Composition of Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive examinations pertain to areas of knowledge rather than specific courses. The materials covered, number and format of questions, and other such details are determined by the graduate faculty in the area developing the exam. It is strongly recommended that the student consult with the Area Coordinator well in advance (at least two months) of the comprehensive exam date, so that the Coordinator can direct the student to appropriate graduate faculty members for guidance in selecting reading materials for study.

The writing and grading of Ph.D. comprehensive examinations are restricted to the graduate faculty members. Any or all members of the graduate faculty in the student’s area of concentration may be called upon by the Coordinator to participate in the Ph.D. examinations process. Thus, the student should not expect only those professors from whom coursework has been taken to participate in the writing and/or grading of the comprehensive exam.

The Ph.D. Coordinator requests questions from selected graduate faculty who teach in the area which the student has specified as his/her area of concentration.  The faculty submit their questions to the Ph.D. Coordinator, who compiles them and works with the Comprehensive Examination committee to create the comprehensive exam for the student. 

The Comprehensive Examination Committee is composed of graduate faculty in the Department, and is appointed by the Ph.D. Coordinator.  This committee reviews all questions submitted by the graduate faculty and selects a set of questions which comprehensively examines the student in the area of concentration.  The concentration exam should be designed not to require more than eight hours over two consecutive working days to complete while each minor exam should not exceed four hours over one day.