Comprehensive Exam Requirements

To be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree and begin work on a dissertation, students must first pass comprehensive exams in (1) Theory in Criminology and Criminal Justice and (2) Research Methods and Statistics. To take a comprehensive exam, students must first obtain the written or e-mailed approval of their major professor, certifying that they are prepared. The professor’s approval must be submitted to the graduate coordinator at least two weeks before the exam.

Students who fail a comprehensive exam a second time will be dismissed from the program. Both comprehensive exams must be passed within five years of admission to the graduate program if admitted with a bachelor’s degree only or within three years of admission if admitted with a master’s degree.

Students must also take and pass a dissertation Prospectus Development course under the supervision of their major professor. This is a Directed Individual Study course (CCJ 5981r) titled Prospectus Development, graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Students are admitted to candidacy upon passing both the Theory and Methods comprehensive exams, and they may take dissertation hours at the same time as the Prospectus Development course.

Students admitted to the graduate program prior to December 17, 2008 have the option of operating under the comprehensive exam rules as described above, including the time limits for passing exams, or they can operate under the older rules that prevailed at the time they were admitted. Under the rules prevailing prior to December 17, 2008, there are no time limits on when the comprehensive exams have to be passed and students are not required to take the Prospectus Development course. However, under these rules, students are required to take both exams in the same semester (unless they have already passed one of the exams) and are required to pass a Substantive Area exam in their area of specialization.

Exam Administration and Grading

The exams will each be created and graded by a faculty committee. The Theory and Methods Exams will each be graded by a standing College exam committee, the Comprehensive Exam in Theory Committee and the Comprehensive Exam in Methods and Statistics Committee, respectively. These committees will typically be composed of five College faculty members, appointed annually by the dean. For students operating under the old exam rules, the Substantive Area Exam will be created and graded by a Substantive Area Exam Committee made up of at least three FSU faculty members, at least two of them in the College. The committee will be determined by the major professor and the student and may or may not include a member from outside the College. The content of the exam will be determined by the student’s exam committees. Each exam will be graded pass or fail. The Theory and Methods Exam will be offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. They are generally scheduled in early November and in late March to early April. The exam dates vary depending on dates for national professional conferences. Students typically complete their Substantive Area Exam during the semester following successful completion of the other two exams. The form of the Substantive Area Exam is determined by the doctoral committee in consultation with the student. It may be a sit-down or take-home exam or a specialized writing assignment. For example, a number of students have completed the literature review chapter of their dissertation in order to fulfill this requirement. There is generally about a two-week turn-around time between exam completion and the results announcement. The results will ordinarily be communicated orally to the student by the major professor and later in writing from the dean. The chair of each exam committee will certify the exam results in a letter or e-mail to the dean, with a copy to the graduate coordinator. Exam results are reported to the Office of the Registrar for the student’s permanent record.

Theory and Methods Exam Conditions

Each student will take exams at the FSU testing center. Students may not bring books, notes, computers, computer files, or any other study aids into the exam room. Exams last eight hours. Although it is expected that most students will type their answers on a computer using word processing software, accommodations can be made for those who find this difficult. Accommodations for physical or learning disabilities that have been certified by the FSU Student Disability Resource Center will also be made if the accommodations are approved in advance by the relevant exam committee. When a student takes possession of the exam at the start of the exam period, the student is considered to have made an attempt at taking the exam, regardless of whether he or she completes the exam, hands in any answers, or remains for the full exam period. At that point, the exam can have one of only two outcomes for the student: Pass or Fail. However, should extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control arise during the exam period, the relevant exam committee may take these circumstances into account, and decide that the student’s efforts did not constitute an attempt that would count against the student.