The comprehensive exam is comprised of four elements:
- Emphasis core courses: The purpose of this requirement is for the students to have a breadth of knowledge and practical understanding in their particular emphasis area.
- Synthesis paper: The purpose of this requirement is to prepare the students early on their scientific reading and writing abilities.
- Computing artifact: As the program grants a PhD in Computing, the purpose of this requirement is that students who graduate from this program will be able to make a contribution in their respective emphasis areas through computation.
- Oral presentation: This is a presentation of the content of the synthesis paper and a formal examination on advanced knowledge necessary for the synthesis paper and computing artifact.