Comprehensive Exam

Following completion of the last semester of content-related course work (non-dissertation credits), the student must pass a major and minor area comprehensive exam. This exam is designed by the student’s Dissertation Committee under the direction of the Dissertation Committee Chair. This exam must be taken within five years of the admission date. The exam is administered based on the following:

  • The form of the written comprehensive exam shall be committee-driven. That is, it is up to each member of the committee to decide how he/she wishes the student to demonstrate content mastery. However, a minimum of one question should address each of the student’s major and minor areas of study as indicated in their approved program of study. Two to three questions must be solicited from each member of the committee. In the event that there is redundancy among the questions, the chair should request a replacement question(s) from the appropriate committee member(s). Should the committee members decide to do so, they may solicit questions from other graduate faculty members from whom the student has taken a class. Inclusion of any questions submitted by non-committee members is at the discretion of the committee.

The written comprehensive exam will be offered two times per year, following completion of the fall and spring semesters and may be completed off campus. After the committee chair has finalized the exam, it will be submitted to the Executive Associate Dean of Academics, who will release the exam to the student at a designated date and time. The student will have 48 hours from release to return the completed exam to the Executive Associate Dean of Academics within 48 hours. The Executive Associate Dean of Academics will disseminate the exam to the committee chair, who will distribute to committee members.

The grading system for the exam will be a satisfactory—unsatisfactory. Each committee member determines whether the student’s answers are satisfactory. The Executive Associate Dean of Academics will inform the student of any unsatisfactory answers that require a rewrite. The rewrite will follow the same procedure as the original exam. The rewrite will take place within two weeks of the unsatisfactory notification, following the same format as before.

Students who are not satisfactory after the rewrite will be placed on probation and will need to retake a comprehensive exam at the next available sitting. Students retaking the comprehensive exam the second time must be satisfactory on all questions. There is not a rewrite option for those failing the rewrite. Students who are not satisfactory on either attempt or do not meet the conditions of probation will be recommended for separation from the Ph.D. program to the Graduate College. The committee chair shall inform the the Executive Associate Dean of Academics of the student’s grade.