Department of Psychology

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Departmental Guidelines for all Areas


The examination content: The aim of the examination is to ensure the student has a broad knowledge and critical understanding of the major trends and controversies in the field. In general terms the examination asks broad integrative questions designed to assess the student's understanding of the major trends in the primary literature. Previous examinations are kept on file in the graduate office and are available to students preparing for the examination. Students in the graduate program are required to pass a Comprehensive Exam in their Program area during their Doctoral registration. The timing and details of format, etc. are the responsibility of the Area Chairperson. There are a variety of formats, e.g., in-class, take-home, review paper. Students who wish to appeal the composition of the examining committee may appeal to the Graduate Committee. Appeals should be made at least 8 weeks prior to the examination. See Appeal and Grievance Procedures if a student wishes to appeal a decision of a comprehensive examination committee.

Faculty Responsibility

  1. The responsibility for setting, scheduling, conducting and marking Doctoral Comprehensive Examinations shall devolve on Chairs of relevant areas and their committees. Area Chairs are responsible for providing the Graduate Office with a file copy of the examination and must retain the written examinations for a period of 12 months.
  2. Area chairs shall submit decisions regarding examination results to the Graduate Coordinator within one month of completion of the examination.

Student Responsibility

Students must indicate their intent to write the Comprehensive Examination in their Annual Report.

Retaking of Examinations

Two re-takes/re-submissions of the comprehensive examinations/review papers are permitted with the first re-take/re-submission normally being attempted at the next scheduled examination date. These must be held within one year of the first attempt.