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Comprehensive exam

Some programs require a comprehensive examination. The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to evaluate the student’s mastery of the field(s) of study. The method and procedure for examination must be specified on the student’s program of study. The comprehensive exam may not be scheduled prior to the student’s final semester of coursework. The application for the comprehensive exam must be submitted by the student through the Registrar’s Office by the published due date.

The academic department prepares and grades the comprehensive exam. The Office of Graduate Studies notifies students, administers the exam, forwards the completed exams to the academic department for evaluation and grading, and informs exam takers of the results.

The result of the comprehensive examination will be one of the following:

  • PASS with a recommendation that the candidate be cleared to receive the degree.
  • FAIL stipulating the conditions that must be met before the candidate is eligible to take the exam the second time. The comprehensive exam may not be taken more than two times. A review period of not less than 90 days nor more than one year after the student is notified of the results of the first examination is required before a second exam may be completed. The Faculty Advisor or Department Chair may impose conditions for a second exam.
  • FAIL with a recommendation that the candidate be dismissed from the program.

Comprehensive Exam Checklist


  • Obtain a Comprehensive Exam Application from the Office of Graduate Studies or download a copy at Graduation/Comprehensive Exam Application       Submit a completed Comprehensive Exam Application, including Advisor signature, to the Office of Graduate Studies by the following deadlines: December Graduation – May 1st, May Graduation – October 1st, August Graduation – February  1st.  Payment can be made by faxing the credit card form, with cash at the business office, or by sending in a check/money
  • Make appointment to meet with Graduate Faculty Advisor and Committee members to prepare for the Comprehensive Exam.
  • Graduate Office will complete degree audit and inform student of clearance for Comprehensive Exam.
  • The Office of Graduate Studies will mail official Comprehensive Examination results to you two weeks after exam.




· Get plenty of rest the night before.

· Practice writing answers to questions from your textbooks.

· Remember to review the literature in the areas tested.  You must back-up your argument with relevant literature and expert testimony.

· Analyze the question by underlining the nouns and double underlining the verbs.

   If you are asked to explain, then explain; if analyze, then analyze.

· Make a map/outline of the answer; then write your essay.

· To write a logical, coherent essay:

1.       Tell what you’re going to say (introduction)

2.       Give supporting evidence (body)

3.       Tell what you have said (conclusion)

If you have questions, call the Office of Graduate Studies at 956-882-6552 or your advisor.

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