Qualifying Examination Overview

During the Fall quarter of the third year, students generally work toward their qualifying examination and produce the full prospectus for their dissertation by registering for independent study credits and PFS 270 courses. The qualifying examination should be taken by the end of the first quarter of the third year of study; students who do not meet the deadline without the approval of the Main Program Adviser (MPA) will be regarded as making unsatisfactory progress. In compliance with the University’s nine quarter rule, students must take their qualifying examination by the end of the third quarter of their third year to remain eligible for academic appointments.

The examination fields should cover reading lists, normally submitted by the end of the third quarter of the second year, and in final form no later than the first week of the Fall quarter, for at least one major pedagogical area in the discipline apart from that covered by the dissertation, as well as reading lists in 2-4 fields that provide the critical, theoretical, performance and/or historical contexts of the dissertation. One way of thinking about this is that one paper covers advanced research in your field appropriate to graduate and postgraduate study; one paper covers material challenging to upper level undergraduates; and the third paper covers a more general approach to the field that might be appropriate to introductory level students. All papers however, should address leading edge questions and issues in their topical areas.

A student may choose to prepare an area of practice as research as one field, relevant to the dissertation, for examination; this will consist of practice, documentation of the process of production and a critical evaluation. The material on the examination ranges considerably beyond the focus of the dissertation and positions the student’s research interests in relation to the larger field of twentieth and twenty-first century performance and performance studies.

The usual form for describing the examination fields is:
1) a title indicating the scope of the field
2) a one-page (no more than 2 pages) outline that delineates the focus of research in your particular development of the field. This is very important since it guides your examiners to the areas in which you can be expected to answer questions.
3) a list of background resources, at least 25 key items (eg. Books, articles, archives, other documentation).

Approvals process
The Main Program Adviser (MPA) reviews the recommended qualifying examination committee, and may request changes in membership prior to the Program Administrator‟s submission of the recommendation to Graduate Studies. The qualifying examination committee is appointed in accordance with Graduate Council policies and Graduate Studies procedures.

When the examination reading lists have been approved by the qualifying examination committee, normally no later than week four of the Fall quarter, the MPA and the Program Administrator send the application to take the qualifying examination forward to Graduate Studies. The student may schedule the written and oral examinations in consultation with the examination committee and the Graduate Administrator, normally for the ninth and tenth weeks of the Fall quarter; the written exam is scheduled for three days in one week, and will examine the chosen fields in 3 exam papers, one to be taken each day normally for four hours. The oral examination is scheduled for the following week. The chair of the qualifying examination committee is responsible for gathering questions from committee members, and providing the Graduate Administrator with a clean copy of the examination.
The written examination normally consists of twenty-four hour take home examinations; the examination may be written in longhand, or on a typewriter, but preferably on a personal computer. Written material is to be handed to the Graduate Administrator, word-processed material should be emailed to the Graduate Administrator. After the final session, the Graduate Administrator copies the exam and provides each member of the Qualifying committee with a copy of the written exam, to be read in advance of the oral examination.

If part of the examination is practice as research, suitable arrangement will be made for the assessment of live or recorded performance and the accompanying documentation, to be carried out in advance of the oral examination. The oral examination is normally 2-3 hours; students may be asked to provide additional commentary on any part of the examinations, and to reflect on the dissertation prospectus. At the close of the oral exam, the Qualifying examination committee votes to pass, not pass, or fail the student on the basis of the complete examination process. Although the committee may feel that some parts of a given exam are stronger or weaker than others, the examination should be evaluated as a whole.
According to policies of the Academic Senate, a student who receives a “not pass” is eligible to sit for the examination again. In the Performance Studies Program, the entire written examination must be retaken, and should be based on the same reading lists but with a new set of questions. Re-taking part of the examination is not an option. However, should any practice as research element be assessed as pass, the student should not re-take it. A student who receives an overall “fail” will be disqualified from the program. In case of “not pass”, the major professor and student must decide on whether the student wishes to re-take the examination, and put this procedure into motion, with copy to the Graduate Program Administrator. Up to three months are allowed for a retake, and only one retake is permitted. If initial failure is due to structural problems in examination lists, emendations may be made prior to the retake.
The Graduate Advisor’s Handbook outlines the formal procedures for recommending both unanimous and split votes of pass, not pass, fail, and no exam. Failure to pass the qualifying examination for a second time will result in disqualification from the program.