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Master's Students

Master's Thesis & Graduation - Comprehensive Exams


All candidates for a master’s degree are required to take a comprehensive final examination or to defend their theses/projects/reports, or both. Exams are scheduled after the other requirements for the degree have been completed or nearly completed.

Exam Requirements and Procedures

Students must be registered when they take the comprehensive examination or defend the thesis or project. This can be accomplished by registering to take a regular course, independent study/thesis/project credits, or through candidate for degree registration. The examination may be oral, written, or both.

The Request for Graduate Examination/Thesis Defense Form must be submitted to the Graduate School Office, LSC 1251, at least two weeks prior to the exam date. It is the student’s responsibility to set the date and time of the exam, in consultation with his/her advisor.

The master’s examination or thesis/project defense must be given by a committee of three members of the graduate faculty, all of whom sign an exam report form signifying that the student has passed the exam or defense. The committee chair must be a regular member of the Graduate Faculty and must be a member of the degree-granting program, and the other members must hold at least a special graduate faculty appointment.

The record of the thesis defense must be approved by the student’s faculty committee and filed with the Graduate School Office before graduation. In programs where the project/report defense counts as the comprehensive exam, this requirement applies to projects/reports as well.

A student who fails the comprehensive final examination or defense may retake the examination only once.