PhD Comprehensive Exams

The doctoral comprehensive examination provides students with the opportunity to practice and be assessed on important skills: development of a research knowledge base, exercise of critical synthesis and writing skills, execution of an independent research project, and presentation and defense of individual work.

A faculty committee selected by the student shall administer each comprehensive examination. The committee shall be comprised of at least three faculty members eligible to teach graduate classes. The chair and at least one other committee member shall be voting members of the School of Criminal Justice faculty. A record of the committee’s composition shall be filed with the Dean’s Office when the committee is constituted. The committee must be formed no later than the beginning of the student’s third semester of enrollment following admission to the doctoral program.

The committee must approve the subject of the student’s examination. Thereafter, a written description of the examination subject shall be distributed to the faculty.

The committee shall determine how to assess the student’s proficiency, and will conduct the assessment. All examinations shall include:

  • Completion of a research project, involving a written report that in the committee’s view is suitable for publication in an academic journal; and
  •  An oral presentation and defense of the written product.

As a function of the Student Performance Committee’s annual review process, each student’s committee will report to the faculty regarding the student’s progress on the examination..

The committee will report to the Dean regarding its assessment of the student’s performance on the comprehensive exam. The committee must deem the student’s performance to be acceptable in order for the student to pass the comprehensive exam.

In the event an examining committee reports that a student has performed unsuccessfully on a comprehensive exam, or in the event that the student has disbanded his or her committee, the student may petition the Student Performance Committee to be allowed to form a new committee. The Student Performance Committee’s recommendation shall be considered by the faculty. Not more than one petition to form a new examining committee will be entertained.