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After a student has completed all of his/her coursework, the student prepares to take the Doctoral Written Comprehensive Examination. The content of this examination will be determined by the student’s comprehensive examination chairperson in association with the rest of the student’s committee and the student. Within one month after turning in the Doctoral Comprehensive Written Examination, the student will orally defend the work in a Doctoral Oral Comprehensive Examination before the comprehensive examination committee. Both the Doctoral Written and Oral Examinations are conceived of as an opportunity for the student to integrate and synthesize his/her graduate work. Application to take the comprehensive examination must be made via letter with the student’s Comprehensive Committee chairperson.

  1. Responsibility for preparation: The student’s comprehensive exam committee shall prepare the exam. The committee chairman shall be responsible for coordinating the preparation of the examination.

  2. Qualifications for taking the examination:

    • a. Exam can not be taken before the semester in which the student is completing all course work required for the Ph.D. degree.

    • b. Student must have a "B" average on all of the coursework completed at the doctoral level at the University of South Carolina.

  3. Length of the examination: Determined by the student’s chairperson and in association with the rest of the student’s committee and the student, the student may take the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination in either of two formats: On-campus in nine hours (three 3-hour questions) or as a take-home examination to be completed within a time-frame determined by the student and student’s chairperson.
    Please note: The Doctoral Written Comprehensive Examination must be formatted using the latest edition of the APA.

  4. Scope of the examination: The student’s committee shall determine the scope of the examination. One of the questions should be a review of the literature based on the student’s area of research interest. In addition, it is recommended that the student’s knowledge be assess in 1) language and literacy; 2) student’s cognate area, and 3) research. The purpose of this examination is to determine how well the student has achieved in the proposed coursework thus far and whether additional courses are to be prescribed for the student to remedy any deficiencies.

  5. Grading the examination:

    • a. Scale: Pass, Fail, or Pass with Honors.

    • b. Scorers: The examination committee shall grade the examination. Additional members shall be appointed when needed to assure expertise in the subject areas covered by the student’s courses.

    • c. Criteria for passing the examination: A majority of the examiners must pass the student by secret ballot after discussion.

    • d. Retaking the examination: A student who fails the examination the first time may take it a second time. The student will retake the examination at the discretion of the chairperson of her/his exam committee. Students who do not pass on the second trial are disqualified from further graduate work toward the Ph.D. degree in the College of Education.

    • e. Final recommendation for student’s curriculum: If the student passes the examination, the examination shall determine the additional courses (if any) the student shall be required to take for the Ph.D. and submit a program adjustment to the Graduate Director representing final recommendations for the student’s curriculum. Additional courses can be added to the student’s program if a majority of the examining committee members are in favor of the additional coursework. The termination of the doctoral oral examination shall represent the final opportunity for the faculty to add to the student’s course requirements.

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