Qualifying Papers

Qualifying Papers

In each of the first two years in the Ph.D. program, students will submit for evaluation one paper that was written that year for a seminar or proseminar at Northwestern. This paper will undergo double-blind evaluation by a committee of two faculty members chosen by the Director of Graduate Studies, where the committee will not include the faculty member who taught the seminar for which the paper was originally written.

The seminar papers must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies by June 1st and will be evaluated with a rubric that is created by the Department to ensure consistency among the faculty members’ evaluations. The committee is confined to the grades of Pass or Fail. If the committee members disagree about the grades to be assigned and cannot resolve their disagreement, the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the Chair, will select another member of the Department to make the final determination.

In the Department’s annual review, the quality of this paper will receive special attention as an important component of a student’s overall record. Students who do not receive a passing grade may be asked to revise and improve the paper or to write a new and superior paper on a topic acceptable to the Department. Continuation in the program may depend on the quality of the revised paper. The Department may also require the student to take courses for a grade instead of pass/fail during the third year in order to improve his or her writing skills. Except in rare instances, students will be retained in the program at least until the second-year review.

All qualifying papers will receive written evaluations from the members of the committee who grade them. (These may take the form of comments written in the margins or at the end of the paper.) A passing grade for the second-year qualifying paper will count as satisfying TGS’s Qualifying Exam requirement.