Attn: Doctoral Students!

In the last week, there have been some important changes to the D.A. program with the foreign language requirement and the comprehensive exams.

Beginning in the spring semester, students will now be able to take a translation exam that will be administered by English faculty. This exam replaces the ETS exams, which are no longer offered by St. John’s. The translation exam will ask you to translate about 500 words of prose in an hour. You will be permitted to consult a dictionary. The languages that will be offered are French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish.

The options for fulfilling the foreign language requirement will be:

Prior to taking their comprehensive exams, all doctoral students must demonstrate reading proficiency in a foreign language by one of the following:
1) a grade of “B” or better in an advanced college-level language class that requires reading proficiency in the language (3000-level or above at St. John’s, or the equivalent at another college or university, with the approval of the graduate program director); or
2) successful completely of a two-semester reading course offered by the Department of Langauges and Literatures at St. John’s (or the equivalent at another college or university, with the approval of the graduate program director); or
3) satisfactory results on the translation exam administered by the English Department. Translation exams are currently offered in French, German, Latin, Italian, and Spanish.

The other change for D.A. students will be in the comprehensive exam format. The new format, an oral comprehensive exam, will be required for all doctoral students who enter the program during the Fall 2012 semester or later. All current D.A. students have the option of taking either the written comprehensive exams or the new oral exam.

Comprehensive exam preparation remains the same whether you select the written or oral exam format. See the English Department D.A. web page for more details on the procedure. If you elect the oral exam format, you will arrange to meet with your three mentors together, who will ask you questions about each of the three subject areas you have selected. The oral exam will take approximately two hours, with each professor asking specific questions about the subject area he or she has mentored. To pass the exam, you will need to demonstrate expertise in all three areas. As with the written exam option, if you fail one ore more areas of the exam, you will be allowed to retake the exam the following semester.

The oral exam is a more efficient comprehensive exam format, and we believe that it will give us a better indication of your subject area expertise and preparation for dissertation research. It is also a more practical format in that it will better prepare you for job interviews or other situations that require oral explanation of your professional qualifications.

If you have questions about these changes, please contact Dr. John Lowney.

About Steve Mentz 1262 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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