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Comprehensive Exams for MA in Mathematics

To complete the MA in Mathematics, comprehensive exams (also known as comps) in mathematics are required. 

Exam Details

Two comprehensive exams – one depth and one breadth – are taken in either the second to last or last semester of the MA in Mathematics program.

Depth: Choose one class from the required math courses (MATH 501, 503, 511, 512, 515) for this exam. This choice must be made at the beginning of the semester that comprehensive exams are taken. Once this choice of course is made, it cannot be changed. If a student is enrolled in a core class during the semester they take comps, that course cannot be chosen as depth.

Breadth: The breath comp will be made of questions from three of the four other core courses. If a student is currently enrolled in a core course at the time they take comps, then that course will not be included in the breadth. If they have taken all core courses by the time they take comps then they will choose which three of the four courses that will be included. In the rare case that a student is in 2 core classes at the time of comps, the student will work directly with the MA Program Coordinator on a case-by-case basis.

Exam Scheduling & Timing

Testing windows will run Saturday to Saturday to give students more flexibility. Tests will be given the third full weeks of March, June, and October. Students will be given 5 hours to take the two exams, but they will be written to complete within 4 hours. Note that testing center hours of opertaion do provide a possible constraint.

Schedule Comps Form

At the beginning of the semester that you plan to take comps, please fill out this form to pick your depth exam and schedule when you will take the exam.

Please select the week in which you want to take your comprehensive exams.

Each selection is for the third full week of the month (Saturday to Saturday)

Please select a core course for your depth exam.

You cannot be enrolled in this course during the same semester you take comps. This choice cannot be changed.

Please THREE courses for your breadth exam.

Select THREE courses. You cannot be enrolled in these courses during the same semester you take comps. Nor can you select a course you have yet to take.


The earliest you can take comps is in your second to last semester. You can also take them in the semester that you plan to graduate. The benefit of taking them in the second to last semester is it provides additional flexibility if needed. Talk with your advisor about specifics!

Each exam is designed to take roughly 2 hours. There is a 5 hour testing window.

Your comp questions are selected by the instructor who taught you the course for your depth and breath. Therefore, they will only ask questions from content that was covered in the class in the semester that you took it.

We understand that renting books does sound good, but we recommend purchasing used version of your textbooks instead. 1) They will be helpful when studying for comps. 2) It's always good as a math teacher to have some textbooks on hand!

You can take comps at any approved testing site, just like you did for your exams in some of your classes.

If you are taking comps and are enrolled in one of the 5 required courses, that course will not appear on your breadth exam and you will not choose it as your depth exam.


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 Last Modified 9/7/23