Preliminary Examination

In spring quarter of the first year, each student takes a written preliminary examination that is based on courses taken during the student’s first year. Exceptions require special authorization of the graduate advisor in consultation with the major professor.

The Evolutionary Wing preliminary exam is both evaluative and diagnostic. It enables students to demonstrate their mastery of significant expertise in the teaching and research traditions of evolutionary anthropology. It likewise presents an opportunity to identify areas of deficiency that need to be resolved before advancing to the Ph.D. program. Finally, it offers a convenient and honorable means for students who have decided against a Ph.D. to leave the program — with an M.A. degree if they are successful in the exam.

Exam content

The exam entails general and specialized components. It consists of one general evolutionary question, two questions from the student's primary concentration, and one question from the student's secondary concentration. In the general component each student is expected to show broad knowledge of evolutionary anthropology. In the specialized components, the student is expected to demonstrate more detailed knowledge of the primary area and secondary areas of concentration.

The preliminary exam is a test of a student's mastery of problems, theory, concepts, empirical studies and the literature at a level expected of a beginning research scientist. The five areas of emphasis in the Evolutionary Wing are Archaeology, Genetic Anthropology, Human Behavioral Ecology, Paleoanthropology and Primatology.

The Evolutionary Wing faculty evaluate the completed exams. Outcomes for this exam include: High Pass, Pass, Marginal Pass, and Fail. Marginal Pass generally requires follow-up coursework or submission of a research paper(s). Students may not repeat this exam. A student who fails the exam is subject to disqualification from the graduate program.