Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations

A. Comprehensive Examinations

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to determine the candidate's preparedness to implement dissertation research.

  1. The Comprehensive Examination will be scheduled in consultation with the student and adviser by the Program Secretary at least two weeks before the examination will take place.
  2. The Comprehensive Examination is oral and consists of a defense of the written proposal for a dissertation. The defense will include a 10 (minimum) to 15 (maximum) minute oral overview of the proposal and detailed responses to the questions about (a) the theoretical, empirical, and methodological bases for the study; (b) the potential contribution of the study, and (c) the methodology proposed in the study. While different faculty have different approaches to advising students during the preparation of a proposal, a dissertation adviser may not provide more help than provided in the second competency paper. The dissertation adviser shall not defend the proposal.
  3. A favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the committee is required for passing.
  4. The Report on the Comprehensive Examination will be signed by each committee member and returned to the Program Secretary. A copy of the form will be placed in the department file and the originals forwarded to The Graduate School.

B. Final Oral Comprehensive

The purpose of the final oral comprehensive is to determine that the candidate has completed the dissertation satisfactorily and is able to orally explain and defend the effort.

  1. The Final Oral Comprehensive will be scheduled at least two weeks before the examination and evaluated by the entire doctoral committee. Normally the final oral examination may not be scheduled until at least three months have elapsed after the comprehensive examination was passed. Both the thesis adviser and the student are responsible for ensuring the completion of a draft of the thesis well in advance of the oral examination. Major revisions to the thesis should be completed before this examination. The dissertation should be in its final draft, with appropriate notes, bibliography, tables, etc. at the time of the oral examination; both the content and style should be correct and polished by the time this final draft of the thesis is in the hands of the committee.
  2. The final examination of the doctoral candidate is administered and evaluated by the entire doctoral committee. It consists of an oral presentation of the thesis by the candidate and a period of questions and responses. Final exams are public and may be attended by anyone.
  3. A favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the committee is required for passing. Everyone signs The Graduate School form, and it is returned to The Graduate School by the Program Secretary.