M.A. Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive And Oral Exams Guidelines

Students in the Professional and Technical Communication or Creative Writing concentrations take a standardized comprehensive exam, detailed below. All students, regardless of concentration, must orally defend their thesis or non-thesis project.

  1. The student shall respond in writing to two questions prepared by their advisory committee. The student will have one and one-half hours to respond to each question.
    1. For thesis-option students, the first question will ask the student to discuss some of the teaching techniques they have used, or to discuss the ways they would present information from the thesis or portfolio in a seminar. The second question will ask the student to relate what they learned in writing the thesis or portfolio to literary movements or critical theories or writers not covered in the thesis or portfolio. If the thesis or portfolio deals with pedagogical issues, the student will discuss other theories not included in the research. 

    2. For PTC Portfolio students, the first question will ask the student to discuss an ethical choice or dilemma encountered during the client project, including relevant theorists and/or theoretical frames. The second question will ask the student to discuss specific skills learned or developed while revising their digital artifacts for the portfolio, including ways those skills would transfer to future projects, clients, or professional situations.

  2. The student’s advisory committee shall conduct an oral examination/defense of the thesis or portfolio with the student. This oral exam/defense shall have two parts. First, the student will give a public presentation on their thesis or portfolio. This public presentation will last 20-30 minutes and be open to all members of the English department (at the discretion of the student’s committee chair, guests may ask questions). Next, at the conclusion of this public presentation, all guests not members of the student’s advisory committee shall be dismissed, and the student’s advisory committee shall then conduct and evaluate the thesis or portfolio defense.

  3. The student’s advisory committee will evaluate their performance in items 1 and 2 above. A majority vote of the advisory committee shall determine whether the student passes or fails the comprehensive exam and the thesis or portfolio defense.

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