Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive examinations, required of all seniors for graduation, have two central and related objectives:

  1. To provide an opportunity for senior students to synthesize the essential concepts, content, and methods of their academic field, and, during the course of their review, to establish central relationships among the materials covered in separate courses. 
  2. To provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate competence in their field by applying their knowledge to central relational problems, questions, or topics. 

Since no single type of examination experience will serve all academic fields with equal effectiveness, departments have freedom to set either a single examination or a related group of synthesizing experiences as constituting the Comprehensive. Related experiences may include, but are not limited to, seminars, theses, creative projects, field research projects, and oral examinations. Any collective experience that is evaluated by the department rather than an individual instructor, and that in the opinion of the department works toward the objectives and embodies the characteristics described above, may be construed as meeting the intent of the Comprehensive requirement.

All departments, regardless of the nature and form of the comprehensive examination, are required to provide opportunities for students who fail their comprehensives to retake them before the end of the academic year in order that they might be given another chance to satisfy departmental expectations before graduation. Departments are granted the autonomy to determine the date and time of the initial examination as well as the re- taking of the examination.

Departments have the right to waive course final examinations during a semester in which the central portion of the comprehensive is administered.

In place of a letter grade for evaluating comprehensive examinations, a three-category system is used: Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.