All students will take a series of three 90-minute comprehensive exams. Students writing a thesis will take their exams after completing 22 units. Students not writing a thesis will take their exams after completing 30 units. Comprehensive exams must be completed within one year of completing coursework.

If you are taking comps in a semester in which you are not enrolled in any other classes, you can enroll in 7006 for $25. This allows you to maintain your enrollment status without having to pay full tuition. If you are taking comprehensive exams in a semester in which you are taking thesis units, you do not need to enroll in 7006.

To complete your exams, you will contact three professors with whom you have taken at least one 5000-level seminar to request that each serve on your examination committee. If they agree, you will confer with each to determine a general field in which you will be examined and establish a date and time for the exam. Fall semester exams must be scheduled between September 1 and October 15. Spring semester exams must be scheduled between March 1 and April 15. You are advised against taking all three exams on the same day. It is rather advisable to spread the three exams out over a 3- to 4-week period. Please submit a list of the dates and times of all three exams to the Graduate Director by the start of the exam period (September 1 and March 1).

On the day of each of your scheduled exams, you will come into the office and receive your exam question. You will then have 90 minutes to answer the question on a laptop provided by the department. If emergency conditions force a suspension of in-person classes and services, comprehensive exams will be administered electronically. In this case, you will receive the question by email and then have 90 minutes to return the completed exam by email.

Comprehensive exams are graded pass/fail. If you fail an individual exam, you will need to consult with the professor before attempting the exam a second time. You will be offered only one opportunity to retake any portion of the comprehensive exam. If you fail one individual exam, you will be permitted to retake that exam later in the same semester, after you have completed all three exams. If you fail two or more individual exams, you will not be permitted to retake the exams until the next comprehensive exam period. Retake exams will consist of new questions. If you fail any exam a second time, you will not receive your degree.

All exams are retained in your graduate file indefinitely.  You may request a copy for your own records.

Updated: July 11, 2023