Saint Louis University

Field Exam

All students in the Political Science M.A. program must sit for a field exam during their last semester of coursework. The field exams will be scheduled for early each semester. All students must pass the written portion of the exam. An additional oral exam will be required at the discretion of the exam committee.

Field exams will be administered by a chair and two other committee members. The director must be in the student's examination field, and ordinarily the two committee members will be in the same field as well. Students should choose committee members with the advice of the committee chair. If two members of the committee consider that the student has passed the field exam, then a passing grade is warranted.

The field exam will have two parts. During the first 3-hour segment, students will choose one question to answer from a list of questions drawn from key debates in the literature of the student's concentration or track. During the second 3-hour segment, students will choose one question to answer from a list provided by the exam committee.

Students may have access to notes and other sources during the field exam, but they are unlikely to do well on the exam if they rely heavily on those notes during the limited time of the exam. Instead, students should plan from their first courses effective strategies to retain and integrate the information learned in all their classes. Students should be prepared to engage explicitly with the relevant scholarly literature during their field exams.

Preparing for the field exam

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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