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Final Comprehensive Examinations (Written and Oral)

All major programs require satisfactory completion of a final written examination and oral examination (M.A. and M.S.) or presentation (Applied Master's degrees). In order to complete the Application for Graduation, candidates must identify the dates on which they intend to take the written examination and the oral examination/presentation. (For more information on the oral examination or presentation, refer to the specific graduation requirements of the different Master's degree options.)

The Written Examination

  1. The Nature of the Written Examination: The final written examination may include all course work, research, and special projects that the student has completed as a part of the program of study.
  2. Scheduling the Written Examination: All candidates should contact their advisor upon admission to candidacy regarding the written examination requirement. Examinations must be offered on a designated date basis.
  3. Written Examination Committee: The written examination is developed, administered, and evaluated in accordance with the established departmental/program guidelines. The oral examination/presentation cannot be scheduled until the written examination has been passed.
  4. Grading the Written Examination: The department/program has the option of recommending a "pass," "condition," or "fail." Candidates who "condition" or "fail" on their first attempt will have one (1) opportunity to retake the written examination, with the approval of the department/program and the satisfaction of any conditions that the committee may require (e.g., additional course work, readings, or projects). However, the second examination may not be attempted in the same semester/summer session as the original examination.
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The Oral Examination/Presentation

Oral Examination (MA/MS)

Candidates will not be permitted to schedule the oral examination unless,

  • advancement to candidacy (Form 2), research/thesis proposal (Form 3), and Pre-Defense Signature Form (Form 5) have been approved,
  • a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.00 has been achieved, and
  • the candidate is within two (2) semesters of graduation. Defense of the thesis/research paper requires the approval of all committee members
  • the School of Graduate Studies has a FINAL draft of paper (hard copy)
  • a preliminary curriculum vita is on file in graduate studies.
  1. The Nature of the Oral Examination: The oral examination typically focuses on the research project. It generally consists of a presentation of this research project, followed by a discussion during which the student is asked to expand, defend, or explain the research and its findings. The examination is to be scheduled for a period of not less than one hour and normally not more than two hours.
  2. Oral examinations are open to the university community. The examinations of the upcoming week are announced on the Faculty List Serve no later than Friday of the week prior to the examinations. At the discretion of the examination committee chair, visitors may ask the candidate questions regarding the topic. The evaluation of the examination by the committee is closed to the public.
  3. Scheduling the Oral Examination: Before a candidate attempts the oral examination, the written examination must be satisfactorily completed. Before scheduling the oral examination, candidates must provide the School of Graduate Studies with a copy of the final draft of their thesis or research paper. The School of Graduate Studies appoints a Graduate Faculty Representative and gives him or her a copy of the thesis/research paper. It is then the responsibility of the candidate to initiate with the advisor the scheduling of the defense, allowing at least three weeks before the examination, and the advisor must notify the School of Graduate Studies of the date, time, and location of the examination. The oral examination should not be scheduled during the last week of classes or during any final examination period.
  4. The Oral Examination Committee: The oral examination committee must consist of the candidate's advisor and at least two additional members of the graduate faculty. The advisor will serve as chair of the committee. Students are encouraged to have a member from outside the program/department to serve on the committee. A member of the graduate faculty-at-large will be appointed by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies to serve as a procedural observer and a non-voting participant in the oral examination.
  5. Grading of the Oral Examination: The examination committee has the option of recommending a "pass," "conditional," or "fail." A candidate whose "conditional" recommendation requires the oral exam to be retaken will have one (1) opportunity to do so. A candidate who "fails" will have one (1) opportunity to propose a new project. The committee will specify (in writing) any conditions that the candidate must satisfy prior to the scheduling of a second examination or proposal. Conditions may include additional course work, readings, and/or projects. It is the responsibility of the candidate's advisor to notify the School of Graduate Studies once all conditions have been satisfied. All conditions that may be required must be contained in a graduate faculty representative's report to the School of Graduate Studies. A second oral examination may not be scheduled in the same semester.
  6. The Thesis or Research Paper Options: Guidelines for the preparation of the thesis and research paper are available in the School of Graduate Studies. The final oral examination committee and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies reserve the right to request changes in the final manuscript. All changes requested by the committee must be included in the committee's written report. All changes requested on the original copy, whether by the examining committee or the School of Graduate Studies, must be completed to the satisfaction of the requester(s) prior to a candidate's approval for graduation. For a thesis, an original and photocopy, containing all requested changes, must meet with the approval of the Graduate Studies Dean before the student will be permitted to graduate. For a research paper, one original, containing all requested changes, must meet with the approval of the Graduate Studies Dean before the student will be permitted to graduate.
  7. Curriculum Vita Sheet: All candidates are required to provide the oral examination committee and the School of Graduate Studies with a vita sheet at least three (3) weeks prior to the scheduled final oral examination. The vita sheet must contain a precise listing of all courses to be used in fulfillment of the master's degree program. A sample vita sheet and template is available to students from the School of Graduate Studies website or can be acquired directly from the office of the School of Graduate Studies.

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Capstone Presentation (MEd)

Candidates will not be permitted to present the capstone experience unless

  • advancement to candidacy (Form 2), capstone experience proposal (Form 3), Pre-Presentation Signature Form (Form 5), and FINAL capstone project have been approved,
  • a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.00 has been achieved, and
  • the candidate is within two (2) semesters of graduation. Presentation of the capstone experience requires the approval of all committee members.

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