Exam Policies

General / Qualifying Exam

Purpose The exam assesses the quality of the student’s preparation for advanced work in the academic discipline and ability to pursue graduate work at the master’s or doctoral level. In addition, the exam assists in the planning of a program of study that will overcome any deficiencies in the student’s background.
Timing The exam is given early during the student’s first semester of residence. For doctoral students, the timing often coincides with the master’s final exam.
Format The exam may be oral and/or written. Exam content and grading policy are determined by each graduate program and set uniformly throughout the program.
Procedures The graduate chair shall coordinate the exam, which will be conducted by either the faculty of the graduate program or a committee appointed by the graduate chair.
Results The graduate chair shall report the exam results (including repeated exam results, if applicable) to the Office of Graduate Student Services. Results are reported as follows:
Master’s Plan A and doctorate — via Form I
Master’s Plans B and C — via memo
Repeat Policy A student who fails the general exam may repeat it once. A student who fails the exam for the second time is dismissed from both the graduate program and the Office of Graduate Education.

Comprehensive Exam

See Doctorate.

Final Exam (Master’s Plan A and Doctorate)

See Thesis & Dissertation > Final Defense.

Final Exam (Master’s Plans B and C)

Purpose The final exam determines the student’s level of comprehension and achievement in the chosen discipline at the master’s level.
Timing The entire exam must be given prior to the last day to submit master’s Plans B and C final exam results, as indicated in the Calendar for the term during which the degree is to be conferred.
Format Exam content and grading policy are determined by the graduate program. Exam format is as follows:
  • Plan B — The exam may be oral and/or written.
  • Plan C — The exam consists of a series of written and oral components. The oral component of the exam shall follow the written component.
Procedures The graduate chair shall coordinate the exam, which shall be conducted as follows:
  • Plan B — In the case of a written exam, an exam committee or the student’s program adviser shall conduct the exam. In the case of an exam with an oral component, all members of the graduate faculty shall be invited.
  • Plan C — The student’s program committee or an exam committee appointed by the graduate chair shall conduct the exam. For the oral component of the exam, the same procedures for the final defense shall be followed. See Thesis & Dissertation > Final Defense.

To pass the exam, a student must:

  • Plan B — Obtain “pass” votes from the majority of the exam committee, if the exam is conducted by a committee.
  • Plan C — Demonstrate a level of comprehension and achievement consonant with that required by Plans A and B on the final exam.
Results Exam results shall be reported to the Office of Graduate Student Services via a memo certified by the student’s program adviser and endorsed by the graduate chair.
Repeat Policy A student who fails the final exam may repeat it once. A student who fails the exam for the second time is dismissed from both the graduate program and the Office of Graduate Education.