Department of Communication Studies

Comprehensive Exams

  • What Is the Comprehensive Exam?
  • When Should I Take Comps?
  • Who Evaluates the Questions?
  • How Much Guidance Will I Receive in Preparing?
  • What Are the Logistics Involved?
  • When are Comps Offered?
  • How Will I Be Notified of the Results?
  • How are Comprehensive Exams Evaluated?

    Two comprehensive examinations must be passed by all graduate students to obtain a Masters degree in the Department of Communication Studies. All exams occur during spring semester.

    1. What Is the Comprehensive Exam? The exams are one means the department uses to assess your knowledge and skills related to communication studies. The exams will cover two areas in your graduate program: communication theories and research methods. The exams requires you to write for two hours on each area for a total of four hours.
    2. When Should I Take Comps? The methods exam must be taken during the Spring semester in which you are completing 18 hours of course work.  In order to continue in the program and take classes the next semester, you must pass this exam. The theory exam must be taken during the Spring semester in which you are completing 30 hours of coursework. In order to receive a master’s degree, you must pass this exam. For those who are not full time students, you may take the exams during the Spring semester immediately after you complete 18 and 30 hours of coursework.
    3. Who Evaluates the Questions? A departmental graduate faculty committee will evaluate the answers to these exam questions.
    4. How Much Guidance Will I Receive in Preparing? Your COMMGRAD 6001 (48C:201) Introduction to Graduate Study & Research course will provide a Comparative Communication Methods Summary document and set you up to prepare for the exams. This guidebook also offers advice for preparing for each exam in Appendices E-3 and E-4. The graduate program will offer a study session for each exam once a year, during the Fall semester. It is your responsibility to start studying as soon as possible.  Should you find a gap in your answers, it is your responsibility to contact faculty for individual tutorials on specific items.
    5. What Are the Logistics Involved? You will write your comprehensive exam in a computer lab assigned by the department. The computer platform used for writing comprehensive exams is a PC. The departmental office will provide you with a computer disk to save your work. You will be asked to present materials to be used during the exam to the department office staff before you begin writing. 
    6. When are Comps Offered? You may write your comprehensive exam anytime within the 11th and 12th weeks of the Spring semester. (See dates & deadlines for this in Appendix I.) If Spring Break or another university holiday occurs during this time, the comprehensive exam writing block will be extended accordingly. You will be asked to self-identify to the department office coordinator at the beginning of the spring semester about your intention of writing comps that semester. The comprehensive exam form (Appendix E) indicates the dates and times you plan to write, and the deadline for submitting this information.
    7. How Will I Be Notified of the Results? After you complete the exam, the responses are forwarded to the faculty for review. You will be notified of the results via email. Therefore, you can expect results back approximately two weeks after you write the exam.
    8. How are Comprehensive Exams Evaluated?

      Each of the two exam areas is scored independently. Categories used for evaluation of the answers are “pass” and “no pass.”  A “pass” means you successfully met the requirements and expectations associated with a question. A “no pass” indicates that you must correct, supplement, reconstruct, or in some other way rewrite your answer, because you did not fully meet the reviewer’s expectations. Unless special dispensation is obtained, all comprehensive exams will be taken in the 11th or 12th week of the spring semester.