Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is intended to familiarize students with some of the most influential books in Religious Studies, and to help prepare students for framing and writing their thesis or portfolio. An updated examination list will be provided to all incoming graduate students and posted on this webpage annually. Incoming students are encouraged to begin familiarizing themselves with the books on the list prior to arriving at MU.

The comprehensive exam is administered electronically. Students receive essay questions via email on the day of the exam and must submit their responses within 24 hours. Students may consult their notes and books during the examination, and they may address questions to the exam's administrator. Students are not permitted to work together on the exam, or to ask for assistance from anyone else during the 24 hour period of the examination.

There will normally only be one exam given each year. Part-time students should notify the Director of Graduate Studies that they are ready to take the examination by March 15th. The examination date will be scheduled in consultation with all examinees. The examination is typically distributed and graded during the second half of May.

Full-time students should normally take the comprehensive exams at the end of their second semester in the program. Part-time students should plan to take the examination after they have completed 18 credit hours in the program. An application for extended time to write the examination or other appropriate accommodations must be filed with the department by March 15th in the year when the student was scheduled to take the test.

Only grades of Pass/Fail are given. Passing the exams is a requirement for continuing in the program. A student who fails the exams may try again, usually at the end of the summer after the first failed attempt. A student may attempt the exams a total of three times. A student who fails the exams three times will normally be discontinued from the program.

The exam questions will be written and graded by a rotating committee of three faculty members. Samples of past exam questions will are kept on file in the department and are accessible to students. Students in the graduate program are encouraged to meet with faculty members while preparing for the comprehensive exam as part of their mentoring and exam preparation.