Qualifying Exams

The qualifying exams in Early Mediterranean and West Asian Religions are taken in conjunction with or after the conclusion of required course work. Students must complete all course work, language requirements, and exams and have an accepted dissertation proposal prior to the start of their eighth semester in order to be admitted to candidacy. Hence, students should plan to take their examination before or during their third year.

Preparation for the qualifying examinations is comprised of a combination of course work and supplementary individual readings. The examinations are not intended to test the student’s ability as a research scholar; course work, research papers, and the dissertation are intended to demonstrate research ability. Rather, the purpose of the examinations is to certify preparedness to begin special research, to demonstrate advanced comprehension of primary materials and the scholarly debates about them, and to ensure the ability to construct one’s own graduate-level courses as a teacher.

The qualifying examinations allow students to exhibit specialized expertise in a range of core literature and problems on the examined topic.  They are taken sequentially, rather than all at once. Students take two examinations in their primary area of concentration, one in their secondary area of concentration and one general examination on a broad topic that integrates the two areas of concentration and prepares the student for the dissertation project.  The qualifying examinations are as follows:

  1. Two seminar-based qualifying exams:
    Typically, one qualifying exam in the primary area of concentration and one qualifying exam in the secondary area of concentration are taken during the first two years following the completion of a seminar. (With permission from the ADGS, students may also request alternative distributions of these two course-based exams across their three modules.) For both exams, the student will select a seminar and, with the instructor’s permission, sit for a qualifying examination at the end of the semester or submit a substantial (20-25 pp) paper as required by the faculty member(s) teaching the seminar.  The examination or paper fulfills the requirement of the qualifying exam.


  2. Two bibliography-based qualifying exams:
    One qualifying exam in the primary area of concentration and the single general examination on a broad topic that integrates the student’s areas of concentration are based on bibliographies compiled by the student in consultation with relevant faculty.  These exams are normally taken by the end of the third year.

Students in the Language Concentration Track will complete an additional language exam or proficiency exercise as determined in consultation with the faculty.