The Preliminary Review

The Preliminary Review is intended for assessment and advising purposes. It gives both the student and faculty an opportunity to assess the student’s academic preparation in advance of the General Examination. It includes a review of the student’s familiarity with the literatures central to the fields in which she/he wishes to demonstrate competence on the General Examination. It also helps the preliminary committee to articulate the most effective curriculum to help the student prepare for the General Examination and to acquire the necessary methodological skills for successful dissertation research and writing.

Although the exact nature of the Preliminary Review is left to the committee’s discretion, it will include a written and oral component.

The written component might consist of questions administered in a fashion analogous to the General Examination. It might consist of an extended outline of the student’s educational goals, description of progress to date, and an overview of the areas of sub-disciplinary expertise that the student wishes to attain, complete with relevant bibliographies.

The oral component, which commonly lasts 1-2 hours, offers the preliminary committee an opportunity to assess the student’s familiarity with relevant literatures and to discuss a course of action leading to the General Examination.

At the conclusion of a successful Preliminary Review, students will commonly be advised to formally constitute a Supervisory Committee and to set a tentative date for the General Examination.  If the committee possesses concerns about the student’s level of preparation, it may request a second Preliminary Review.  If this occurs, the student will be provided a written explanation of the committee’s concerns and a set of expected actions to undertake prior to a second Review.

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