The comprehensive examination is scheduled when the student and the advisor believe that competence in the specialty or specialties has been achieved. Normally the process occurs after the student has completed nearly all of his/her coursework, although Graduate School regulations stipulate that the testing can take place as soon as five months after enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Admittance to the examination is by approval of the GSC. In petitioning for admittance, the student must submit the following materials at least three weeks prior to the scheduled examination (forms are available for 1 and 2 in the departmental office).
1. a program sheet listing courses taken, grades received, etc.
2. demonstration that the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirements have been satisfied. (see description above).
3. demonstration that the Residency Requirement has been satisfied (see description above).
4. a written dissertation proposal approved by the advisor (see guidelines on previous pages of
5. a list of examination committee members. The Graduate School requires that the committee
consist of at least five members of the graduate faculty. This consists of the student’s
advisor and four additional members. The student’s advisor must have at least a partial FTE
appointment (i.e., tenured or tenure-track) within the Department of Geography. Should the
student desire an advisor outside of the department, a departmental co-advisor is required.
At least one member must be from a KU department outside of geography and at least three
members must represent the department. Members are chosen by the student in consultation
with the advisor on the basis of expertise in the areas of specialization. They must also be
approved by the GSC and recommended by the department to the Graduate School.
6. The date and time proposed for the oral portion of the examination.
The comprehensive examination normally focuses on the student's areas of specialization, including proposed dissertation research. It consists of two parts: written questions submitted by the committee members and then an oral examination. At least four members of the committee must submit written questions. The procedure is for each examiner to give his/her questions to the chair of the student's committee at least one week before the written examinations begin. The committee chair has the responsibility of screening these questions for overlap and clarity, and then administering them, one set per day. The questions may be open-book or closed at the discretion of the individual submitting the questions, and the student normally will have up to eight hours to complete each set of questions. At the conclusion of the written portion of the examination, the committee chair will poll the committee. A majority of the members must approve their individual written portions of the examination in order for the second (oral) portion to take place. In the oral section, students often are asked to elaborate and comment on their
Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Procedures:
In order to give committee members sufficient time to read and discuss responses to the written comprehensive examination questions, at least seven (7) calendar days must elapse between the date of the last written exam question and the meeting for the oral examination. The gap between the last written exam question and the oral exam may be up to 30 calendar days. Any exceptions to these policies must be unanimously agreed upon by all examination committee members and the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.