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.

Both comprehensive exams must be passed within four years of admission to the Ph.D program.

A doctoral student must be registered for the preliminary exam during the semester in which they complete the attempt (up to two attempts possible for each exam).  Each exam attempt will be graded and noted on the student’s transcript as a Pass (P) or Fail (F).

If a student fails the preliminary examination before being admitted to candidacy, a re-examination may be offered by the student’s supervisory committee or other relevant decision making body within each department or unit, per that department or unit’s doctoral student handbook. The Academic Dean’s office should be notified of the outcome of any preliminary exam attempt.

Students can take the preliminary examination for admission to candidacy only two times. A second failure on the preliminary exam makes the student ineligible to continue in the degree program. The second attempt at the preliminary exam shall occur no sooner than six full class weeks after the results of the first attempt are shared with the student. For the purpose of this policy, a “full class week” is defined as a week with five days during which classes are held at FSU. Students must be registered separately for their first and second attempt, if necessary within the same semester, and must receive either a “pass” or a “fail” grade for each attempt.

An exception request regarding the timing of the re-examination can be submitted for consideration to the Academic Dean’s Office by either the student or the supervisory committee. Students who allege that academic regulations and/or procedures were improperly applied for the re-examination of their preliminary exam may have their grievances addressed through the general academic appeals process.

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.

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. 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. 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.

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