There is no standard definition for what such exams entail, with some universities having almost no exam, whilst at other universities the process is quite rigorous.
The exams thus take a number of forms, including an informal meeting of just a few hours, a critical review of one's academic portfolio, the submission of an academic paper which may take several hours or months to write, or a series of proctored exams taking anywhere from a few hours to two days.
Unlike final examinations, comprehensive examinations are not linked to any particular course, but rather test knowledge across one or more general fields of study.
Graduate-level comprehensive examinations are sometimes also known as preliminary examinations ("prelims"), general examinations ("generals"), qualifying examinations ("quals"), or as major field examinations.
As students work on completing their field statements and finishing up their coursework, they should also work on developing a proposal for Ph. However, because of the interdisciplinary nature of much anthropological research, the Graduate School will also allow dissertation proposal committees in this program to include only three members of the Graduate Faculty in Anthropology and one person from another graduate program at Rutgers or from another university.
Students are expected to successfully defend their proposal before the end of their third year in the program (or second year if they entered with an M. A normally consists of the student’s principal advisor and at least three additional members of the Graduate Faculty of Anthropology.If these examinations are held orally, they may be known colloquially as "orals". The form and general requirements for the comprehensive exam vary according to the faculty or department, degree sought, university, and country, but typically tests knowledge of the student's subject area and two or more related areas, and may be used to determine a candidate's eligibility to continue his or her course of study.The comps most commonly come after the student has completed required coursework and before starting on the dissertation; successful passage of the comps is sometimes required for a student to be considered a "Ph. At the graduate level, the purpose of the comprehensive exam is to ensure the student is familiar enough with her area of research to make original contributions.These include Texas A&M-Commerce Honors College, The University of Virginia's Politics Honors Program, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Mass Communications program.In some terminal non-thesis Master's programs, successful completion of a comprehensive examination, conducted online or through the university's testing center, is a requirement for graduation during a student's last semester of coursework. A comprehensive exam may also be required for a master's degree earned on the way to the completion of a doctoral program.A dissertation proposal defense may only take place after the student has completed at least 48 credits of coursework and had their two field statements approved by the Graduate Faculty.At the defense, students should be prepared to discuss their research proposal, to relate their intended research to wider anthropological scholarship, and to make informed responses to any relevant critiques.Although many students find it useful to do some preliminary data collection before their dissertation proposal defense, students are normally expected to wait to conduct the bulk of their dissertation-related data collection until after they have successfully defended their proposals and thus become Ph. that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study, and also by undergraduate students in some institutions and departments. A good dissertation proposal typically includes a review of the literature, an explication of how or why the student's specific subject or approach will constitute a significant contribution to the anthropological literature, a methodological section, a tentative timetable for research, and, if appropriate, a budget.Independent scholars deemed qualified by the Graduate School may also serve as outsiders.