ECU Logo
 
Department of English
PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication


BlackBoardIT Help DeskEmail and PhoneOneStopCalendarAccessibilityTwitterFacebook
 
Wordle to describe program research areas
Printer Friendly




Comprehensive Examination

 

The comprehensive exam structure has four parts and provides students with opportunities to illustrate their breadth and depth of knowledge developed in their coursework. All of the parts are designed to assess a student’s readiness to complete his or her dissertation research project.


The committee for the comprehensive examination will be made up of the student’s primary advisor, one other faculty member chosen by the student, and one chosen by the Director of Graduate Studies. A student’s exam committee may or may not serve as the student’s dissertation committee.

 

1.   Journal-Ready Article or Bibliographic Essay (Manuscript-Ready Submission)

In consultation with their primary advisor, students will complete an article or essay that is judged ready to be submitted to a referred journal. Students will include a memo with information on the targeted journal and any publication guidelines. This will be sent to the exam committee on the day the PhD Core Exam is scheduled. After successfully completing this part of the exam, the student is expected to submit the article.

In consultation with their committee, students will compile separate reading lists for parts 2 and 3 of the comprehensive exam described below and submit them to their exam committees for approval. The committee will use the reading lists to compile the exam questions.

2.     Phd Core Exam

This exam will assess the student’s breadth of knowledge from the core areas of rhetoric, writing, and professional communication. Students will sit for this exam and answer two (2) questions out of four (4) questions during a four-hour period. The reading list should include works from the core areas of the PhD: rhetorical theory and history; writing studies and pedagogy; and professional communication theory and practice.

 

3.     Specialization Exam

This take-home exam will assess the student’s developing area of specialization and its relationship to the rest of the field. Students will have seven (7) calendar days from the time they receive their exam questions to complete this exam. The exam will consist of four (4) questions where students will pick two (2) to answer. Each response will be a 2,000-2,500 word essay that includes in-text citations and a related references section that includes a list of at least 10-12 sources for each essay.

 

4.     Oral Comprehensive Exam

After successfully passing parts 1, 2 and 3, the student will meet with her or his exam committee and respond to questions related to the student’s exam answers and reading lists. Students should be prepared to discuss the process used to complete the parts of the comprehensive exam as well as the arguments they made in any part of their written work. Committee members will ask a series of questions before excusing the student to confer about the results of the oral portion of the exam. Results and feedback from all parts of the comprehensive exam will be delivered to the student at that time and reported to the Director of Graduate Studies. Students will schedule the oral comprehensive exam for a date that is to occur 2 weeks and no more than 6 weeks after the completion of the specialization exam.

Scheduling and Timing of the Comprehensive Exam

Students should plan to complete all parts of the comprehensive exam by the end of their 6th semester (or 10th semester for part-time students) in the program. The reading lists for the exams need to be approved by the student’s exam committee by the mid-point of the semester prior to a student taking the exam. The journal article proposal or draft should also be received and approved by the committee in the semester prior to submission. Students should work with their committees to schedule their comprehensive exam no later than two weeks before the end of the semester.

Students will have 7 calendar days from the time they submit part 1 of the exam to complete parts 2 and 3 of the exam. (For example, If a student sits for the core exam [part 2] on a Thursday, he or she will have until the following Monday to begin the Specialization Exam [part 3], which must be completed by Thursday [8:00 am] at the latest.)

The exam committee evaluates part 1 of the exam according to the publication guidelines of the journal and whether the article is ready to be sent to the selected journal.

The exam committee evaluates parts 2 and 3 of the exam for the students’ abilities to (1) make and sustain an academic argument; (2) choose and synthesize supporting sources; (3) recognize, analyze, and discuss issues/trends/ conversations in the field; (4) express themselves in academically appropriate ways (organization, style, etc.); and (5) articulate the relationship between their area of specialization and other conversations in the field.

If a student fails any part of the comprehensive exam, the student will be allowed to re-take one exam, one time. If a student fails more than one part, the student will meet with his or her primary advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies to determine a course of action, which may include dismissal from the program.

After determining a date and time, you will ask the Graduate Administrative Assistant to schedule a room. A room, with a desktop or laptop computer, will be provided for you to complete your exams.

Guidelines for Creating Reading Lists for PhD Comprehensive Exam
Part 1:
Journal-Ready Article or Bibliographic Essay
The works cited or references page of the article/essay will serve as the reading list for this part of the exam.

(from handbook) “In consultation with their committee, students will compile separate reading lists for parts 2 and 3 of the comprehensive exam and submit them to their exam committees for approval. The committee will use the reading lists to compile the exam questions.”


Part 2:
PhD Core Exam
The reading list for the PhD Core Exam should include approximately 20 works, to be approved by your exam committee, balanced between the areas that make up the core. The reading list should be accompanied by a 500-1000 word statement/rationale and guiding questions for how you understand and position yourself within the core areas of study. Readings from core coursework are allowed and encouraged.


Part 3:
Specialization Exam
The reading list for the Specialization Exam will include approximately 30-40 works, to be approved by your exam committee, that inform your area of specialization and its relationship to the rest of the field. Your reading list should be accompanied by a 500-1000 word statement/rationale and guiding questions that defines your area of specialization and its relationship to the rest of the field.


Note:
Reading lists should include books, chapters, excerpts, and journal articles applicable to how the students understand the relationships between the core areas and their area of specialization. There may be some overlap between the lists. Committee members will consider this when approving reading lists.