The comprehensive examination is developed by the Supervisory Committee in consultation with the student. This is normally scheduled after the student has completed doctoral coursework and prior to the initiation of doctoral research. The comprehensive examination is an intense professional development experience that requires the student to devote sufficient time and energy to its completion. The examination is designed to complement the student‘s unique plan of study and career goals. Consequently, the topics of the different sections of the examination will be unique to the student‘s plan of Doctoral study and areas of professional interest.
A variety of examination formats are possible. The examination format should give the student an opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking, to integrate and apply material, and to demonstrate professional skills. The process of determining the format of the comprehensive examination will be a joint endeavor, including input and discussion from all committee members versus the traditional Chair in charge of the strategy. The examination should include multiple parts, allowing the student to demonstrate both the breadth and depth of his/her knowledge and abilities to integrate and apply material in multiple formats.
Although no specific format is suggested, several examples of parts of the examination serve to illustrate the variety of options available, including:
- Written critique of one or several chapters of a complete dissertation;
- Literature review, measurable objectives, methodology and potential impact and outcomes for a grant RFP;
- Creation of brochure, slide-show, curricula, or other information dissemination device documenting knowledge comprehension as well as technological skills;
- Synthesis of research and direct service impacts, on specific topic, for policy advocacy or briefing at a legislative hearing;
- Written examination with questions designed to integrate knowledge obtained from doctoral course work;
- Preparation of a manuscript.
To schedule a written comprehensive examination, the student submits a request in writing to her/his Supervisory Committee Chair, four weeks before the scheduled exam.
The Supervisory Committee Chair will coordinate the grading of the comprehensive examination by the Supervisory Committee. Each member of the Supervisory Committee shall have opportunity to grade each question. Supervisory Committee members shall be permitted at least three weeks to report a grade. Supervisory Committee members shall report a grade of "pass", "fail," or "rewrite" for each question. The decision on the exam shall rest with the majority vote. A tie vote shall be considered a negative decision. The Supervisory Committee shall decide on procedures relative to "rewrites." Generally, a student can "rewrite" one or more questions; however, a "rewrite" on every question is a "fail" decision.