During the final semester of coursework, students must pass a written comprehensive examination. The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to assess students’ knowledge of political science, the pertinent literature in their chosen concentration area, as well as their analytical and research skills. The examination committee, consisting of faculty members from the student's concentration area, prepares the exam questions and evaluates students’ work.
The comprehensive exam employs an essay format and students are typically allotted six hours for completing the exam. The exam usually occurs on a Friday in April for Spring Semester graduates and early November for Fall semester graduates. Consult the MA Program AsUlearn page for upcoming exam dates. Students are encouraged to acquaint themselves with the Assessment Rubrics used by faculty readers. These are available on the MA Program AsUlearn Page, as well. If you need access to the AsUlearn page, please contact the program director.
Comprehensive exams are evaluated as: fail, qualified pass, pass and pass with honors. Students must receive a grade of qualified pass or better in order to meet this degree requirement. Students may retake an exam only once, if necessary; under no circumstances may a student take a comprehensive examination a third time. If a student receives a qualified pass, they may be offered an oral or written retake in the same semester. If they fail this attempt, then the student can come back the next semester for a retake. That will be their final opportunity to complete the exam.
Successful passage of the comprehensive examination is a prerequisite to completion of the degree. For further information regarding the comprehensive exams, contact the program director.
Comprehensive Exam Assessment Rubrics:
- Rubric for research methods & substantive questions
- Student evaluation form
- Committee evaluation form
Sample Comprehensive Exam Questions: