Comprehensive Examination

During the final semester of coursework, students must pass a written comprehensive examination. The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to test student's mastery of the critical issues and readings of their field within political science. The examination committee, consisting of faculty members from the student's area of concentration (IR/Comparative or American Government) and selected by the faculty within each program, prepares questions each semester covering the pertinent literature in the student's chosen field of concentration.

The comprehensive exam employs an essay format and students are allotted eight hours for completing the exam. The exam is conducted in the department's computer lab and students must type their responses. The exam usually occurs on a Friday in February for Spring Semester graduates and October for Fall semester graduates. If a student does not pass their written comprehensive exam, the exam committee may request that the student take an oral exam or second written exam prior to the end of the semester or require the student to postpone re-taking the comprehensive exam until the following semester. Successful passage of the comprehensive examination is a prerequisite to completion of the MA degree.

The evaluation form which the faculty use for evaluating the exam is available here (PDF, 22 KB).

The following links provide examples of the Comprehensive Exam Review questions provided in previous years.