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Capstone Comprehensive Exam Option

Graduate Program (M.S. Degree)

Comprehensive Examination Option

Students can fulfill the requirements of the M.S. Degree by completing 31 hours of graduate coursework (with a B or better) and successfully passing the comprehensive examination. 

The comprehensive examination will be offered each semester (Fall, Spring, Summer).  The comprehensive examination is a “take home” exam where students will have 7 days to address a series of questions.  The structure of the examination will be such that students will have to incorporate aspects from their core courses into their response. Students may also need to research/incorporate additional material not covered in their core classes.  The maximum page limit is 30 typed pages.

The exams are graded blindly by three Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology faculty members. Graders are looking for an informed, coherent, and focused answer that is responsive to the question, and that demonstrates the ability to integrate an understanding of both pragmatic and theoretical considerations. The exams are graded on a three-level scale: (a) High Pass, (b) Pass, and (c) Fail. A student who fails the exam is expected to meet with the Graduate Coordinator to discuss the reasons for failure and to plan to retake the exam the next time it is offered.

Students are limited to two attempts at taking the comprehensive examination.  Further, if a student fails on the first attempt, he/she can either take the exam a second time OR change course and pursue a thesis.  However, students who take the comprehensive exam a second time and fail a second time will be terminated from the program and will no longer have the option of pursuing a thesis (i.e., two strikes and you are out). 

Students wishing to take the comprehensive examination should notify the Graduate Coordinator. A few weeks before the administration of the comprehensive examination, the Graduate Coordinator will hold a required pre-examination meeting of all students taking the comprehensive examination. Students will be advised on the structure of the examination, how to prepare for the examination, as well as what is expected in a passing response.