Upcoming Comprehensive Exam Dates
- September 20, 2013 (PhD & MA)
- January 17, 2014 (PhD & MA)
- May 23, 2014 (PhD & MA)
Comps are offered three times a year: September, January, and May. The specific dates will be announced before the beginning of each academic year. A separate exam is given in April for graduating MA students. Four grades are possible on the comps: pass with distinction, pass, bare pass, and fail. For major field exams, a grade of pass or pass with distinction is necessary; for minor exams, a grade of bare pass or better is necessary. Students can take an exam a second time if they did not receive a passing grade on the first try. A student who fails a comprehensive exam must retake it at the next exam offering unless the DGS has approved an alternative schedule. On no occasion may a student take an exam a third time. In addition, students may not switch their major field if they fail on the first try. Students should consult with the convenor of their subfield about the format of the exam and the scope of topics and readings you should be familiar with. Past exams are posted at the department website.
When to Take Comprehensive Exams
Students may begin taking comprehensive exams as soon as they feel prepared. Full time students should aim to begin taking their comps during their third year. Part time students should aim to begin their comps after having completed (or acquired via transfer) 45 credits.
Full-time students must have sat for both their major and minor comps no later than the first exam offering of their fourth year. To avoid taking both comps during the fall of their fourth year, students must take one exam during their third year. Part time students must have sat for both of their exams no later than the first sitting after having completed 54 credits. Under extenuating circumstances ( e.g. health reasons, family leave, etc...), the director of graduate studies can provide an extension. If students have not taken both exams by this time, and do not have written permission from the director, it will count as a fail.
Summary of Dissertation Project
Prior to their major field oral exam, a student should prepare a page to two page summary of their dissertation project. It may be discussed at the oral exam, but it will not be part of the grade. The purpose of this conversation is to encourage students to begin thinking about their dissertation topic while taking classes and especially while preparing for comps.
Download past comprehensive exams