Comprehensive Exams Policy
All graduate students must pass a comprehensive exam at the end of their graduate studies. Comprehensive exams are designed to demonstrate how well the student has integrated the knowledge gathered throughout their studies in the master's program. While the questions come from specific areas, they generally reflect broader issues than what a student will find in a single class.
Students may attempt the comprehensive exams only if they have been admitted to candidacy and only during the last semester of their graduate studies. The student will be permitted access to the practice exams throughout the last semester of study and will take the actual exam at some point during the last 3 weeks of the semester – to be scheduled through the Graduate Coordinator.
Exams will consist of 300 multiple choice questions divided into the 3 core subject areas represented by the required core courses on the degree plan (100 questions per area). Students must score a minimum of 75% on each of the 3 sections to pass. This score is not cumulative.
For the CJ or CJ/PA degrees, the comprehensive exams will cover Theory, Research Methods and Courts/Legal subjects. For the HS or HS/PA degrees, the comprehensive exams will cover Homeland Security, Research Methods and Policy subjects.
If a student does not pass all the sections of the Comprehensive Exam the first time, they must retake the failed section(s) of the exam a second time, at a time to be scheduled through the Graduate Coordinator. A student who fails their second attempt on any section of the comprehensive exam may petition (must show significant cause) the Graduate Coordinator for a third attempt. The student can expect one of 3 outcomes from their petition:
- Student will be required to take remedial course work – to be determined in consultation with the CJ faculty – before taking the exam again.
- Student will be allowed to take the exam a third time with no other requirements.
- Student will not be allowed to take the exam again and will be removed from the program.
Students who do not take the comprehensive exams during their last semester of study will not be permitted to graduate until this exam is taken and passed. Any student sitting out a semester (not enrolling in courses for their program of study) will be required to apply to the university for readmission to the program. Readmission will require taking at least one graduate level course, to be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, during the semester for which the student is readmitted. The student must complete this course with a grade of B or better and complete the comprehensive exams during this semester in order to graduate.
Note - Students in one of the dual degree programs with Public Administration must also take the comprehensive exams in that area - Public Administration Comps