Procedures for Completion of Comprehensive Exams for Doctoral Candidates in Educational Psychology (School)

Each student must complete a two-part Comprehensive Examination process. Part I involves achieving a minimum score on the State Specialty Examination in School Psychology, administered by ETS. Part II involves the comprehensive written examination. The process for completing Part I and II is outlined below:

  1. The candidate’s doctoral committee may serve as his or her examining committee. However, if the doctoral committee does not include two members of the school psychology core faculty, then the School Psychology Core Committee will assign a member of the school psychology faculty to the examining committee.
  2. Prior to taking the written examination, the candidate must complete and have on file a passing score on the State School Psychology exam (presently 165 or higher). This is typically completed between the second and third years of the program.
  3. Comprehensive written examinations will take place during a two-week period in the fall and spring semesters and will be primarily based on the candidate’s portfolio. Candidates must submit in writing to the chair of the candidate’s doctoral committee his or her intentions to complete comprehensives by the second Monday of the term (August/September or January) in which the candidate wishes to complete the exam.
  4. The core committee will release specific dates for preliminary exams following their first meeting of the fall and spring semesters. The written examination and portfolio submission will take place during the fifth or sixth week of the same term, with the oral defense to take place within three weeks of the written portion. Failure to meet these deadlines will cancel the candidate’s opportunity to complete the examination during that cycle. Scheduling of written and oral comprehensives will be done in order of request by candidates.
  5. The written portion of the exam will consist of three parts:
    • By the date specified by the core committee for submission of written materials, the candidate’s portfolio will be made available to the members of the committee for review. Members of the committee will rate the level of quality of the student’s evidence for competently completing the program’s goals based on the portfolio rubrics developed for rGrade. The committee will have the option to meet in person or via email to discuss the student’s portfolio performance. Acceptable performance will be determined by an average rating of 3 or higher for each of the major goal areas. If the portfolio meets this criteria, the portfolio portion of the examination will be considered “passed,” If not, the student will be given feedback regarding areas of weakness and will be asked to resubmit a stronger portfolio prior to the oral examination. 
    • One week before the date specified by the core committee for the written portion of the examination, the candidate will be provided with 6 to 10 questions by the chair of the doctoral committee drawn from the bank of standard questions developed and approved by the school psychology core committee. The actual core examination will consist of 3 questions (or 6 questions paired so that the candidate chooses 3 chosen by the doctoral chair and at least two other members of the committee from the 6 to 10 questions already provided to the candidate). The candidate schedules 3 hours during a 1-week period to sit and write responses to the questions (e.g., 3 hours on 1 day; 2 hours and 1 hour on 2 consecutive days). The selected question is given out prior to the session, not as a group at the beginning of the prelim. The total question bank will be available to students who wish to begin preparation for preliminary exams one semester before their actual planned examination period.
    • The cognate examination will be developed by the cognate representative in consultation with the chair of the committee, or (if the chair is also the cognate representative) with a second member of the committee. These two members of the committee will determine the format of the cognate exam. Possible formats might include (but are not limited to) questions for which the student would have 6 hours to write responses during the examining period or a paper (e.g., review of literature or pilot study) to be submitted during the examining period. Although the paper option may be related to the student’s dissertation topic, the paper cannot be used directly as any chapter of the dissertation. The chair of the committee will collect the written examination responses for the core and cognate areas and make them available to committee members so that each may read the total examination.
  6. The chair will call a meeting of the committee with the student not present (this may occur immediately prior to the oral portion of the examination) to:
    • Discuss the quality of the portfolio and the examination responses, individually and as a whole.
    • Agree on the evaluation of the student's performance on the written examination.
    • Agree on areas to be emphasized in the oral examination if the written examination warrants completion of the comprehensives.
  7. The student schedules, in consultation with the chair, the oral portion of the comprehensive examination within three weeks (exclusive of vacation periods) after the written portion has been completed.
  8. The committee agrees, in private session subsequent to completion of the oral examination, on the results of the comprehensive examinations. If two or more committee members dissent, the student fails the examination and it must be repeated per University policy and procedures.
  9. Upon successful completion of the comprehensives examinations, the student may commence with the submission of the dissertation proposal.

It is important to note that the comprehensive exams must be completed and passed (along with an approved dissertation proposal) prior to a student applying for a professional internship.

Admission to Candidacy for the Doctoral Degree

Students may apply for admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree after completing a minimum of 30 hours of graduate work beyond the master’s degree with an outstanding scholastic record, satisfactorily passed the comprehensive examinations, and submitted a satisfactory plan for the proposed dissertation.