General qualifying examinations are designed to evaluate a student's subject mastery, scholarly competence, and analytical ability. These examinations are tailored for each individual's particular academic and professional aspirations, theoretical and methodological needs, and field of research. They are designed to demonstrate students' abilities to place their own research into context.
Qualifying examinations should be taken no later than the first semester after the completion of all coursework requirements. A year before they are to be taken, the student meets with the Graduate Advisors in Art History and Latin American Studies to form the Examination Committee (see Committees, above). This committee determines the format of the exam, reviews and approves the reading lists compiled by the student, compiles the examination questions, and judges the responses. Ordinarily three of these four committee members later serve as the student's Dissertation Committee.
Once the Examination Committee is appointed, students prepare for the examinations by compiling professional bibliographies and critical reading lists in their primary and secondary concentrations. These bibliographies are reviewed in-depth with each committee examiner who will suggest modifications and additional readings as appropriate. The committee members will inform the students of the parameters and scope of their questions well in advance of the examination.
The specific format of the exam is to be determined by each Examination Committee. In general, examinations include three to six hour written examination/s for the primary areas of concentration (there can be two areas, e.g., pre-Columbian art and colonial art), and two to three hour written examinations in each of the secondary areas of concentration, with questions drawn from art history and other pertinent disciplines (e.g., archaeology, history). These written examinations are followed by an oral examination administered by the entire committee; the latter takes the form of an one-hour general discussion.
Qualifying examinations are administered during the regular academic year and must be completed within the space of one calendar month.