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Comprehensive Exam

The purpose of the comprehensive exam in a PhD program is to determine the preparedness of students to perform tasks composing the scientific research process in the field of computing.  This includes having knowledge in core areas of their specific emphasis, understanding relevant scientific literature, designing and writing software components, and presenting technical information both orally and in writing.

Please refer to Appendix B in the Student Handbook for detailed comprehensive exam procedures and a helpful checklist.

About the Comp Exam


Can I take the comp exam in the summer?

Students may complete their comprehensive exam in the summer, but should be aware of the abridged timeline they will need to adhere to. Presentations must be completed 1 week before the final day of course instruction refer to the current academic calendar for the exact date.

Before requesting a permission number for summer comprehensive exam students must confirm that all of their committee members are available during the summer months.

Students must work with their advisor to set firm deadlines for when they will send their work to the committee for review and set a presentation deadline early on so that committee members can plan accordingly.

Can I complete core classes in the same semester I complete the comp exam?

Yes. With advisor approval you may complete the required core courses in the same semester you complete the comp exam. If you plan to take core courses concurrently you will document it on the Pre-Registration form and your advisor will sign off.

If you do not earn a B or better in a required core class taken concurrently with the comprehensive exam this will result in failure of that exam element and you will need to request a retake as outlined in the student handbook.

What are the deadlines for completing the comp exam?

Registration:  Students may register for Comput 691Comprehensive Exam up until the 2nd week of classes. Submit the Pre-registration form to request a permission number.

Presentation – Presentations must be scheduled to occur at least 1 week before the final day of course instruction. Refer to the current academic calendar for the exact date. Submit the Presentation Notification form to notify the program once it’s been scheduled.

Comp Exam Form – The Comprehensive Exam form must be submitted by the last day of course instruction. Refer to the current academic calendar for the exact date. If the form has not been submitted by that date a grade of F will be entered.

Who is the CompEE?

The Comprehensive exam External Evaluator (CompEE) is a computing faculty member appointed by the program co-directors. They read your synthesis paper, look at your computing artifact, and attend your oral presentation. They also vote on if you pass the comp exam. They must attend your comp exam presentation.