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American Politics Comprehensive Exam

Students who elect American Politics as a first or second field of study must take the American Politics Comprehensive Exam. The 24-hour, open-book exam is typically given in the Fall of the student’s third year of study.

Exam coverage

The exam will cover American Institutions and American Behavior.  The American politics faculty encourage students whose first field is American politics to consider taking the Methods comprehensive exam.

Exam length

Students will be given a range of questions from which they will have some choice.  Students will be required to answer 2-3 questions, with the expectation that a given student will answer at least one question on Institutions and at least one question on Behavior.  Each answer will likely have a suggested page length of 5-10 pages (double-spaced).

Oral exam content

An oral exam is required for all first-field American politics students (assuming the written exam is not a failure).  Its contents will not be limited to the written answers submitted by the student.  It may cover relevant implications from the written answers, other questions asked on the written exam but not necessarily answered by the student, or other important topics in American politics.  The parameters of the exam will be determined by the exam committee, which will be constituted later this summer. 

Oral exam question submission

Students are invited to submit 3 questions to the oral exam committee, at least a few days in advance of the oral exam.  The committee will choose at least 1 question to initiate the oral exam.  Such questions should be broad enough to showcase the student's analytic skills and knowledge of the literature, and would ideally be relevant for the student's independent research agenda.  We emphasize that students are not required to submit questions; it is optional.