Master's Comprehensive Examinations

Reference Number: S79-042
Senate Approval Date: Monday, January 01, 1979



At its meeting of March 13,
1979, the Academic Senate approved the following recommendation for master's
comprehensive examinations by its Academic Policies Committee and the Graduate

Graduate programs at San
Francisco State University require a culminating element which may vary
considerably from program to program.
It may be a thesis, creative work, internship or field experience,
comprehensive examination, or other approved activity. In those graduate programs where a
comprehensive examination is required, the general purpose of the examination
is to provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate analytical ability,
insight and competence in the major field.

The type and scope of the
master's comprehensive examination are determined by the department or program
area involved. The examination may
be written or oral; sometimes both are required in a given graduate program.

The University has
established minimal guidelines for the administration of written and oral
comprehensive examinations.
Schools and departments may adopt additional requirements.

General Requirements

1. Upon
being admitted to a program which requires the master's comprehensive
examination, the candidate should discuss with graduate major advisor or
coordinator the purpose, scope, and characteristics of the examination. At a time specified by the major
department, the candidate should confer with the graduate major advisor about
scheduling and other arrangements for the examination.

2. The
graduate major advisor or other graduate faculty (as defined in the Graduate
Bulletin) designee of the department is responsible for scheduling the
examination and securing the participation of other appropriate members of the
faculty in the process.

3. The
examining committees for both written and oral comprehensive examinations must
consist of a minimum of two members of the graduate faculty from the major

4. The
major department is responsible for notifying the candidate of the results of
an examination, passed or failed, within a reasonable period of time, typically
no longer than two weeks.

5. The
graduate major advisor is responsible for obtaining the signatures of the Chair
of the Examining Committee and at least one additional member of the examining
committee on the "Report of Examinations" form for both passes and
failures, and for forwarding it to the Graduate Division Office by the deadline
date indicated in the University calendar.

6. The
department should provide an opportunity for a candidate who fails a
comprehensive examination the first time to take it at least one more
time. Conditions for repeating an
examination (e.g., number of times, elapse of time necessary) should be stated
in printed information describing the graduate program, including the Graduate
Division Bulletin

Written Comprehensive

A written examination should
be thorough and searching within the discipline. It should be administered at a time specified well in
advance. Careful attention should
be given to constructing, proctoring and reading the examination. The graduate major advisor is
responsible for providing timely notification within the department.

Oral Comprehensive

An oral examination should
be scheduled to allow ample time for the candidate to demonstrate the extent of
competence in the discipline. The
graduate major advisor is responsible for notifying colleagues and students of
the time and place of the examination, the name of the student to be examined,
the members of the examining committee, the general areas to be covered, and
whether or not specified non-faculty observers may attend. This should be done at least a week in
advance of the examination date.

Only official members of the
student's examination committee may participate in the proceedings, but other
faculty members of the department may be present as observers.