Qualifying Examinations

Nature and Purpose

The qualifying examinations in Philosophy of Religion are normally taken after the conclusion of required course work and must be completed before admission to candidacy. Ordinarily, students take the examinations in their third year of residence. Preparation for the qualifying examinations is comprised of a combination of course work and supplementary individual readings. As a general rule of thumb, the student should strive for a level of knowledge and expertise such as would be required to compose and deliver advanced undergraduate lectures on the subject. The examinations are not meant to test the students’ ability as a research scholar. Course work, research papers, and the dissertation will do that. Passage of the qualifying exams is one requirement demanded of all students seeking the Ph.D., but it is not the only requirement, nor is it the most important. The dissertation is. Therefore, the exams should be kept within their proper proportions, and the following guidelines are designed to help with this.

Descriptions and Procedures

The qualifying examinations in Philosophy of Religion consist of three field examinations and one oral examination on the dissertation prospectus.

The field examinations may be oral or written. They are intended to be general, allowing the student to exhibit control of a range of literature, thinkers, and problems in three different areas.

For all three, the faculty will draw up a standard reading list, divided into Ancient, Medieval, Modern Classical, and Contemporary sections. Questions will be formulated by the student in consultation with the two readers. In the light of the questions, the student would be required to become familiar with a selection from the total number of items on the standard reading list. All students would have to become familiar with an appropriate selection from the Contemporary segment of the reading list. The student could then choose two of the other three sections with which to become familiar. In the contemporary period of philosophy (and philosophy of religion), all students would be required to have some familiarity with both the continental and the analytic traditions.