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The Qualifying Field Exam: What Is It Good For?

  • Nicole McMahon (a1), Christopher Alcantara (a1) and Laura B. Stephenson (a1)

Abstract

Most political scientists self-identify as a comparativist, theorist, Americanist, or another label corresponding with the qualifying field exams (QFE) that they passed during their doctoral studies. Passing the QFE indicates that a graduate student or faculty member is broadly familiar with the full range of theories, approaches, and debates within a subfield or research theme. The value of the QFE as a form of certification, however, depends on the extent to which the subfield or theme is cohesive in and of itself as well as whether departmental lists draw on a common pool of publications. This article investigates the value of the QFE by examining the cohesiveness of 16 Canadian politics PhD QFE lists. Our findings suggest that it is problematic to assume that scholars who pass a QFE share a common knowledge base.

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References

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The Qualifying Field Exam: What Is It Good For?

  • Nicole McMahon (a1), Christopher Alcantara (a1) and Laura B. Stephenson (a1)

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