Masters Comprehensive Examination Policy

Effective Fall 2015

All students pursuing a master's degree at UNL are required to complete either a written comprehensive examination or an oral examination within 24 months of graduation. This requirement varies by the degree and specialization a student pursues as outlined below.

Students completing the MEd with an administrative endorsement (elementary or secondary principal, curriculum supervisor, special education supervisor)
Students completing the MEd with an administrative endorsement will fulfill the requirement by taking an examination in EDAD 811 Practicum during the semester they complete the practicum.  The examination is developed to help the student prepare for the Praxis II examination required for administrative endorsement by the Nebraska Department of Education.  Information on the examination will be distributed during the first class session of EDAD 811 each semester.

Students completing the on campus Student Affairs Administration program (MA option I or option III)
Students completing the on campus Student Affairs Administration program will fulfill this requirement by either completing an oral examination related to a thesis (option I) or submitting a written response to a case study (option III). The decision to complete this requirement under option I or III should be made in consultation with your advisor before the end of your first semester in the program. Individuals meeting the requirement by completing the case study (option III) will receive the case study during the first spring semester class meeting of EDAD 966 Student Affairs Seminar. The deadline to submit the case study will be the second Friday of February. Individuals completing the requirement through the thesis (option I) will present an oral defense and complete an oral examination of the thesis with a committee of three faculty members. Deadlines to successfully complete the oral examination are established by the Office of Graduate Studies and are published on the graduate studies web site at

Students completing the online MA with a higher education administration focus (and any other student not pursuing a P-12 administrative endorsement or not a member of the on-campus student affairs cohort)  
Students completing the online MA with a higher education administration focus will complete the comprehensive examination, also referred to as capstone paper, at the beginning of the semester in which you intend to graduate.  Students must apply to complete the capstone paper by emailing the department’s graduate secretary, Cindy DeRyke, at to inform her of your intent to take the comprehensive examination.  Shortly after notifying Cindy you will receive an email from your advisor with further information.  

If you plan to graduate in May or December, the deadline to apply for the capstone is the first Friday of the fall and spring semesters.

  • Please note:  If you plan to graduate in August, you are required to write the capstone paper during the spring semester.

 Your advisor will inform you of the capstone paper submission deadline.

The Master’s capstone paper is expected to integrate and synthesize knowledge gleaned during the Master’s degree program in response to a question provided by your advisor to include research, theory, and application to practice.

The capstone paper for the higher education administration focus will be evaluated by a committee of two faculty members and must adhere to the following specifications:

  1. The Master’s capstone paper may include references to course content and experiences such as projects, major course papers, and/or internships only in support of the question to be answered.
  2. All claims and arguments made by the student in the Master’s capstone paper must be supported and include reference citations using current APA guidelines.
  3. The Master’s capstone paper is expected to illustrate graduate level writing which includes correct spelling, grammar, sentence structure and subject/verb agreement.
  4. Papers should not exceed 15 pages double-spaced (including references), excluding a title page, with one-inch margins and a twelve point font. Students should provide their name only on the title page and include the question to be answered (as provided by your advisor) at the top of the first page.
  5. The capstone paper is to be an independent effort that reflects your personal learning as a graduate student in Educational Administration.


Revised by the Faculty March 2015