Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Lynch School of Education

Comprehensive Exams

masters program

Comprehensive Exam Dates:

    Fall 2015: October 23-25

    Spring 2016: February 26-29

In order to ensure that all students graduating from the master's program have a fundamental understanding of the field which they are about to enter, they are required to take a written comprehensive examination covering the broad areas of the core courses. The goal of the exam is for the student to demonstrate his or her substantive and integrative knowledge of higher education and its professional literature in coherent essays. The knowledge base for the examination is, in general, the "core" (ED770) and student-chosen "foundations" courses (from among ED705, 706, 778, 779, 803). Other relevant material may, of course, be used. The comprehensive examination requires students to synthesize and reflect on course content and does not require students to conduct new research. Students are presented with one or more contemporary issues, problems, cases, or current events in higher education. Students respond to the issue(s) by writing analytic essays integrating material across courses.

Students must have completed a minimum of 24 credits before taking the comprehensive exam. Comprehensive exams are scheduled once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Master's comprehensive examinations are not offered during the summer. Students should meet individually with their faculty advisors to discuss the details of their exams. Students must sign up to take the exam with The Graduate Office in Campion 135 by the announced deadline. The registration procedure involves submitting the online form Request to Graduate/Comprehensive Exam Request and registering for ED888. Students will then be cleared for the exam by The Graduate Office. Exams will be distributed electronically by The Graduate Office on Friday morning and hardcopies are due back to Campion 135 by Monday morning.

Examination questions are written and graded by core faculty. Grades awarded are pass, pass with distinction, or fail. Grades reflect the degree to which students demonstrate, apply, and integrate their knowledge of higher education principles and concepts. If a student's examination is unsatisfactory, he or she may be asked to rewrite a portion of a response. If successful the second time, the student will pass. If a student fails the entire exam, s/he will have one more opportunity to retake the exam the next semester. Since the goal of the exam is for the student to demonstrate his/her general knowledge of the field of higher education, any student who has successfully completed the core coursework should feel confident in his/her ability to pass the exams.