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Journalism and Mass Communications

Comprehensive Exams

Doctoral Comps

The comprehensive examination is required by The Graduate School but is administered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.  Students will take written and oral exams to demonstrate a mastery of their field and will select a committee of four graduate faculty members to serve as their comprehensive exam committee (three SJMC graduate faculty and a graduate faculty member from the student’s outside area of course work) who will each submit a question for the exam.

The written exam covers the four areas of research methods, communication theory, the student’s area of interest in mass communications, and his/her outside area of course work.  This exam is four hours in length per day on four out of five consecutive business days, and the dates/times are scheduled with the student’s committee and the Graduate Student Services Office.  The oral exam explores the subjects covered in the written exam; this exam is scheduled upon successful completion of the written exams as determined by, and in conjunction with, his/her comprehensive exam committee.

An approved Doctoral Committee Appointment Request (pdf) form must be on file before you are able to schedule your comprehensive exam.

After discussing the dates and times with your Written and Oral Comprehensive Examination Committee, you must submit the appropriate form at least two weeks prior to the examination dates.

Master's Comps

Comprehensive Examinations are a one-day process for M.A. and M.M.C students. M.M.C students are allowed four hours and M.A. students are allowed five hours to complete the exams. 

M.A. students take exams in five areas: history, law, research, literature of journalism and theory. 

M.M.C. students take exams in four areas: law, research, media management, and either strategic communication or multimedia journalism.

Students are only eligible to take comps if they have completed all of the core courses listed above. A student may petition the Graduate Council to take the exams if he/she is currently enrolled in one of the final core courses listed above. If a student is enrolled in more than one, he/she must wait until the next time comps are administered to take the exam.

Students must make a valid attempt at answering questions in all areas of the exams. 

You will be working in one of the Mac Labs, so it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the machines if you're a PC person. You should bring a flash drive in order to keep copies of your answers (or you can e-mail your answers to yourself as an attachment). This will help in case you have to do remedial work. You will be asked to e-mail your answers to the Graduate Student Services Manager.

You must submit the Master’s Comprehensive Exam Registration form during the semester that you will be taking comps. Students will be notified of registration deadlines each semester.

Please refer to the Grading of Master's Comprehensive Examinations (pdf) for information on the grading procedures.

Tips for the wise

  • You may bring a lunch but you do not get an official "lunch break."
  • If you're not used to working in an environment with a lot of people, all typing at the same time, it’s a good idea to bring a pair of earplugs.
  • You are free to look at the last exam given in order to better understand the types of questions you may be asked.
  •  Faculty don't plan formal review sessions because, in the past, students haven't come to them. If you want a review session, talk to your colleagues and then the faculty member. Faculty usually are willing to meet with you if you organize a group.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.