The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Comprehensive Paper

As part of the degree requirements, PhD students must successfully complete an integrative Comprehensive Paper. The paper is an original, scholarly, integrative 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 paper:

  • 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 Paper 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 paper and all coursework allows students to proceed to the dissertation.