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Graduate Degree Information

Comprehensive Examination

Each department or college requiring a final comprehensive examination determines the content of the examination. Such examinations may be written or oral or both. A faculty committee shall represent the department in preparing questions, administering, and reading the examination. Through the comprehensive examination, the faculty provides an opportunity for the master's degree candidate to demonstrate analytic ability and knowledge of the discipline. Working with the department chair or dean of the college and the appropriate committee, the departmental graduate advisor usually assumes responsibility for scheduling the examinations and for selecting the other faculty members to participate.

Students may not enroll for courses in preparation for the comprehensive examination or take the comprehensive examination unless they have been advanced to candidacy for the master's degree or unless advancement to candidacy will occur in the semester in which the enrollment takes place.

During the first semester of residence, the graduate student should ascertain from the faculty advisor what preparation will be expected. Early in the final semester of study for the degree, the candidate should contact the departmental graduate advisor to make arrangements for taking the examination. The department or college will notify the Office of Enrollment Services whether the student has passed or failed the final comprehensive examination. A candidate who has failed will usually be allowed to take the final comprehensive examination a second time, and the departmental graduate advisor should be contacted for specific procedures for the second attempt. To award a candidate the master's degree for a particular semester, the results of the comprehensive examination must be reported to the Office of Enrollment Services prior to the end of the semester.