The intent of the comprehensive examination process is to allow a student to demonstrate mastery of subject matter and research skills within the the content and related emphasis areas specified in the Program of Study Planning Document. The examination cannot be waived, but it can be tailored to the special needs of individual students.
Students must successfully complete their comprehensive examinations to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Students typically take the comprehensive examination upon or near completion of the academic coursework requirements for their program. This typically occurs prior to initiating work on a dissertation project, although a student may begin some dissertation work prior to completing the comprehensive examination if so approved by the Supervisory Committee.
In all cases, the student works with his/her Supervisory Committee Chair to specify in writing a plan for the comprehensive examination and has it approved by the Supervisory Committee before initiation of the process.
The members of a Supervisory Committee will read and evaluate a student’s written comprehensive examination products. A student must PASS all parts of the written comprehensive exam to be admitted to candidacy. An oral examination is not required as part of the comprehensive examination process; however, if the student does not complete the written examination successfully, the Committee can choose to administer an oral examination limited to the specific portion of the written examination not successfully completed. Alternately, the Committee can require the student to rewrite the failed portion(s) of the examination. The earliest a second oral or written comprehensive examination opportunity will occur is the academic term or summer following the failed attempt. Failure to pass on the second attempt results in automatic review of the student's performance with the possibility of program termination.
The comprehensive examination process differs for students earning degrees in Educational Sciences versus Human Sciences. Each is outlined separately in the following sections. The final form, content, and duration of the examination is negotiable between the student and his/her Supervisory Committee.
Exam Process for Ph.D. Students in Educational Studies
Students earning a Ph.D. in Educational Studies with an emphasis in Special Education may, at the discretion of their Supervisory Committee, complete (a) a conventional on-campus or take-home written examination and/or (b) three different “projects” stemming from Ph.D. coursework and/or research experiences in which the student had a primary responsibility/role. Either option should be designed to assess the student's ability to conduct independent research during the dissertation and upon graduation. For the conventional exam, a student's responses to examination questions must provide evidence of proficiency in specific content areas and evidence of the integration of information across multiple areas through generation of newly conceived projects or papers. For the latter option, examples of possible written products include: (a) a substantial literature review, (b) a teaching portfolio, (c) a program or policy evaluation, (d) a submission-ready grant proposal for a dissertation study or a comparable project, (e) results of a pilot research study, and (f) a publishable manuscript with the student as lead author. Fewer than three projects may be acceptable if products are viewed by the Committee as reflective of specified competencies and a readiness for doing independent research. If judged satisfactory (PASS) by the Committee, these products constitute completion of part or all of the comprehensive examination for the student’s Ph.D. degree.
Exam Process for Ph.D. Students in Human Sciences
Students earning a Ph.D. in Human Sciences with an emphasis in Audiology and Hearing Sciences or Communication Disorders take a conventional on-campus or take-home examination over a one- to four-week period. A student’s responses to examination questions must provide evidence of proficiency in specific content areas and evidence of the integration of information across multiple areas through generation of newly conceived projects or papers.