​School of Education Graduate Comprehensive Exam Information


All students in the Master of Science in Education degree program are required to take the comprehensive exam if they are on the non-thesis track. The comprehensive exam consists of four essay questions covering a total of 12 credits (four different, 3-credit courses). These questions are obtained from the 3-credit courses which you have been completing for your master’s degree. You choose which courses your questions will come from. The following guidelines apply:
  1. You must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in at least 24 credits in your graduate program including courses in foundations and curriculum to register for the comprehensive exam. 
  2. You are required to write on one foundations course and one curriculum course
    • Foundation Courses: Education 701, 702, 703, 708
    • Curriculum Courses: Education 721, 726, 780, 722, 790 (curriculum) 
  3. If you are completing a thesis, then you will complete an oral defense of your thesis and write on only one exam question. 
  4. Questions from your research component of your master’s program (i.e., ED 707, 782) or an independent study (i.e. ED 796) are not allowed.

The comprehensive examination can be taken during one of the following times: second week in March (typically right before spring break), second week in July, and second week in October. All exam questions are provided on the Thursday of the 2nd week of the month specified above and below and the responses are due the following Monday. 

Steps for Registering for the Comprehensive Exam

  1. If you meet the requirements for 24 credits and completion or concurrent enrollment in foundations and curriculum, you can complete the exam registration form online. Click the title to get to the registration form. 
    1. Summer SOE Comprehensive Exam (2nd week in July)
      • Registration for the summer exam must be completed by June 15
    2. Fall SOE Comprehensive Exam (2nd week in October)
      •  Registration for the fall exam must be completed by September 15
    3. Spring SOE Comprehensive Exam (2nd week in March)
      • Registration for the spring exam must be completed by February 15
  2. Upon receipt of the exam registration form, the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development will review the selections you have made. If any changes need to be made, then you will be notified. Note: You do not secure exam questions from faculty involved. Exam questions will be obtained by the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development, and an exam packet will be prepared for you. You will receive that packet the day of the scheduled exam.

Preparing for the Comprehensive Exam

It is helpful to gather your notes and resources from the course you are writing the exam for. Have available the syllabus from that course and text that was required (if applicable). The following rubric has been provided to faculty as a resource for evaluating your exam responses: Suggested Rubric Link.

Writing your Comprehensive Exam

Questions are assembled for each student by the School of Education. At the beginning of the scheduled exam period, you will receive your exam questions via email. You will have four days to write on the four questions. Exam questions are due electronically, following the directions specified on the email. You are not allowed to write beyond the deadline. Exams received after the deadline will not be considered. It is your responsibility to pace your writing to allow for response to all questions provided. 

Following the Comprehensive Exam

Written responses to questions are sent to the respective professor. Professors are encouraged to correct these questions within a two-week period. Due to vacations over the summer months or spring break, there could be a delay. 
 
Once your response is evaluated you will be notified of the results via email. You must pass all four questions in order to complete the exam satisfactorily. Copies of the exam evaluations/comments will be provided with the email. 

If You Do Not Pass One or More Questions

The comprehensive exam is graded on a pass/fail basis and faculty typically includes additional comments. Any questions which are not answered satisfactorily must be rewritten. At the discretion of the professor involved, substitute questions may be written.
 
If after the rewriting of the question(s), and you have not passed all questions, you may appeal to the Associate Dean of the School of Education for permission to rewrite the question(s) again. In most cases, permission will be granted only to students who first complete additional course work. The Associate Dean will not grant more than one repeat.
 
If you do not pass on the second rewrite of a question, you may appeal to a four-member graduate faculty committee for special consideration by contacting the coordinator of the degree program. The committee shall consist of:
  1. The Coordinator of the Degree Program, Chairperson
  2. The student's adviser
  3. A faculty member from the content area being considered
  4. At least one School of Education faculty member outside the specific content area being considered
After reviewing information relating to the appeal, the committee may:
  1. Grant a "pass"
  2. Recommend that the student do further study and then rewrite one more time either for the same professor or another professor designated by the committee, or
  3. Determine that the appeal has no merit

Applying to Graduate

Once you have passed your comprehensive graduate exam and completed all coursework, you can apply to graduate if you haven’t already. You should apply to graduate at least one full semester prior to your final term so that you can conduct a graduation audit, and address any issues, prior to your final registration term. If you apply during your final term, it may be too late add a class if you are deficient in some area. Applying late in your final term may also mean that your name will not be on lists of graduating students, including the printed commencement ceremony program.
  
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