Comprehensive Examination Guidelines


All candidates must apply for the comprehensive exam in the first two weeks of the semester they wish to take comprehensive exams.

Candidates for comprehensive exams must have completed all requirements or are in the process of completing coursework prior to taking comprehensive exams. Late applications will be processed the next semester.

Apply for the PE Comprehensive Examination here.


Comprehensive exams consist of three, two-hour exams given on the same day. Exams are typically essay-type questions requiring the candidate to recall information to develop an argument or solve a problem. Emphasis is placed on citing references. The first two hours of the exam will be from the research core, EFN 736 and ESS 752; the second two hours of exam will be from the pedagogy core, ESS 725, 727, 737, 759, 771; and the last two hours of the exam will be from the electives. Candidates are responsible for ALL material presented in their plan of study. Note: This includes transfer course work.


Each question is rated from 1-4 by a panel of experts. A rating of two is passing. A total average of two or higher is required to pass comprehensive exams. The chair and associate dean are notified and a letter is sent to each candidate within a month of the exam date. In the event a student fails the exam, the candidate will be allowed to retake the exams on the next scheduled date. After two unsuccessful attempts students will be dropped from the program or provided the opportunity to write a thesis if an advisor is available.

Exam questions will vary from semester to semester. The candidate will not be informed of what the questions will be before the exam. Comprehensive exams require the candidate be responsible for ALL the material in their plan of study.