Graduate Exams at UIC
exams are generally based on colloquia readings and topics covered
during the past three years. The faculty in each major field construct a standard bibliography of important works in the field organized according to the most important themes in the field—areas of inquiry that any student would be expected to master (e.g. French Revolution in modern Europe; slavery in U.S.). The list includes recommended readings for each theme. Each student prepares an individualized major field list derived largely from this longer bibliography.
Each theme should be covered, but not every work in every category need be on each student’s list. Lists will require regularly updating (approximately every three years). Students are responsible for developing
their own minor field reading lists in conjunction with their
advisors and other faculty in the minor field area. Examination
questions are often historiographical and analytical and are not
necessarily restricted to topics covered in particular graduate
courses. For this reason, it is extremely important for students
to consult those members of the graduate faculty who are responsible
for examination fields in order to become familiar with expectations.
Students are strongly encouraged to consult previous written tests,
as well as a range of course syllabi. Previous written tests in
most fields, as well as many course syllabi, are available for inspection
and photocopying in the Graduate Secretary's office.
Exam readers will be selected within the first two weeks of each semester for that semester’s exam, and the identity of the readers for each field will be made known to the students at that time. Conversely readers will also receive the names and contact information for all exam takers in their fields.
Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the chairs of their exam committees. In large fields (such as U.S. history) committee chairs may prefer to organize one general meeting for all exam takers rather than meeting individually with a relatively large number of students.
It is possible
to petition to take the major field examination in an area not included
in the History Department's official list. Students who wish to
explore this option must consult with the Director of Graduate Studies.
examinations are based on reading lists compiled by the student
in consultation with two faculty members who specialize in that
area. Students should develop minor fields in consultation with
petition to take minor field exams in areas not included in the
History Department's approved list. The petition must be endorsed
by at least two faculty members who are competent to administer
the exam. In certain circumstances, one or both faculty members
may come from outside the Department of History. All petitions for
special fields must be submitted for approval to the Graduate Advisory
Committee. (This does not apply to MAT students preparing a minor
field in the College of Education.) Petitions for special fields
must be submitted at least one semester prior to the examination.
Examinations for the stand-alone MA Degree in History at UIC
- The purpose
of the comprehensive exam is to give students the opportunity
to demonstrate mastery in three areas of historical inquiry.
must take comprehensive exams in one major field and two minor
fields. One minor field must be distinct in space or time from
the major field.
generally take their comprehensive exams during the second year
of graduate study.
need not be enrolled during the semester in which they take their
- The comprehensive
exams are offered twice each year, once in the fall and once in
must submit to the Graduate Secretary
a written application that lists the major and minor fields as
well as the members of the graduate faculty with whom the student
has worked. The application must be signed by the student's advisor.
The application deadline is posted each semester by the Graduate
who plan to take comprehensive exams should meet with the appropriate
faculty member in each minor field at least six months prior to
- The major
field exam takes three hours. Each minor field exam takes two
hours. Examinations take place during a single week, with each
test scheduled for a different day.
the major field exam is graded by three faculty members and the
minor fields by two faculty members. Students can score high pass
(for performances of superior quality), pass, or fail. If a student
fails all or part of any portion of the exam the student may re-take
that portion up to two times. Should the student fail a minor field,
the student will have two opportunities to re-take the exam. The
student may choose to be examined again in a different minor field,
in which case the student must re-apply for the exam. The student
may exercise this option only once. Students who fail one or more portions of the exam may petition to retake the exam before the next regularly scheduled exam period. Students who fail any part
of the comprehensive exam three times will have their status in the program automatically reviewed by the GAC, with dismissal from the program a possible outcome.
- Exam questions
are often historiographic and/or analytical and are not necessarily
restricted to topics that are covered in particular courses.
who pass the comprehensive examination must apply, in writing,
to the Graduate Secretary in order to receive their degree.
Examination (for Ph.D. students) in History at UIC
- The purpose
of the Ph.D. preliminary examination is to give students the opportunity
to demonstrate a superior understanding of four areas of historical
Exams consist of three written examinations, one in a major field
and two in minor fields. The two minor fields must
be distinct in time and/or space from the major field. Students wishing to take a minor field offered
by another department within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
must petition the Graduate Advisory Committee for approval.
- The History
Department administers preliminary examination twice a year, once
in the fall and once in the spring. The major field exam takes
five hours; the minor field tests take four hours each. Exams
are held during a single week, with each examination scheduled
on a different day. Exams are graded in one of three ways: pass
with distinction (for performance of outstanding merit), pass,
or fail. Preliminary exams are evaluated by committees appointed
by the Director of Graduate Studies. Ordinarily, the major field
test is evaluated by three faculty members and each of the minor
field tests by two faculty members.
who fail all or part of any portion of the preliminary examination,
may take that portion a total of three times. Students will be reexamined
only on those portions of the examination that they failed. Should
a student fail a minor field, the student may choose to be examined
again in a different minor field. The student may exercise this option only once. Students who fail
any portion of the exam will not be eligible for teaching assistantships.
Students who fail any part of the written exam three times will have their status in the program automatically reviewed by the GAC, with dismissal from the program a possible outcome. Students who fail one or more portions of the exam may petition to retake the exam before the next regularly scheduled exam period.