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Capstone Experience committee

The Comprehensive Examination is a formal assessment of mastery designed to appraise the student’s competence in the academic discipline.  This requirement is a capstone experience required to complete his or her program of graduate study for the graduate degree.

The format of this assessment is at the discretion of the graduate program, provided it fairly and adequately documents the knowledge and skills the student has acquired. The content of the comprehensive exam should accurately reflect the content of the student’s academic program.  The exam should require the integration and synthesis of what has been learned by the student.  The student must demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in the discipline and depth in specific content areas to be determined by the graduate program faculty.  

At least four hours should be planned for the examination.  If the timeframe planned for the examination is greater, a lunch break should be planned.  In such a case, the examination document should be segmented so that all questions addressed in the first segment before break will be completed prior to the break and students will receive the questions for the second segment only after they return from the break. 

The examination should be a professional draft, providing clear and precise instructions as appropriate.  For example:

  • Write a logical, coherent response providing evidence from the literature to support your argument.
  • You have 2 hours to respond to the first part and 2 hours for the second.
  • Write legibly

The examination may be taken by computer or may be hand written. If the examination is to be handwritten by the student, students will be provided with writing tablets and pencils to complete their examinations.

Comprehensive Examination Committee

 The comprehensive examination is developed, administered, and evaluated under the guidance of a comprehensive examination committee.  Each comprehensive examination committee must consist of at least three graduate faculty members with the background and interest necessary to evaluate the mastery of the student. The three members of the comprehensive exam committee must evaluate and grade all of the exams --- it is not appropriate to split the grading between faculty members.  The comprehensive exam committee should meet as a group to discuss the evaluation and grading of each exam.  The purpose of this assessment is not only to determine whether the student has mastered the discipline but also to provide an opportunity for the graduate faculty to measure the effectiveness of the program curriculum.

Comprehensive Examination Failure

In the event a student fails the comprehensive examination, the student may request a Re-examination must be scheduled within one year of the original comprehensive examination and within the seven-year period for completion of the degree.  The Graduate Faculty Advisor should advise the student in appropriate preparation for re-examination, including the possible need to retake certain courses in preparation for the re-examination.  Only one re-examination is allowed. If a student fails the second comprehensive examination, his or her graduate program will be terminated.

Pre-examination Proces

  • The Graduate Office receives the Graduate Application Form signed by the graduate student and the Graduate Faculty Advisor. 
  • The Graduate Faculty Advisor organizes the Comprehensive Examination Committee. 
  • The Committee meets with the student(s) to guide them in the preparation of the exam.  
  • The Committee meets to prepare the exam. 
  • The Graduate Office clears the graduate student to take the Comprehensive Examination.
  • The exam is forwarded to the College/School Dean’s Office one week prior to the examination day. 
  • The College/School Dean’s Office determines the location for the exam.
  • Department Chairs arrange for faculty to administer the exam.   

Post-examination Process

  • The Faculty administering the comprehensive exams will secure the completed examinations and    deliver them to the Graduate Faculty Advisor. 
  • The Comprehensive Examination Committee members will grade the exams and meet to discuss the results and determine whether the examination is a pass or a fail. 
  • The Comprehensive Examination Results Form will be forwarded to the College/School Dean’s Office. 
  • The College/School Dean’s Office will forward the Comprehensive Examination Results Form to the Graduate Office. 
  • The Graduate Office officially notifies the student of their results.
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