General Exam Instructions

Arrangement for the Ph.D. General Exams

  • First, determine the composition of your Supervisory Committee and/or your Reading Committee. You may include both Slavic Department faculty and faculty from other departments, but the majority of the members should be from Slavic. Furthermore, the majority of the faculty members should be Graduate Faculty, that is, faculty at the professorial level rather than lecturers. For example, you could have three professors and two lecturers on your committee. Similarly, you could have three Slavic Department faculty and two outside faculty on your committee. The minimum number of committee members is three; if you choose only three, then all should be faculty at the professorial level. The primary consideration when choosing the members of your committee is of course the areas you want to take your exams. You should select your committee members in consultation with your advisor.
  • Once the people you have chosen have agreed to serve on your committee, you need to choose a Graduate School Representative. To find a GSR, you should go to the web site and read the section with the rules as to who may or may not serve as your GSR. Then you will also need to visit to learn of your Committee Chair’s various appointments and be able to compare those to the appointments of whoever you are considering as a possible GSR. This site will also help you search for possible candidates via the “find by appointing department and/or scholarly interests” options. Please keep in mind that faculty with adjunct or affiliate appointments in the Slavic Department may serve on your Supervisory Committee, but are ineligible to serve as your GSR.
  • When you have received the concurrence of everyone that they are willing to serve on your committee, you need to advise the Graduate Program Assistant (Shosh) so that she can formally establish your committee using the MyGrad system.
  • Exam arrangements: you will be taking four written exams followed by an oral exam. You should discuss the timing of the written exams with your advisor. In general, they are supposed to be taken within a two-week period and can include both in-situ exams and take-home exams. For example, you could take a four-hour in-situ exam on a Friday. After taking it, you could pick up your next exam – a take-home exam – which would be returned on Monday morning by 9:00 a.m. The following weekend you could take a second take-home exam and the third weekend a third take-home exam. An example would be:

In-situ exam:    Friday, May 3, 2013
1st take-home exam:    Pick up May 3, 2013, return May 6, 2013
2nd take-home exam:    Pick up May 10, 2013, return May 13, 2013
3rd take-home exam:    Pick up May 17, 2013, return May 20, 2013

  • At the same time you are scheduling your written exams, you need to be thinking about the scheduling of your oral exam. This is actually one of the hardest parts, which is figuring out which time suits all the members of your committee, including your GSR. One tool which may make things easier is After you’ve found a time that is convenient for everyone, you will need to submit a Doctoral General Exam Request (
  • Please keep in mind that this form – with the signatures of all of your committee members – needs to be submitted at least three weeks before your exam, and that General Exams may not be scheduled during Exams Week. If it proves difficult to collect a member’s signature, it is also possible for you to attach an email from that person which states:

    “This is to confirm that I will attend the General Oral Exam for (name of student) on (date) at (time) in (room number).”