Comprehensive Exam for Master's of Public Administration or Political Science

Comprehensive Exam Procedures for
Master of Arts in Public Administration and Master of Arts in Political Science

As part of the degree requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Public Administration or Political Science, each graduate student must pass a comprehensive examination of their coursework.  The exam consists of a take-home written component and an oral component.

Scheduling the Exam

After mid-term of the last semester of the student’s coursework in the MA program, the student should consult with their Public Administration/Political Science advisor to form an exam committee. The committee will be comprised of three Sul Ross State University faculty members. At least two committee members must be from the Public Administration/Political Science faculty.  One member of the committee may be from a related discipline.  The chair of the committee will be the student’s Public Administration/Political Science advisor.  The committee will evaluate the written exam and administer the oral exam.

When the student is ready is schedule the comprehensive exam, the student should complete the scheduling form on page 2 of the attached document. 

Structure of the Exam

The take-home written exam will consist of three to four essay questions about the student’s coursework. Each member of the committee may submit one question, or committee members may collaborate to create questions. During the written exam, students can consult course readings, and assignments, as long as all resources are properly cited. The questions for the written exam will be emailed to the student on the day of the exam. Students will have 48 hours to complete the exam.

The oral exam should be conducted approximately two weeks after the written exam. During the oral exam, committee members will ask the student to explain or elaborate upon their answers from the written exam. Students must take the oral exam in person, on the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine. However, the committee members may decide, on a case-by-case basis, to allow distance education students to complete the oral exam by phone. The oral exam will last approximately one hour.

Preparing for the Exam

Students can begin preparing for the comprehensive exam by gathering readings and assignments from previous Public Administration/Political Science coursework. Past students have prepared for the comprehensive exam by reviewing assignments, readings, final exams, and research projects from their Public Administration/Political Science coursework.

Comprehensive Exam Scheduling Form

To schedule your exam, complete and submit the form on page 2 of this document.