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Counseling and Student Affairs

Student Affairs
Graduation & Comprehensive Exams


Applying for Graduation

When do I apply for graduation?

You are required to complete the application for graduation the semester prior to completing your program (i.e. if you are scheduled to graduate Spring or Summer 2018, you must apply for graduation Fall 2017). See the details below for more information on applying for the comprehensive exam.

Where do I apply for graduation?

The application for graduation and required fee ($55) must be submitted through TopNet. After you log in, go to Student Services > Student Record > .Application for Graduation. The WKU required fee covers the cost of printing, auditing your degree, and your cap and gown. This fee must be paid even if you decide not to participate in the commencement ceremony. For more information, visit the WKU Graduate Application page.

Comprehensive Exams

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. It is intended to be a fair and rigorous test of the student’s mastery of important areas of professional knowledge in:

  1. the fundamentals of student affairs or counseling theory, research, practice, and ethics/policy, and
  2. 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 Requirements

Computer examThe following requirements must be met to take the comprehensive examination:

  1. application for graduation upon earning 18 graduate hours;
  2. completion of any required research foundations and/or specified research course(s) on the program of study;
  3. be currently enrolled in the last semester of the degree program or have completed all content course work associated with the program;
  4. be in good standing academically; and
  5. completion of any additional requirements as specified by the department(s) directing the program.

Students should contact their program advisors for information about the specific comprehensive exam policy for that program. Students must also have on file in the Department Office and/or the Graduate Studies office the following:

  • Program of Study 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 Program of Study, with all appropriate signatures, is approved by Graduate Studies and is on file in the Graduate Studies office as well as the Departmental office.
  • Comprehensive Exam Application obtained below. 

Who is required to take the comprehensive exam?

All students in the counseling master’s degree program are required to take and successfully pass "comps." 

When do I take the exam?

The comprehensive exam is offered three times per year, once each semester. It can only be taken during the final semester of your program. Check the Dates & Deadlines on the right for the date, details, instructions, and application. An email may also be sent out on the listserv notifying you of the application deadline and the date, time, and place of the exam. You need to take care of any “Incomplete” (X) or “In Progress” (IP) grades on your transcript before you will be cleared to take the comprehensive exam.

Applications are due one month prior to the examination. This deadline is strictly enforced (there are no exceptions).  Students should follow directions on the application to ensure a timely processes of their application. Late applications will delay when students are eligible to take their comprehensive examinations and will delay their graduation until the semester they have passed their comprehensive examinations.

To help you in planning, the dates below provide the tentative annual schedule for when the exams will be offered. Application dates are at the beginning of the semesters in which you plan to take the exam. The exams are typically conducted from 8:30am-1pm on the Saturdays indicated below:

  • Fall comps (December graduation)
    • Application due September 1
    • Exam on the last Saturday in September 
  • Spring comps (May graduation)
    • Application due February 1
    • Exam on the last Saturday in February
  • Summer comps (August graduation,
    even if you walk in the May WKU graduation ceremony
    • Application due May 1
    • Exam on the first Saturday in June

How do I prepare for comps?

  1. Complete the department application by the deadline.
    1. Save your application with your file name in the following format: LastName_CompsAppSp17
    2. Email your completed application to directly to Belinda Wisdom at belinda.wisdom@wku.eduor fax it to (270) 745-5031
  2. Once you have applied through the department, you will be notified of your approval to complete the comprehensive exam if all qualifications are met.
  3. As you await the exam date, review your materials from all classes to help prepare you for the exam. You may also talk to classmates who have previously taken them exam to find out what helped them prepare and successfully pass the exam. In addition, take part in group study sessions.

What should I expect from comps?

  1. Arrive at the testing center by 8:30am to sign in, identify your seat, and receive your test and instructions. The exam should begin by 9am.
  2. The comprehensive exam is comprised of a 100-question multiple choice exam and a written exam (two essay questions). You will be given four hours to complete this exam but most students finish in less time. A passing score will be determined based on an average of the two scores from each exam.
  3. You must successfully pass both portions of the comprehensive exam to graduate.  If a passing score is not received, you must meet with the program faculty to discuss the next step.

Dates & Deadlines

  • May 1, 2019 Deadline to register for summer comps (summer graduates only). Review the details and instructions at the center of this page and complete the application.
  • May 2019 WKU graduation ceremony (5-7pm, Diddle Arena).
  • Jun 1, 2019 Summer Comp Exams (8:30am-1pm)
  • Sep 1, 2019 Deadline to register for fall comps (fall grads only). Review the details and instructions at the center of this page and complete the application.
  • Sep 28, 2019 Fall Comp Exams (8:30am-1pm)
  • Feb 1, 2020 Deadline to register for spring comps (spring graduates only). Review the details and instructions at the center of this page and complete the application.
  • February 29, 2020 Spring Comp Exams (8:30am-1pm)

Helpful Links





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 Last Modified 4/5/19