Comprehensive Exams

Master Comprehensive Examination

To sit for the M.A. comprehensive examination, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • The student must be in good academic standing in the University
  • The student must have completed the residency requirement or must be enrolled for the course work which will constitute such completion at the time of examination
  • The student must be enrolled at the university

For the written examination students will have to use a PC-compatible computer with one of the two major word processing programs (Word Perfect or Microsoft Word). The exam is a 6-hour proctored examination given on one day and consisting of two areas: 1) Spanish American Literature; 2) Spanish Literature.

Each comprehensive examination will be prepared and graded by a committee consisting of the student's academic advisor, who will act as the Chair, and two additional faculty members from the Department of Modern Languages nominated by the student.

Comprehensive examinations are given twice a year, generally on the second week of March and on the second week of November for M.A. test takers. A comprehensive examination may not be passed conditionally. Passing the examination cannot be made contingent upon other factors such as the completion of additional course work or the preparation of extra research projects. The written examinations must be passed with a minimum of "B".

Students will be informed in writing of the results of their performance on the examinations within 5 working days of the examination date. If the student fails the comprehensive examination, the committee, at its discretion, may provide for reexamination at a mutually convenient time but no earlier than one semester and no later than one year from the original date of the examination. Passing the comprehensive examination is a requisite for continuing in the graduate program. Students who fail the comprehensive examination twice will be dismissed from the graduate program.

For the M.A. Reading list please click here.


Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

The Committee

Students will fill out form D-1 to appoint a Dissertation Committee. The committee is comprised of at least four members of the Graduate Faculty. The major professor must be a member of the Graduate Faculty who holds Dissertation Advisor Status and must be an expert in the subject of the dissertation. At least two members of the committee must be from the unit offering the graduate program and one must be from outside of the department or school but within FIU. Additional members may be appointed.

Students who enter with a relevant MA will form this committee by the beginning of the third semester and those who are admitted to the Ph.D. without a relevant MA will form the committee on their fourth semester.

Important: D-1 is to be completed no later than 4 semesters before the anticipated graduation semester. Deadlines for submission of subsequent forms to the UGS are available at: http:/gradschool.fiu.educurrent-students-calendar-deadlines.shtml It is the student's responsibility to make sure forms are received by the University Graduate School on time and that all deadlines are met.

Structure of the Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination will consist of two written exams. Both exams will be based on reading lists that the student will compose in consultation with his/her committee. The lists should cover a variety of texts from different fields, periods, genres, and disciplines, taking into account the aspects of the topic that the student expects to be the subject of his/her dissertation and/or field of principal interest. A month before the exams take place, the student will submit a concise statement (max. 5 pages double-spaced) describing the rationale for the lists and their aims in the examination process. The exams will be in the form of essay questions. The student will have two weeks for each take-home essay exam, each of which should be no longer than 20 pages.

Results of the Written Qualifying Examination and Defense of the Dissertation Proposal

The qualifying examination will be evaluated by three members of the dissertation committee: the major professor and the two professors from the Department of Modern Languages. If they consider that the student is ready to advance to candidacy, they will set a date for the oral defense of the dissertation proposal. Teaching Assistants should present this proposal no later than one semester after they take the qualifying examinations. The dissertation proposal consists of two documents: 1) A concise (max. 5 pages double-spaced) dissertation proposal following University Graduate School guidelines; 2) a more developed statement of research purpose and plans (15-20 pages long). Students should circulate these two documents among all the members of the committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense. The dissertation proposal has to be approved by the four members of the dissertation committee.

Form D-3 should be submitted by doctoral students as soon as the dissertation proposal has been developed and approved by the dissertation committee. Form D-3 has to be submitted at least THREE semesters before the anticipated graduation term.

If the committee determines that the student has not passed the qualifying examination, the committee may, but is not obligated to, allow him/her to retake the examination. If no such opportunity is offered, or if the student does not pass the retaken examination, he/she will be offered the option of applying for a terminal MA.

Doctoral Dissertation

The Dissertation

A dissertation is required of all candidates for the doctoral degree. Students fully admitted to candidacy register in SPN 7980 Dissertation Research. Candidates must be registered in at least three credit-hours of dissertation research every semester --including at least one summer term-- once he or she begins such preparation. The candidate must be enrolled for dissertation credits during the semester in which the doctoral degree is awarded. Students who fail to enroll in at least three dissertation credits will be discontinued from the program. Upon completion of a dissertation, the Ph.D. candidate will submit to the Dean of Graduate School an application for dissertation defense signed by the dissertation director. The application must be five weeks in advance to allow both the Graduate Dean in Arts and Sciences and the Dean of University Graduate School to review all documents and publish the notice in a monthly calendar of dissertation and theses defenses for the University community. Four copies of the final version of the dissertation, prepared in accordance with the most recent edition of the MLA Style Manual or MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Paper and the FIU Guidelines for Thesis and Dissertation Writers (available from the Office of Graduate Studies), together with an abstract in English of a maximum of 350 words, must be submitted to the Dissertation Committee at least five weeks before the Oral Defense of the Dissertation, which must be scheduled before the deadline established each academic year by University Graduate School.

The Dissertation Defense

The date, time, and place of the Defense will be announced by memo from the Dissertation Director at least two weeks in advanced to the rest of the committee, the candidate, the Director of Graduate Studies, the department Chairperson, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Dean of Graduate Studies and Media Relations. The oral defense, which is open to the public, will take the following form: 15 minute presentation by the candidate, and a 10 minute question period from each member of the dissertation committee. Following the successful defense, as determined by a majority vote of the student's committee, the dissertation is forwarded to the Arts and Sciences Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and to the University Graduate School Dean for their approval. The Ph.D. dissertation must be completed within five years of the doctoral qualifying examination, or the examination will have to be retaken.