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Graduate Programs

Graduate comprehensive examinations
    NOTE:Application for graduation must be done at least one term prior to completion of final course work.

Important dates for graduate students
Comprehensive exams will be held during the times listed below:

Starting Fall 2015 a one-day option will no longer be provided.

Fall 2014
November 6-7, 2014
Winter 2015
February 12-13, 2015
Spring 2015
May 7-8, 2015
Summer 2015
Examinations are not offered during summer term

Exam location: To be determined

Parking:
Free on-street public parking is located nearby.

If you have a valid WOU parking permit, you may park in any commuter lot during test times. To purchase a 2-day WOU parking permit ($4), please contact Campus Parking Services in Administration Building Room 102A. We recommend that you make arrangements in advance: call 503-838-8267.

Time:
First session - Thursday 8:15 to 11:30 a.m.
Second session - Thursday 12:15 to 4:30 p.m. OR Friday 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

More information: Phone 503-838-8492 or e-mail deetsa@wou.edu

About written comprehensive examinations for MSEd students
Written comprehensive examinations are graded as follows: With Distinction, Pass, Unsatisfactory, or Fail. If you receive a failing grade you must retake that section of your examination. If you receive Unsatisfactory, a committee of three faculty members will schedule you for a one-hour oral review. The oral will focus on the section(s) evaluated as unsatisfactory. Every attempt is made to have at least one member from your program on the oral committee. A team of professors usually writes the general knowledge/general education component. Your answers are graded by a team of readers. Your advisor and/or professors who usually teach courses listed on the student's Plan of Study often write the subject matter or specialty area questions. These questions are based on the courses you took as part of your degree. Faculty who wrote the questions in the subject matter or specialty area usually read and rates the responses.

Comprehensive examinations are administered during your last quarter of study or after all courses have been completed for a particular degree. The seven-hour exam is designed to be taken in two morning sessions or on one full day. Dates for comprehensive examinations are established for the university for each term and individual test dates are not allowed. Most exams include a general education component that takes three hours and a subject matter/specialty component that usually requires four hours to complete. The readers/evaluators will not know who wrote any particular answer since all candidates are identified by code numbers picked at random by the Graduate Office.

Comprehensive examination questions are authored by faculty and subject matter experts from your program. You have usually had one if not all of these faculty members during your coursework. These questions are designed to elicit your understanding of your content area; the questions are designed as prompts that demand both a comprehensive and specifically detailed response to show what you have learned during graduate studies, how it connects with your current or future field, and how you are able to connect theory and research to your daily work and practice.

The comprehensive exams are graded in the following process:
1. Exams are anonymized by the graduate office.
2. Anonymized exams are provided to the program coordinator.
3. Each program coordinator distributes exams to be scored by faculty with expertise in the subject matter or specialty area. Each exam is scored by two faculty members.
4. Each faculty member scores each question individually as fail, unsatisfactory, pass, or with distinction. Scores of individual questions should not be confused with the holistic, final score for the exam. If faculty members score questions with Unsatisfactory or Fail, they should provide some specific questions and feedback to the student via anonymized comments on the grading rubric or an attached sheet.
5. Having read the entire exam, each faculty reader provides a holistic, final score for the exam: Fail, Unsatisfactory, Pass, or With Distinction. 
6. Exams with one or two questions scored Unsatisfactory must have an oral exam. Depending upon faculty evaluation of the work, exams with three questions scored Unsatisfactory may be require an Oral exam or may be scored as Fail. Exams with four or more questions with Unsatisfactory are failed.
7. Having scored the exam, faculty return the exams to the program coordinator. The program coordinator then determines the final outcome based on the faculty evaluation. The program coordinator reports this score to the Graduate Office.
8. The graduate office reports the final scores to the student via email.

Outcomes

  • If you receive a fail, you must retake the exam. (Students are only allowed one retake before an alternative capstone project will be required)
  • If you must take an oral exam, a committee of two or three faculty will schedule a one-hour oral review. The oral exam will focus on areas that were scored as unsatisfactory. Every attempt is made to have at least one member from your program on the oral committee.
  • If you pass, congratulations!
  • If you pass With Distinction, hooray hooray!

 

One Session

Other Session

Outcome

Pass or With Distinction

Pass or With Distinction

Student passes comprehensive exams; no further exit evaluation is required.

Unsatisfactory

Student will be required to participate in a one hour oral review for the session that received the unsatisfactory score. If student passes they will be considered completed with finals. If student fails they will be required to sit for another written session of exams for the session that received the failing score.

Fail

Student will be required to sit for written exams for the session that received the failing score. Student will be required to get exam clearance from their advisor and the Graduate Programs Director. (See notes to student)

Unsatisfactory

Unsatisfactory

Student will be required to participate in a one hour oral review for both sessions. If student passes they will be considered completed with finals. If student fails they will be required to sit for another written session of exams for the session that received the failing score. (See notes to student)

Fail

Student will be required to participate in a one hour oral review for the session that received the unsatisfactory score. If student passes oral review they will be required only to retake the failed portion of the exam. If student fails both portions of exam after orals they will be required to retake written exams for both sessions. (See notes to students)

Fail

Fail

Student must retake written finals. Student will need exam clearance approval from both their advisor and the Director of Graduate Programs. Student has a total of 2 chances to successfully complete their written exams before they are required to find an alternative exit requirement. Student must pass both sessions to be considered successful in completion.

Notes to students: Students may only repeat the test once before being required to provide a new exit option to complete their master's degree.

About written comprehensive examinations for MA CJ students

Comprehensive examinations are administered after all courses have been completed and the student has successfully submitted a research proposal detailing his or her area of concentration.  Dates for comprehensive examinations are established by the university and are offered during Fall, Winter, and Spring terms.  Individual test dates are not allowed.  Building on the professional core, comprehensive exams allow students to tailor their studies by taking coursework in three academic areas: research methods, criminological theory, and a combination of electives (See Course Catalog) in an area of individualized concentration. The Criminal Justice Graduate Coordinator will assist students in selecting an area of concentration and in developing a research question.

Students who elect to take comprehensive exams answer three probing questions, which are presented as robust descriptive essays.  Students will submit their essays online during one of the comprehensive periods (See the Criminal Justice Graduate Homepage for additional informational). The first question focuses on research methods and is based on material presented in the student’s research methods class (CJ-612).  The second question focuses on criminological theory and is based on material presented in the student’s criminology theory class (CJ-660).  The third question focuses on an area of concentration based on the academic or professional interests of the student and illuminates or explores aspects of the policies, programs, operations, administration, or history of a criminal justice or social service agency (CJ-606).  Answers must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of relevant material.

Grading for the exam (each essay answer) will be based on the following criteria:

  • Grammar (syntax, sentence structure, and language rules)
    • 15%
  • Presentation (clear and logical writing style)                     
    • 10%
  • Content (answer the question(s) completely)                   
    • 60%
  • Paraphrased (use a minimum of direct quotations)             
    • 5%
  • Cite sources using APA or MLA citation format             
    • 10%

Students who receive a grade of 79/100, or less, on an exam will be given a program of self-study.  After this course of study, they may retake the area(s) failed at another regularly scheduled examination date.  Students may retake the written comprehensive examinations only once.   

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Western Oregon University | 345 N. Monmouth Ave. | Monmouth OR 97361 | Graduate Programs | 503-838-8597 | www.wou.edu/grad | email: graduateprograms@wou.edu | Text only