Comprehensive Examinations

As stated in the College of Business Administration Ph.D. Program Handbook, all candidates for the Ph.D. degree in the College of Business are required to take a comprehensive examination as part of their evaluation process. More detailed and most current policy pertaining to the Ph.D. program in general and the comprehensive examinations in particular can be found in the College’s Ph.D. Handbook. While comprehensive exams are required in the student’s area of concentration, there is no such requirement in the student’s minor.

  1. 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.

  2. Guidance to the Student

    At the minimum, students taking these examinations will be provided with both the title and the scope of the questions. The PhD handbook further recommends that each student contact the graduate faculty for guidelines in selecting reading materials for study. However, this does not imply that students be given a specific, or an exhaustive reading list. The current partial readings list can be found at

    These examinations are comprehensive, and any list, even if provided, should act only as a guideline to the type of material a student should be familiar with to do well in the examinations. Questions, as long as they conform to the scope, can come from outside any such list. Ultimately, the student is responsible and accountable for any relevant literature in their area of study.

  3. Grading and Evaluation of Comprehensive Examinations

    If the candidate passes most but not all of the questions, it will be at the discretion of the Comprehensive Examination Committee whether to require the student to retake only the parts failed or retake the entire examination. The student should register for BAD 70198 (Research) during the semester in which he or she wishes to retake the examination. A student may retake the entire exam a maximum of one time. Partial retakes will also be permitted a maximum of one time. If a second attempt proves unsuccessful, the student will be subject to dismissal.

    As with any other student complaint of an academic nature, students have the right of appeal of the result of their comprehensive examination if they feel that they have been disadvantaged by the process. The administrative policy and procedure for student academic complaints at the Kent campus may be found in the University Policy Register, Section 3342‑4‑02.3. Guidance to the adjudication of grievances of a nonacademic nature is provided in the University Policy Register, Section 3342-4-02.102.

    Students are encouraged to first try to reach a resolution of their complaint with the Department’s Graduate Program Coordinator. If the Coordinator is not able to reach resolution at this point, he/she may then petition the Chair who may request that the graduate committee of the Department convene as a Student Academic Complaint Committee, augmented by a student member appointed according to College procedure.  After hearing both the student and the Comprehensive Examination Committee, the Student Academic Complaint Committee will make a recommendation to the Chair for resolution of the issue.  If the grievance is not satisfactorily settled at the department level, the student may appeal to the Dean of the College of Business Administration, through the College of Business Ph.D. Director and Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs.

    Failure in procedural matters by the graduate faculty member, Comprehensive Examination Committee, or the Department shall not be sufficient cause for the awarding of a passing grade for the comprehensive examination or subsequently, the Ph.D. degree.