Comprehensive exams are taken in November or May of PhD 3.
- End of your first year: Finalize dissertation field with your supervisor.
- Semester before comprehensives:
- Develop a comprehensive dissertation bibliography in consultation with committee members to be finalized 5 months before the written exam date.
- May 1 or November 1: Notify graduatestudies.music [at] mcgill.ca of your intent to take the exams.
- Consists of questions exploring the historical, practical and theoretical aspects of the proposed dissertation research topic. Questions are intended to develop a broad, multidisciplinary perspective on your topic and answers could form the basis for the background portions (i.e., related literature) of the PhD dissertation.
- The exam is written over a three month period, from the start of the semester. Anticipated length for each question is 5-20 pages (typed, double-spaced, 11-pt); total: 40-60 pages (not including References).
- Duration: Two to three hours.
- Timeline: Typically takes place two weeks after the written examination.
- Scope: Opportunity to elaborate, correct and enhance essay answers through questions posed by the committee. Other questions based on related topics may assess breadth of domain-specific knowledge.
Begin preparing as early as possible, using placement exams to determine where to put special effort.
Preparation should include:
- Weekly meetings with supervisors
- Preparing and defending mock questions
- Collaborating with other Area students who have completed, or are preparing for, their comprehensives.
The Examination Committee consists of:
- Three full-time staff members from the candidate's area of specialization
- One member from a different area within the Department or McGill as relevant to the thesis research area
- The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in Music, or an appointed representative, serves as Chair.