Comprehensive Exam

As part of the degree requirements, PhD students must successfully complete a Comprehensive Exam. This consists of an original, scholarly analysis written at the completion of coursework. Students choose from a faculty-prepared list of topics and draw upon core competencies and knowledge of their chosen concentration. Students are expected to demonstrate through this exam:

  • An ability to relate theoretical approaches to the assigned topic based on either one or multiple disciplines or areas of knowledge.
  • Knowledge of the history, developments, and issues in the substantive aspect of the topic.
  • An ability to apply an analytic approach to the assigned question.
  • An ability to argue points clearly and to write at a level suitable for publication in professional journals.

The Comprehensive Exam requires students to apply knowledge and skills in a manner similar to the demands required to write a dissertation and to carry out research and writing in professional life. Successful completion of the comprehensive exam and all coursework allows students to proceed to the dissertation.