The Comprehensive Examination Academic Year 2013-2014

The Comprehensive Examination for Communication Master or Arts students is currently offered only during Spring semesters.  In the Spring semester before graduation - and only after a student has completed (or is in the process of completing) all core course requirements - each Communication in M.A. student taking the Non-Thesis Option is required to complete the Comprehensive Examination.  Registration for at least one credit hour is required during the Comprehensive Examination (Spring) semester and students are encouraged to take COMM 6050 - Communication Graduate Capstone in the same semester, as full support for completing the Comprehensive Examination is provided.  The examination focuses on three content areas chosen by the student; two questions are answered during a four-hour written examination session, on campus, taken without the use of notes, and one question is considered a take home exam to be turned in at the beginning of the following week.


To initiate the examination, the M.A. student must contact the Director of Graduate Studies in Communication, Dr. Sherry Morreale (Columbine Hall 4009) by no later than Thursday, February 6, 2014 for the Spring 2014 Comprehensive Examination.  Each student will invite (and confirms faculty availability to participate in the Oral Defense sessions which will occur within the period of April 14 - 23, 2014) three Communication professors with whom he or she studied graduate coursework, to serve on the Examination Committee.  Professors/Committee members are limited to one question per student.  The student will designate the professor to serve as Chair of the Committee.  The student will inform the Director of Graduate Studies of the professors for their committee, the Chairperson and Course Number and Title of the course each professor will represent.  The committee will determine which question will serve as the Take Home examination prior to the exam date.  In preparation for the written examination, it is appropriate for students to seek advice and guidance about the examination question from the professor who provides that question.  At the discretion of the professor, the advice will relate to clarifying the nature of research to response the question.  The specific examination question is not provided prior to the actual examination.


The Spring 2014 written examination will be given on Friday, April 4, 2014 from 12:00 (noon) to 4:30 PM.  On the day of the written examination, the student reports to the on campus examination location, by no later than 11:50 a.m.  The student is not permitted to use resources for writing his/her responses, with the exception of one comprehensive list of references for each question.  This list is not an annotated bibliography; it is a list of references presented in APA style that can inform writing and must be submitted to the exam proctor at the conclusion of the examination period.  The student's name, Professor, and Course Number and Course Title must be at the top of the reference list.  Students compose their responses in two separate WORD documents using a computer provided for the examination, without internet support.  Prior to the writing session the student is provided the two on-site questions and she/he determines which to answer first.  At the students' discretion and usually at the completion of the first question, a break is permitted.  She/he must notify the exam proctor of the beginning of the break period.  The break must be taken outside the examination room, may be no longer than 15 minutes and only 1 break during the examination is permitted.  The total break time is recorded and the adjusted end of the examination period is provided to the student, to assure that everyone has a full four hours to complete the examination.  The student responds to the second on-site question until satisfied with the response or time runs out, whichever occurs first.  The student will email the 2 separate responses to the exam proctor, themselves and the Director of Graduate Studies.  The take-home question will be given to the student, at the end of the written examination.  This question will be answered in an open-book format.  The take-home question is due in hard copy format to the Communication Department Program Assistant no later than 12:00 p.m. on Monday, April 7, 2014.


Approximately one to two weeks after the written examinations have been completed; a one hour Oral Defense will be conducted.  The Oral Defense for Spring 2014 will be scheduled between April 14 - 23, 2014.  The Chair of the Examination Committee will coordinate scheduling of the Oral Defense with the student and committee members.  The department Program Assistant coordinates the scheduling and determines the place for the Oral Defense. During the Oral Defense, students have the opportunity to expand on their written responses and answer questions from the Examination Committee.  Students may bring extensive notes to assist in discussing and defending theirs responses, but a completely rewritten response is not accepted.   At the conclusion of the Oral Defense, the student will be informed of the results of the Comprehensive Examination.  A student who has provided acceptable written and oral responses will pass the examination.  Those who provide excellent or outstanding may pass with distinction or highest distinction.  Students who do not provide adequate responses will be asked to rewrite which entails another on-site examination of a NEW question as determined by the committee.  The rewrite will take place in the same on-site examination format of two hours and no notes or other resources used.  The rewrite examination will be given on Friday, April 25, 2014 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Failure to provide an adequate revision in the second examination will result in the denial of the Master of Arts in Communication degree.

The form on the back of this sheet is used to evaluate the written and oral components of the comprehensive examination.


Comprehensive Examination
Oral Defense Checklist

Student __________________________ Date ______________


Written Answer
Clarity of answer very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Accuracy of information very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Comprehensiveness of response very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Logic of argument very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Structure of written response very poor poor average excellent outstanding

Oral Defense:
Clarity of answer very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Accuracy of information very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Comprehensiveness of response very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Logic of argument very poor poor average excellent outstanding
Oral competence very poor poor average excellent outstanding

Overall Assessment of Examination:
Revisions Needed
(as outlined on the
back of this sheet)
Pass Pass
with Distinction
Pass with Highest