Western Kentucky University

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Comprehensive Examination Policy

The Purpose of the Comprehensive Examination

  • Western Kentucky Graduate School policy stipulates that all students enrolled in master’s-level programs in the University must successfully complete a culminating experience of their master’s-level studies. In the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs the culminating experience is the Comprehensive Examination.
  • The Department’s Master’s-level Comprehensive Examination is intended to be a fair and rigorous test of the student’s mastery of important areas of professional knowledge in (a) the fundamentals of student affairs or counseling theory, research, practice, and ethics/policy, and (b) theory, research, practice, and ethics/policy pertinent to the concentration or specialty in which the student is enrolled (i.e., Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, or Student Affairs). The examinations require each master’s student to demonstrate the ability to understand, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate concepts, ethical principles, policies, research, research design, strategies, techniques, and values derived from the student’s graduate preparation.

Eligibility Criteria for the Comprehensive Examination

  • Students either must be in their final semester of academic study or have completed their all their content courses within the six-year limit, as defined by the Graduate School, for completion of all degree requirements. In addition, students are required to have passed CNS 598 Research and Program Evaluation in Counseling and must have completed all program requirements with a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • The student MUST have on file in the Department Office and/or the Graduate Studies office:
    • Form C – This form should be filed during the first 12 hours of course work. If the graduate school does not have this form on file by the completion of 12 hours, a registration hold will be placed on the student’s record. This hold will not be lifted until the Form C, with all appropriate signatures, is approved by Graduate Studies and is on file in the Graduate Studies office as well as the Departmental office.
    • Form D – This form is to be filed between 12 and 21 hours of completed course work (The Graduate Studies office prefers that at least 21 hours be completed for master’s-level programs requiring more than 36 hours for the degree). If the Form D is not on file in Graduate Studies after the student has completed 21 hours, a registration hold is placed on the student’s record for the following registration term.
    • Comprehensive Exam Application – Written comprehensive examination applications can be obtained on the CEBS website.
    • The exam is offered three times per year: once during the spring, fall, and summer terms. Dates of the test are available well in advance. Therefore, students have ample time to plan their schedules according to the test date. Dates are set by the Office of the Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. Please refer to the CEBS website for specific dates.
    • Applications are due one month prior to the examination. This deadline is strictly administered. Please follow directions on the application for the Comprehensive Examination to ensure that your application will be processed in a timely manner.

Guidelines for Completing the Comprehensive Examination

  • All students will have the same amount of time and follow the same examination procedures unless an exception is pre-approved and authorization has been received from the Departmental Comprehensive Examination Coordinator after consultation with the ADA coordinator.
  • Exceptions to the rules and procedures stated above will be determined by the Comprehensive Examination Coordinator, the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs, the policies of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and the Office of Graduate Studies.
  • Form E - A report to the Graduate Studies verifying successful completion of the Departmental Comprehensive Examination is required. The Coordinator of the Comprehensive Examinations submits this form.

The policy for grading comprehensive exams for the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs (approved 10/31/2012)

  • Students must have a combined score of 70% on the multiple choice portion and the essay portion. Essays will be evaluated with a scoring rubric. The rubric scores will be converted to percentages. The converted percentages from the rubrics and the percent correct on the multiple choice exam will then be averaged for the combined score.
  • In the event that a student does not achieve a 70% combined score, the department faculty will decide on a remediation plan. Possibilities of remediation include oral or written exam.
  • In the event that a student does not pass this remediation plan, a further remediation plan will be developed at the department faculty’s discretion.
 Last Modified 8/12/13