Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive Examinations: Dates

As of Spring 2014, comprehensive exams are offered during class periods.  If you have questions regarding comprehensive exams, please see your graduate advisor or class instructors.

Below is a reminder of who is eligible to take exams and exam procedures:

Eligibility to take Comprehensive Exams

Eligible MA students have Classified Standing (completion of both SOCI 200A and 201A with a grade of “B” or better, and of all undergraduate prerequisites). If you are taking either 200A or 201A in the Fall, you must wait until the grades for the courses post on your transcript, before being admitted to Classified Standing.


The comprehensive examinations are designed to assess knowledge of theory, research methods, and substantive areas in the M.A. program. They are administered once each semester, and are closed book, proctored exams.

All students must pass comprehensive exams in theory and research methods. Plan B (special study) students must pass two additional area examinations.

Students must take their comprehensive exams within three years of their first semester enrolled in SOCI 200A and SOCI 201A. Students may petition for extensions of one semester on the three-year limit for reasons of health or some other documented difficulty. Students will have two opportunities to pass the theory and methods comprehensive exams. If they do not pass an exam on their first attempt, they must sit a second time for the exam within twelve months. If students fail to pass the exams in two attempts, they will be disqualified from the Master's program.

All Comprehensive Exams must be completed before you may sign up for SOCI 298 or SOCI 299.


The exams will be administered in the computer lab and students are expected to type their own exams.

The times of the exam are as follows:

Area exam: Contact Dr. Amy Leisenring (if needed)

Theory exam: TBA

Method exam: TBA

Check with your instructor for the most up-to-date information and dates/times.

Postponing the Exam

You may notify the Sociology department office (email or phone) by 9:00 am three days BEFORE the exam to withdraw from taking an exam. If you sign up for a comprehensive exam and you do not show up to take the exam, that will count as one of your attempts at the exam. Students who miss the exam due to unforeseen circumstances (accident, illness) without notifying the office or the graduate advisor, must provide appropriate documentation for their absence.


If you need accommodations for test taking because of a disability, please contact the office as soon as possible so arrangements can be made. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the AEC (Accessible Education Center) to establish a record of their disability.

Exam Instructions and Form

The following procedures for administering the Sociology Graduate Comprehensive Examinations became effective Fall 1996, (revised January 1998, June 2007, and August 2008.)

1. All graduate students must take 2 - 4 comprehensive examinations. You have two opportunities to pass an exam. If you do not pass a comprehensive exam in two tries, you will be administratively dismissed from the Sociology M.A. Program. Plan A (Thesis) and Plan C (Project) students will take the theory and research methods exams. Plan B students will take theory and research methods examinations first, plus two additional exams, which consist of two graduate courses taken in the Sociology department at San Jose Staté University taught by two different instructors. [Criminology concentration students following Plan B may choose two graduate - level criminology - related classes (e.g., advanced corrections and advanced criminology) taught by two different instructors.]

Comprehensive exams are only to be taken by students in CLASSIFIED status. Theory and Methods comp exams must be passed before taking area comprehensive exams and before enrolling in Soci 298 or Soci 299.

2. Instructors of graduate seminars will provide a set of comprehensive examinations to the graduate advisor who will keep a test bank for each graduate course.

3. Comprehensive examinations will be prepared and administered on a regular schedule, during the Fall and Spring semesters. Exams will be closed-book, closed-notebook, and on-site. There is a limit of two exams per test date. Each exam on-site will be 3 hours maximum. Approximately 13 DAYS before the test day, students will receive a study sheet for the closed-book, closed-notebook, on-site exams.

Exam results will be reported as: “PASS”, or “FAIL/NOT PASSED”. Students who fail any single exam twice will be disqualified from the MA program.