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Graduate Student Orientation

Road to Graduation

As you take the final steps towards graduation you are required to demonstrate your accomplishments through a scholarly dialogue. Each degree level has a required scholarly dialogue which evaluates competencies of the degree.

MS Students


The Master of Science (MS) students are required to prepare and present a Comprehensive  Examination (Comps) as the final requirement for graduation from the College of Nursing (CON) and the Graduate School of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The purpose of the exam is for students to demonstrate their accomplishment of the terminal outcome competencies of the CON Master’s Program.

This demonstration involves the student’s ability to discuss the integration and application of theory, research methodology, evidence-based practice, and advanced clinical decision-making specific to the student’s defined role focus; as well as to engage in a scholarly dialogue with CON faculty regarding issues important to the advanced practice of nursing. For more information on the MS Comp please see the MS Comprehensive Exam Guide


Fran Osterberg, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, conducts a thesis seminar in October and March. Check your school email account for notices. In addition, Ms. Osterberg requires a pre-check of your thesis a few days before your thesis defense. Call the Graduate School at 303-724-2915 well in advance to schedule this appointment.

DNP Students

DNP students are required to complete a Capstone Clinical Project. The project includes completing human subject preparation, data collection, management, analysis, synthesis, and discussion of research or evaluation data on a clinical research or evidence-based practice question. Students are required to present their research to faculty, staff and students.

PhD Students


PhD students are required to complete a Preliminary Examination (Prelims). The purpose of the Prelims is to determine potential for successful completion of the program. Prelims is a written exam offered three times a year. Students are eligible to take the exam after successful completion of: NURS 7000, NURS 7020, and NURS 7030. For more information on Prelims please see the PhD Student Handbook.


PhD students are required to take a Comprehensive Examination (Comps) at the completion of all the coursework. The purpose of Comps is to provide PhD candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of a broad range of knowledge in nursing science. Candidates should demonstrate synthesis of nursing knowledge. Comps are both written and oral. For more information on Comps, please see the PhD Student Handbook.


Finally, PhD students are required to complete a dissertation proposal, dissertation, and a dissertation defense. The dissertation is based on an original investigation, showing scholarly and critical judgment, as well as familiarity with tools and methods of research. For more information on the dissertation proposal, dissertation and dissertation defense please see the PhD Student Handbook.

Contact Judy Campbell for questions concerning these exams or graduation requirements.