Qualifying Exams

The qualifying examinations in Asian religions are taken after the conclusion of required course work and must be completed before admission to candidacy. Ordinarily students take the examinations in the third year of residence. Preparation for the qualifying examination is comprised of a combination of course work and supplementary individual readings. The usual procedure is to take the qualifying exams with instructors with whom one has already taken a graduate level seminar. It is, therefore, important to give thought to the intended qualifying exams during the first and second years of study. One would then typically spend one more semester working with the relevant instructor to develop a further bibliography for independent study following which would take place the exam. The precise mode of preparation will vary depending on the student, the examiner, and the particular topic and circumstances. The goal of the qualifying exam process is to help the student develop breath outside of their central area of specialization and the topic of their dissertation, and it is expected that at least one of the qualifying exams (see below) will be administered by faculty outside of the Asian Religions teaching group.

Although the precise format of the exams will be determined by the examining instructor (in consultation with the teaching group in Asian Religions, if the examiner is not within the Asian Religions teaching group), the usual procedure will involve a written examination followed by an oral examination. The written one will be an at-home and open-book exam, and each written exam will consist of three questions administered either over a single period of 24 hours, or over three successive days with 8 hours allotted per question. An oral exam will then follow shortly thereafter, during which time the examiner will be able to ask follow up questions pertaining to the content of the written responses.

The Asian Religions program has two qualifying exams:

  1. Cognate Regional Exam:

This subject of this exam will be a topic in the field of Asian Religions outside of the student’s primary geographical area of specialization but related to the religious, disciplinary, or topical area of the intended dissertation. For example, a student writing a dissertation on Chinese Buddhist monasticism might take a Regional Exam on Korean Buddhism; or Christian monasticism; or Indian Buddhism. A student writing a dissertation on modern Korean Buddhism might take an exam on modern Chinese Buddhism.

  1. Cognate Disciplinary Exam:

The subject of this exam will be a topic closely related to the student’s dissertation topic in terms of geographic region, but set in a different discipline. A student specializing in medieval Chinese Buddhism, for example, might take an exam in either medieval Chinese literature or Chinese Art History; a student specializing in modern Korean Buddhism might take an exam in modern East Asian history, or East Asian anthropology.

Suggested areas include:

East Asian Buddhism
Buddhism and Modernity in East Asia
Chinese and Korean art history
Chinese and Korean history
Chinese and Korean literature
Himalayan religious history
Indian literature
Indian art and archeology
Buddhism in the Japanese Empire
Korean Buddhism, History, and Culture
Monastic life; sectarianism and historiography in Asia
Ritual and magic in Asia
Sanskrit language and linguistics
Scripture and doctrinal exegesis in Asia
Buddhism, Atheism, and Sexuality