MA Oral Exam to Compete for Honors


The MA Oral Exam tests students' knowledge of international economics and their chosen functional or regional concentration. Exams are held in August, December and May and are scheduled by the Registrar's Office. Only the top 30 percent of the student body are eligible to compete for honors. The 30 percent cutoff is determined by students' GPAs after their third semester (after the second semester for students who have advanced standing of one semester). Students with conferral dates of August or December will be selected to compete for honors based on the previous May's GPA cutoff. Two examiners administer the oral exam: a full- or part-time professor from the student's functional or regional program, and an international economist from the faculty or from the local academic, government or policy community. If a student is pursuing a third concentration, three examiners will administer the oral exam.

Oral Exam Procedures
Students may not request specific faculty members for their oral examination nor can they request a specific day or time for the exam. Students need to be available during the dates set aside for oral exams. Any unavoidable conflicts should be discussed with the Registrar's Office early in the semester. The examination lasts approximately 50 to 60 minutes.

The initial topic of discussion will be chosen by the student and should attempt to involve an issue from their regional or functional area that also incorporates economic concepts. A short description of this topic (not to exceed one page or 350 words) must be written in advance of the oral exam and provided to each examiner at the beginning of the exam. The student is not allowed to hold a copy of this summary or any other materials during the exam. The examiners may ask for a brief, no more than five minute, introduction to the topic at the beginning of the exam to serve as the discussion for the first part of the exam. The examiners will use the remainder of the exam to ask the student questions; there should be a mostly balanced flow of questions from both examiners. The discussion will seek to apply broader concepts to real-world situations in an interdisciplinary and conversational manner. Economics questions draw primarily on the application of concepts covered in foundation economics courses (Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade and International Monetary), but can also cover issues from the student's electives. Students should consult their regional or functional programs for details on potential discussion topics.

Grading of Oral Exams
Each examiner provides a grade for the oral exam. The student's overall grade is the average of the examiners' grades. The exam is graded on a four-point scale: 4-Excellent; 3-Very Good; 2-Good; 1-Pass; 0-Fail. Examiners grade separately and the grade is averaged. If a student averages a 0 grade and fails, s/he must meet the requirement of an approved capstone option from his or her concentration. If students are unable to meet another capstone option, they must be retested and pass the Oral in order to graduate. Only the top 10 percent of the graduating class may receive honors.