Graduate Program Comprehensive Exams in Sociology
Students must pass two comprehensive examinations designed to certify expertise in specific areas of sociology. These examinations are typically taken during the fourth year of study, although students with exceptionally strong preparation may take one or both examinations during the third year. Both examinations must be passed before the dissertation proposal may be defended. The Department maintains standing comprehensive examination committees in most major subfields.
We currently offer exams in these areas:
See Collab site "Sociology Comp Exams" for reading lists.
Students who are interested in taking a particular comprehensive examination should obtain an Intent Form and contact the committee chair for that examination. In consultation with the student, the committee chair will select another faculty member to evaluate the student’s examination. The committee chair and second reader will sign the Intent Form, which the student should return to the Graduate Administrative Assistant by the set due date (see Departmental Calendar).
Students with a serious interest in an area of research not covered by the Department’s current list of standing examination committees may petition the Director of Graduate Studies for permission to take a comprehensive examination in that area. Reasonable requests will be accommodated if at least two faculty members are willing and able to serve as an ad hoc examination committee.
Because preparation for a comprehensive examination requires extensive reading, students are strongly encouraged to utilize the summer break between the third and fourth years to prepare for an examination early in the fourth year. For examinations to be taken later in the academic year, students are strongly encouraged to register for a directed reading supervised by a member of the examination committee, and/or non-topical research hours, to allow sufficient time for preparation.
There are three possible evaluations of comprehensive exams: Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail. In case of disagreement among the two examination readers, a third committee member will be called in to evaluate the examination.
A student who fails a comprehensive exam may retake an exam in the same field only once. Repeated failures may result in the student being dropped from the program.
At the completion of the exam, the committee chair will file the evaluated comprehensive examination completion form with the Graduate Administrative Assistant.
Comprehensive examinations cannot be waived.