College of Arts and Sciences

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive Examination

 At the end of your program, you are required to take comprehensive examinations, unless you have exceptional circumstances. You are given one week to complete the six questions which cover content from six graduate level communication courses you have taken for your degree.

Comprehensive examinations will be routine. Under exceptional circumstances, your advising committee may exempt you from taking a comprehensive examination. Students interested in this exception should be well aware that it can take from a couple of months to a year to receive notice of acceptance/rejection for a conference or publication. If this is a goal, start early!

The circumstances shall include the following:

  • Achieving A's in all graduate courses (if you meet the other two criteria regarding conference paper/publication and synthesis paper and have all A's in courses up to your last semester, you are exempt from examination even if you are taking courses that semester)
  • Having your synthesis paper approved by the deadline for that semester
  • Either having a single authored competitive paper published in a regional or national scholarly journal; or, having a completed single authored competitive paper accepted for a conference presentation where the paper is submitted before a regional or national scholarly meeting (having an abstract accepted in lieue of a completed paper does not qualify)

The required six (6) questions will be allotted one full week for completion. Test questions will be determined in consultation with your advising committee chair and consist of:

  • One (1) question from COM 582 Descriptive/Experimental Research in Communication, COM 584 Historical/Critical Research in Communication, or COM 584 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
  • Two (2) questions from the core theory courses.
  • Three (3) additional questions taken from all remaining courses (including the remaining core theory courses) in the candidate's program of study.

Examinations begin 9 AM on the first Monday in November in fall semester and the first Monday in April in spring semester of each academic year. The chair of your advising committee will be responsible for making the questions available to you. You can complete the examination off campus. You are expected to complete the examination without any assistance from any other person. You have one (1) week to complete the examination. You must return all examination answers to your committee chair no later than 12 PM noon on the second Monday in November for fall semester, or the second Monday in April for spring semester.

Typically, evaluations are done in the following manner:

  • The chair of your advising committee will request one (1) original question from the instructor of the six courses examined.
  • The instructor who composed the question shall evaluate the answer. The instructor will report to your advising committee if you passed or failed the question.
  • Successful completion of five (5) of the six (6) questions on the exam shall constitute passing the examination.
  • If an answer is judged as unacceptable, the instructor will be required to offer an explanation of the inadequacies in writing to the committee.
    • If you are unsuccessful in your answer, you may take that portion of the test again. It is up to the instructor who wrote that question to determine the form of the retake.
    • You may retake portions of the examination twice within a year following your initial exam.
    • If you have not successfully completed the examination after the second rewrite, you will be dismissed from the program.
    • Your advising committee will meet with you to discuss strengths and weaknesses of your answers on the examination.
  • The advising committee shall judge the successful or unsuccessful completion of the examination.
  • The chair of your advising committee shall report the results of the examination to the graduate studies director.