Comprehensive Exams

MF100_1418A candidates take comprehensive exams toward the beginning of their fourth semester (typically early- or mid-February for second-year students). The exams consist of two three-hour sessions, in which students write short essays assessing the craft, forms, and techniques of certain literary texts. In the exams, students should demonstrate a solid base of knowledge in their chosen genre. MFA faculty update the reading lists every two to three years.

Students are encouraged to begin reading for their exams when they first begin the MFA program. In some cases, literature and forms courses will assign books from the reading list as part of the curriculum. Thesis advisors will also provide students with additional support about their individualized reading lists (five additional texts of the students’ own choosing). The exam dates below refer to the year in which they’re taken; for instance, if you entered the program in Fall 2021, you will take your exams in Spring 2023 and should study from the 2023–24 document in your genre. The second set of reading lists is provided only for archival purposes.

Reading lists for 2023–24 examination periods:

Former reading lists: