Ph.D. Reading List and Exams

Excerpted from the Department's Ph.D. Guidelines

The Ph.D. Degree Reading List:

  • The Ph.D. reading list is developed in consultation with the student’s Ph.D. supervisory committee: it includes: (1) the departmental M.A. language and literature core reading list, and 2) a three-part reading list on which the three written examinations will be based (see “General Examination” below).
  • The relevant works on the departmental M.A. reading list will be incorporated into the three-part Ph.D. reading list. The student is responsible for developing the reading list, as part of the training, to be approved by the committee no later than four months prior to the date of the General Examination. (Candidates opting for a philology or linguistics emphasis should plan their reading list with their supervisory committee and have it approved by the Graduate Faculty).

The General Examination for the Ph.D. Degree

  • The three-part reading list serves as the basis for three six-hour field exams. At least two of the three fields should be directly relevant to the student’s proposed dissertation project. At least two of the fields should be defined as literary, and each such field could consist of a genre, one or more periods, a significant theme in Scandinavian literature, or the literature of a Scandinavian country. Baltic literature may be included. The third field may likewise be literary, but it may also be chosen with a great deal of freedom. An alternative field may be substituted in place of the second literary field.
  • Prior to the beginning of the general examination, the student will develop a pre-dissertation paper that will be presented to a colloquium to which faculty, graduate students and interested others will be invited. This colloquium paper will be prepared in conjunction with the student’s dissertation proposal.
  • The general examination is in two parts, written and oral. The written examinations, which are six hours each and administered over three exam days, cover the reading lists for the three fields described above. On each exam day the student receives three questions, two of which are to be answered. The oral examination, which follows the written exam, is two hours in length. It covers the written exam essays, the student’s reading list, and a dissertation proposal prepared and approved prior to the beginning of the General Examination.


Ph.D. dissertation approval and a reading schedule must be arranged with the supervisory committee.

Revised: 7/1/08