen from any of the fields in literature, linguistics or a minor field. In consultation with the thesis advisor, the two written exams must be chosen from one of each of the following areas: Peninsular Literature and Spanish American Literature. For the M.A. in Linguistics, the topics of the two written exams must be chosen in consultation with the thesis advisor.

Scheduling

Exams will ordinarily be given during the last semester of the student's M.A. courses. Financial support (four semesters) is dependent on timely completion of the degree. Exams may not be postponed more than one semester beyond the fourth. Part-time students must complete the exams by the semester following the last course that counts toward the degree. Postponements will be granted only for unusual and extenuating circumstances.

 Exams will be given three times yearly: the second Monday in October (December graduation, the first Monday after spring break (May graduation), and the first Monday in June (August graduation). Exact dates will be determined at the beginning of each semester. Any exceptions will require special permission from the graduate faculty.

The written portion of the two exams will be administered over a six-hour period during the scheduled date. The thesis defense and M.A. exam will be given a few days following the written exam (no later than two weeks) at the discretion of the student's committee prior to the deadline set by the graduate school. The committee will meet then with the M.A. candidate, who will defend his/her thesis and will answer questions about the thesis and the content of the exams. It will be desirable that the student establish connections between his/her thesis topic and critical approaches and the other areas in which he/she has been examined.

Thesis Committee

After successfully completing eighteen hours of coursework, the student will choose a thesis committee consisting of three faculty members whose teaching and/or research correspond to the selected areas. The person who will direct the thesis will be asked to serve as chair of the committee. The exam questions will be formulated and evaluated by the committee members.

Administration of the Exam

The student must inform the Graduate advisor in writing, 8-10 weeks in advance of the day set for the exam of his/her intention to take the M.A. exams, the names of the three committee members and the areas in which he/she will be examined and the area in which he/she will write the thesis. The Graduate advisor will be responsible for:

1) distributing copies of the letter to the committee members;

2) setting the date of the exam;

3) collecting the questions from each member, keeping them in a sealed envelope and handing it over to the Administrative secretary who will also reserve rooms for the exam;

4) making five copies of each exam: one for each committee member, one for the student and one for the departmental file.

The thesis committee chairperson will be responsible for directing the thesis, organizing and administering the exam, and reporting the results to the Graduate Dean, the student, and the Spanish Graduate Advisor. Both written exams and the thesis must be passed by the Committee in order for the student to earn the M.A. degree. If one area is not approved, the student will have to re-take that area after a period of at least four months and no later than twelve months. If the student fails two or more areas, the student will have to be re-examined in all three areas after a period of at least four months and no later than twelve months. The chair will notify the Dean of the Graduate School. If the student does not pass all three areas in the second examination, no degree will be granted.

Eligibility for the Doctoral Program

Successful completion of the Master's exam does not guarantee automatic eligibility or acceptance into the doctoral program. The Master's committee will evaluate the student's examination and recommend in favor of either a terminal M.A. or of eligibility to continue. This assessment will become part of the student's file in the department. If the student wishes to apply for admission to the doctoral program, the Spanish graduate faculty will evaluate the Master's committee's assessment as well as the student's annual review and other factors. If the evaluation is favorable, the student may be accepted in the doctoral program. If the evaluation is unfavorable, a terminal Master's degree will be granted.