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Doctoral Degree Comprehensive Oral Exams


To define the eligibility and requirements for doctoral comprehensive oral exams at the University of Kansas.

Applies to: 

All Lawrence/Edwards Campus Graduate students

Policy Statement: 

Scheduling the Comprehensive Exam
When a doctoral aspirant has met all program and school requirements prerequisite to the comprehensive oral examination, the department will request the graduate division of its school to schedule the comprehensive oral examination. The examination request must be submitted at least two (2) weeks in advance of the intended examination date. The graduate division may indicate an earlier scheduling deadline. 

Prior to scheduling the exam, it is the responsibility of the graduate program to verify that: 
1. The student has completed the major portion of the coursework at a level satisfactory to the graduate degree program and school.
2. The student is in good academic standing including a 3.0 or higher cumulative graduate grade point average. 
3. There are no grades of I (Incomplete) on the student’s transcript (per University Senate Rules and Regulations
4. The Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement is completed or will be completed the same semester as the exam.
5. The student has completed the minimum enrollment outlined in the Engagement and Enrollment in Doctoral Programs policy.
6. At least five (5) months have elapsed from the time of the aspirant’s first enrollment at KU. 
The Graduate Division ascertains whether all pertinent requirements have been satisfied and if reports of any previously scheduled comprehensive oral examinations have been properly submitted and recorded.
Administration of the Exam
Prior to scheduling, the unit should ensure that the student has been given information about the format and general expectations for the exam. The committee for the comprehensive oral examination must adhere to the requirements outlined in the Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee Composition and Graduate Studies Representative on Doctoral Exam Committees policies. 
The comprehensive oral examination covers the major field and any extra-departmental work for which the program wishes to hold the aspirant responsible. To pass the exam, the student must receive a majority of assenting votes (e.g., three [3] of four [4] votes). For every scheduled examination, the degree program reports a grade of  Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, or, at the option of unit, Honors. Upon successful completion, the student is designated a candidate for the degree. (Please see Doctoral Candidacy policy for requirements specific to this stage). If the aspirant receives a grade of Unsatisfactory, it may be repeated on the recommendation of the degree program, but under no circumstances may it be taken more than three (3) times. In any case, departments, schools, and the College will determine appropriate minimum intervals between attempts.
Exam Expiration and Recertification
Under normal circumstances, the doctoral candidacy period between passage of the oral comprehensive examination and the final dissertation defense must last no longer than five (5) years. If a student took the oral comprehensive examination more than five (5) years prior to the scheduled date of the dissertation defense, a re-evaluation of the student’s candidacy status is necessary. Re-evaluation will be managed by the graduate division of the school/College in which the student’s program resides and may result in the requirement to retake the comprehensive oral examination.

Graduate Studies

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Effective on: 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)

This policy reflects the practices that have been in place at the University of Kansas for a number of years.

Doctoral degree comprehensive exams, Graduate Studies representative, Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship policy
Change History: 

01/02/2024: Corrected spelling/grammar and fixed links.
08/10/2023: Reorganization of policy content, removal of content repeated in other policies, clarification of majority vote requirement, inclusion of exam expiration content from retired policy, and affirmation of a deadline for scheduling exams.
07/07/2023: Fixed broken links, policy formatting, changed approved by to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.
06/25/2020: Changed Dean of Graduate Studies to Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
11/27/2017: Updated Policy Statement. 
12/04/2015: Technical edits.
10/2014: Reviewed and updated by Graduate Studies.

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