Comprehensive Examination


Students research and write responses to questions provided by committee members.

The comprehensive examination consists of written and oral testing by the student’s advisory committee. The primary purpose of the comprehensive examination is to assess the student’s understanding of the broad body of knowledge in a field of study. The examination also affords the comprehensive advisory committee an opportunity to review the student’s understanding of research methods and literature in the chosen field. The student will schedule separate written examinations with each advisory committee member. Each written examination will be evaluated by the committee member who provided the questions and graded as pass with distinction, pass, pass with stipulation, or failure. Committee members will convey the student’s results to the mentor and, together with the mentor, determine if the student is prepared to take the oral portion of the comprehensive exam.

The oral portion of the comprehensive examination should be conducted within two to four weeks after the successful completion of the written examinations. Each member of the advisory committee will vote to determine if the student has passed the exam. This determination will be based on the overall performance on both the written and oral portions of the exam. The student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree on successful completion of the comprehensive examination. If the comprehensive examination reveals deficiencies in any of these areas, the advisory committee may recommend remedial work or re-examination. Two or more votes to “fail” a student will constitute failure of the exam. Students who fail this examination may re-take their examinations no sooner than four months after, and within one year of the initial written comprehensive examinations. After two failures of the exam, either in its whole or part form, the student will not be allowed to continue in the doctoral program.