Qualifying Exam

Children’s and Young Adult Literature Doctoral Qualifying Exam

UntitledNew in 2016, Western Michigan University offers doctoral students the opportunity to take a qualifying exam in children’s literature, selected as one of three exam areas.  Given the sustained interest in children’s and YA literature at WMU, the children’s literature qualifying examination area has been added to the wealth of exam opportunities Western Michigan University offers,  enabling an average of 2-3 students per year to develop a thorough understanding of the field and to fulfill their dissertation and career objectives.  Depending on their focus of study, students can also choose related exam areas, such as Comics Studies, Victorian Literature, Literary Theory, The Theory and Practice of Teaching English, or one of 14 other areas ranging in period and topical specializations.

For more information on the reading list for the Children’s Literature Examination, please click the following link:  Children’s and YA Literature Comprehensive Exam Reading List

The Children’s and YA Literature Examination Structure

As the reading list indicates, candidates are required to master representative texts from three centuries of children’s and YA literature and are required to gain an understanding of the multiple genres and contemporary critical approaches that are emphasized in the field.

The Children’s and YA Literature qualifying examination will consist of 4 questions, and candidates would answer 2 during their 4-hour examination period.

Support in Taking the Children’s and YA Literature Examination

Students who elect to take the children’s and YA literature examination will have abundant faculty support in order to pursue this challenging field of study and build the necessary expertise to succeed in the examination. This preparation can include individual mentorship from children’s literature faculty, independent study opportunities, and other one-on-one faculty support systems to ensure student success.

To support this close faculty-student relationship, a doctoral candidate must first gain the permission of the examination committee and the Graduate Director or advisor in order to take the qualifying examination in Children’s and YA literature. The exam is intended primarily for those candidates who plan to write a dissertation in children’s and YA literature or who are pursing an English education doctoral concentration.

Such student populations pair individual exam study preparation with children’s literature course work, often begun during their undergraduate and master’s degree careers, and supplemented by taking ENGL 5820 or ENGL 5830.  Students taking the exam often also take 2 or more practicum courses in children’s literature, an opportunity that enriches their understanding of the field and promotes their exposure to many of the core primary and secondary texts that are on the examination list. Moreover, most of these individuals have usually taught children’s and YA literature, either in the K-12 classroom or at the 3000-level here in the department of English.  This combined faculty-supported independent study, teaching experience, and classwork prepares students not only to succeed in the qualifying exam, but also build necessary expertise to continue in the field of children’s literature productively in the future.

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