​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 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 
  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. Please check with the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development at 715-346-4403 for the specific dates or the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development website.

Steps for Registering for the Comprehensive Exam

  1. Confirm your eligibility with the Office of Graduate Studies & Professional Development at least one semester prior to when you want to take the exam.  Contact information is 715-346-4403 or cscheder@uwsp.edu to request a credit check.
  2. If you meet the requirements for 24 credits and completion of foundations and curriculum, you can complete the exam registration form online.
    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
    • You need to contact the professor of a specific course you wish to write on and ask him/her if he/she would be willing to write a question for you. If that professor agrees, then you can list that course and the faculty member on your registration form.
    • You are only seeking agreement from the faculty member to provide a question; you are not asking for the question itself.   
    • Be sure to list complete course department and number (i.e. EDUC 702) together with the semester you took the course and the instructor's name. 
  3. 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

You can only obtain one question from a course. In the case where a professor has taught you two courses, you can request a question from each of the two courses. One cannot shop around for the best question and then decide to list that course for the comprehensive examination. After your registration has been submitted and questions approved by the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development then you could contact the professor for further guidance. 
A professor is not required to share the question before the exam. Yet, professors frequently suggest material to study, or they often will share the question itself or major parts of the questions. You may ask for a general idea as to what the exam question they provide might entail or inquire as to how you might best prepare/review for the exam. 

Writing your Comprehensive Exam

Questions are assembled for each student by the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development. At the beginning of the scheduled exam period, you will have four days to write on the four questions. Exam questions are due electronically to the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development no later than 12 p.m. on Friday of the second week of the month in which you are writing the exam. Your exams must be completed as Word documents, and emailed to the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development at cscheder@uwsp.edu
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, there could be a delay. 
The professor indicates “pass” or “not pass” and returns the question and your response to the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Development. You will then be notified of the results in writing as soon as the exams have been evaluated and returned. You must pass all four questions in order to complete the exam satisfactorily. Copies of the exam evaluations/comments will be provided with the letter announcing the results of your exam. 

If You Do Not Pass One or More Questions

The comprehensive exam is graded on a pass/fail basis and faculty typically includes additional written 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 head 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 head 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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