Skip to Content

Non-Thesis Option

The Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam serves as a capstone for the MPA program allowing students to demonstrate expertise of subject material. Exam expectations include a literature review, links to the Universal Competencies, research, and application. The comprehensive exam is comprised of a take-home three-question written exam followed by an oral examination. All three questions will be distributed at the same time.  The student has six weeks to complete the responses to the three exam questions. Late submissions will be not be accepted under any circumstances. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the completed responses reach the committee no later than 5.00 pm on the date specified by the committee. The completed responses to the questions will be returned to the committee chair with a copy to the MPA program director.

The student is expected to put the exam question in its entirety on top of each answer before submission. The student is expected to answer the questions and provide citations to appropriate scholarly literature, data, and other evidence.  Responses to each question should be 8-10 pages, not including citations.  Responses must include a brief literature review with a minimum of ten unique citations. Question responses should be double spaced with 12-point font and 1-inch margins. Figures and charts may be provided as appendices and not as part of the 8-10 page written response. Student responses will be run through plagiarism detection software provided by Turnitin. The student is held to the university honor code and plagiarism will result in an automatic failing grade on the exam question.

Code of Student Conduct

The Honor Code

Students should format their responses in APA style and also meet with each member of the committee for paper structure and expectations.  Students may repeat an exam question once the following semester in the event the first attempt was unsuccessful.

Note that if you have completed all coursework but have not yet passed the comprehensive exam, you must still be enrolled in at least 1 credit hour. The Graduate College has developed GC 5100: Comprehensive Exam Contingency to serve as that credit hour so long as you are not enrolled in any other courses. It is ungraded and does not contribute to the degree.

Additional details can be found here.