Who is Required to Take Comprehensive Examinations?
A written comprehensive examination is required of all candidates for Master’s and Doctoral degrees with the exception of the following:
Master of Arts in Teaching
Master of Business Administration
Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership
Master of Occupational Therapy
Master of Public Administration
Master of Science in Nursing
Some thesis-based Master’s programs may not require comprehensive exams. Comprehensive Exams must be taken and passed before thesis defense and submission to the Graduate School.
What is Covered in the Comprehensive Examination
The comprehensive examination will cover the major area and minor or related areas. The candidate must pass both areas. The student must have completed all courses shown on the approved degree plan or be currently enrolled in them. All I grades, excluding graduate recital, graduate research, thesis, field study, or dissertation must be completed at the time the candidate takes the written comprehensive examination. The written and oral comprehensive examinations should be scheduled within the testing dates given in the university calendar. These dates do not apply to the oral examination given as the field study, thesis, or dissertation defense. The director of the Graduate School must be notified in writing of any requested exceptions.
The Written Examination
The written comprehensive examination for all candidates will be constructed and administered by the candidate’s graduate advisory committee or the program or school committee as determined by individual programs and schools. After all examinations have been scored and recorded, the questions and answers are to remain in the academic unit office. The major professor will report the candidate’s performance on the comprehensive examination as satisfactory or unsatisfactory to the director of the Graduate school. This report will be made in writing and must contain the specific parts of the examination covered, e.g., major only, minor or related areas only, major and minor, and whether an oral examination was also given. The major professor will notify the candidate of the results of the comprehensive examination as soon as possible. At the conclusion of each semester, the respective department or school may forward to the University Library copies of the student’s examination for deposit in the reference section, or house the copies within the department for 10 years. A candidate majoring in education whose minor area is in related fields will have the comprehensive examination assembled from appropriate sources, constructed, and administered by the appropriate program or school. When nine or more hours in the minor or related areas are from a single college or school, the graduate coordinator in that college or school is responsible for coordinating that portion of the examination and reporting the results to the graduate coordinator of the School of Education and the director of the Graduate School.
When the candidate is majoring in a subject matter field and minoring in education, it is the responsibility of the graduate coordinator of the school representing the major field to coordinate that portion of the examination and report the results to the graduate coordinator in the School of Education and the director of the Graduate School.
The candidate must pass both the major and the minor or related areas of the written comprehensive examination. If the candidate passes one portion and fails the other, only that portion which was failed must be repeated. No one will be permitted to take any portion of the comprehensive examination more than three times. Many programs, schools, and colleges establish additional requirements for their students. Accordingly, students may be dismissed from their programs for failure to meet program, school, or college standards. Such requirements are included in individual program descriptions in this catalog and/or in schools and program manuals or policy statements. These special requirements shall not be considered in conflict with this catalog and shall have the same force as this catalog. Program suspension (dismissal) from a degree program also results in suspension from the Graduate School.
The Oral Examination
An oral examination will be required of all candidates for advanced degrees who submit a field study, thesis, or dissertation. An oral examination may be required of other candidates for advanced degrees as determined by each department or school. The oral examination will be taken only after the candidate has satisfactorily completed the written comprehensive examination. Copies of the field study, thesis, or dissertation must be submitted to the candidate’s graduate advisory committee at least five days before the oral examination. The oral examination is the responsibility of the candidate’s graduate advisory committee and the examining committee, who may invite other faculty members and administrators to participate in an ex officio capacity. The candidate’s major professor will report the candidate’s performance on the oral examination as satisfactory or unsatisfactory to the director of the Graduate School. This report must be made in writing. When the oral examination is the thesis, field study, or dissertation defense, this reporting requirement will be satisfied by the graduate advisory committee’s approval of the field study, thesis, or dissertation.
Retaking Comprehensive Examinations
If the candidate’s performance on the major area, minor or related areas, or oral examination is deemed unsatisfactory by the major professor, the candidate must wait until the next comprehensive examination period to apply to retake any or all of the comprehensive examination.
The candidate is advised to confer with the graduate advisory committee and the appropriate graduate coordinator for their program regarding procedures and structure of the comprehensive examination.
- The major professor and graduate student discuss the dates of the comprehensive exam during the first two weeks of the student’s final semester. Doctoral students need to check their specific program timelines. The procedure outlined below will remain the same for all students taking comprehensive exams.
- The major professor informs the Program Graduate Coordinator of his/her graduate student’s intent to take the comprehensive exam
- The Graduate Program Coordinator verifies the eligibility of the student to take the comprehensive exam
To be eligible to take the written comprehensive exams, a candidate
1. must have completed all coursework listed in the student’s degree plan or be enrolled in all courses listed on the student’s degree plan
2. have no pending ‘I’ grades (excluding graduate recital, field study, thesis and dissertation hours)
3. have a GPA of 3.0 at the time of taking the comprehensive exams
4. must be currently enrolled in a minimum of one graduate credit hour of coursework
The major professor contacts the student’s committee members for comprehensive exam questions. OR a Program Committee prepares a common comprehensive exam
- The comprehensive exam is proctored by the major professor or his/her designee. In the case of online exams, students locate a suitable testing site with a proctor such as a school or a library, acceptable to the Program. The proctors must not have a personal or close working relationship with the students. Please contact your individual program for acceptable sites and proctors. A written approval of the proctor arrangement from the Director of the Graduate School or the graduate coordinator is required of all online students.
- Individual Committee members inform the major professor of the student’s performance on their respective sections of the exam OR a committee on which the major professor serves evaluates the student’s exam.
- The Major Professor notifies the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Graduate School of the result of the examination as ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’, The Graduate Program informs the student of the outcome of the comprehensive exam within ten days of the published exam date for the semester. In case of circumstances that will delay the communication of the result to the student, the major professor notifies the student of the reason for the delay and sets a new expected result date. A copy of this communication is sent to the Graduate School.
- A student who fails the comprehensive exam or a part of the exam three times is removed from the program.