Category Archives: The Comprehensive Exam Requirement

If fall 2022 will be your final semester in the program, one of your fall courses must be ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis

All students must take ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis during whatever is your final semester in the program. So, if this fall will be your final semester in the program, then one of your fall courses must be ENGL 599. The steps for registering for ENGL 599 are unlike for any other course. Refer to this post for details on how to register for ENGL 599. And be sure to contract the program director at with any questions, or for help with getting set for ENGL 599.

Note as well that prior to entering your final semester, students need to complete the comprehensive exam. Full comp exam instructions will be emailed to students soon after completing the process for registering for ENGL 599 (the way we know who needs to take the comp exam is by tracking who has registered for ENGL 599). A general overview of the comp exam can be found here on the blog. Again, any questions please contract the director at

It’s time to take the Comp Exam (Those who plan to take 599 this fall)

If you’re planning to be in ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial this fall, now is the time to request and complete your comprehensive exam (if you have not already done so). You obtain the exam by emailing me at and simply informing me that you need to take the exam. All potential 599 students must do this, and must successfully complete the comp exam before beginning the final 599 tutorial course. As with all elements in the program, you can complete the exam via distance learning. Upon your email prompt I reply with the exam instructions. You then have a limited amount of time in which to complete the exam following the instructions I provide, after which you email your exam responses back to me. Faculty here then evaluate the exam. So if you are approaching your final semester and are getting ready for 599, make sure you contact me asap to request and complete the comprehensive exam. -CL

The Comprehensive Exam

The Comprehensive Exam is an essay exam which all students must take and pass in the time between the penultimate and ultimate semesters in the program. All students preparing to enter their final semester and hoping to take their ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial  must pass the Comp Exam in order to do so. The Comp Exam therefore functions as a gateway to the final semester.

So how do you take the exam? Upon completing your penultimate semester, contact me ( and request the Comp Exam. I will then send you the exam instructions as an attachment. You then have ten days in which to open the attachment and respond to its instructions. There’s no big secret here: the exam asks you to write two essay responses to your choice of a list of topic questions. The questions are phrased in a way where you can apply anything you’ve studied in the program to your answer. Students don’t always read the same exact materials over the course of the program and this is taken into account in the phrasing of the questions. The questions don’t exactly “test” you as much as they give you a platform to really show us what you know and how you think.

Though you have a ten day window in which to administer the exam to yourself, the exam itself only allows four hours. This gives you time to write two brief essays that show what you know. The exam is administered on the honor system: we trust students on their honor to adhere to the four hour limit, and to keep the questions confidential.  The essay responses must be returned within ten days at which point faculty in the program will assess them.