Prior to writing a dissertation prospectus, students must demonstrate scholarly excellence by passing two preparatory exams. These are based on comprehensive bibliographies created by the students in consultation with their advisors. Each exam is evaluated by two readers, only one of whom may read both exams. Ideally, readers are members of the student's committee or specialists appropriate for the exam. One exam might focus on the ethnographic area relevant to your dissertation project (e.g., China, Middle East, etc.) while the other could focus on the theoretical area most relevant to your research, although the exam topics and their precise scope will be determined in discussions between students and their advisors.
Exams may be taken in one of two ways: either as two, week-long (7 day) take-home exams, or as two, day-long, single-sitting exams. In either case, you are given a choice of questions, based on the bibliographies and student-proposed questions, although you will not see the exact exam questions prior to the beginning of the examination period. Each exam should entail answers amounting to about thirty pages (15 pages for each of two questions, 10 pages each for three).
Following this written portion, the ACE. examination process culminates in a one-hour comprehensive oral examination attended by at least three faculty, including the examination readers.
You are responsible for coordinating the scheduling of your exams with your readers. You should notify the Graduate Secretary at the beginning of the semester of the date you plan to take your exams and submit the form: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/anthropology/graduate/resources/forms/ACE_application.html at least one month before. Questions for the exam must be submitted by the First Reader to the Graduate Secretary the week before the scheduled exam. If you plan to take your exams during the summer months, you must make arrangements for the date with both the Graduate Secretary and your readers. The department will announce examinations periods each semester during which ACEs must be scheduled.
Three grades are possible: High Pass, Pass, and Fail. In the event of a Fail, students may be asked to retake the exam at a date determined by the readers. Failure in both exams may be grounds for dismissal from the program. Upon successful completion of the exams, the committee will recommend to the department to advance the student to Ph.D. candidacy. An M.Phil. degree will be granted if all requirements have been met (i.e., eight courses taken for credit, language requirement, no outstanding incompletes in courses taken). Students are not authorized to leave for the field to begin their dissertation research until they have fulfilled all the requirements necessary in order to receive the M.Phil. degree. See: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/pdf-files/master_phil_app.pdf
One to three 9000-level courses typically are used to prepare for the ACE. exams and/or the Dissertation Prospectus. The nature and amount of work for such directed courses will be determined in consultation with your advisor. You must file a special form with Graduate Secretary in order to register for 9000-level course.