Comprehensive Exams

The 2-day comprehensive exam

What to expect when taking exams:

Each day will be split into two 4-hour blocks. Day 1 will offer three questions in a field that a student specifies as their major or preferred field (American, Comparative, or International Relations). The student must provide an answer to two of those three questions in their primary field. For the first half of day 2, the students will get two questions in a second field of their choice and answer one of them. Then, the student will receive final question on research design and implementation. In all, students will answer four questions.

For each question, the student will write a paper that ties together the relevant literature surrounding that question. Students are not allowed notes or access to the internet while answering questions. Additionally, at the beginning of the semester in which they will take comprehensive exams, students will receive a list of works relevant to their major and minor fields that they should know in preparation of the exams.

After review by the professors in the relevant field, students will receive one of three results: Pass, fail, must take oral exams. Oral exams will be administered by the relevant field faculty and will result in pass or fail. As per university policy, “A comprehensive examination that is failed on the first attempt can be repeated once, but only if a second attempt is requested by the student and approved by the master’s program.” The second attempt must occur within 12 months of the original attempt. A student that fails two exams is dismissed from the program and the school.

Thesis or Comprehensive Exams |Table of Contents