Prior to taking comprehensive examinations, students should complete all course work and earn a 3.4 GPA for graduate Political Science courses taken at GSU. Additionally, students must register for 3 hours of POLS 8900 in the semester in which they elect to stand for comprehensive examinations.
The graduate faculty of the Department of Political Science adopted the following procedures for Ph.D. comprehensive examinations. The goal of these procedures is to develop a usable system that can accurately assess the student's ability in each area.
- Examinations with be offered in February and September of each year.
- Ph.D. students will be tested by a two-person committee in each of the areas selected. The graduate director will appoint the committees on a rotating basis among faculty members. All examiners must be from those faculty teaching graduate courses in the area. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor and faculty in their major areas well before exams to discuss the scope and form of the questions and to receive an evaluation as to whether the student is prepared for the examination.
- To aid students in preparing for comprehensive examinations, workshops addressing comprehensive exam expectations and preparation are held each semester and students are encouraged to attend well before the semester in which they will be taking exams.
- For students admitted prior to Fall 2013: All students will take three written comprehensive exams; one area of examination may be defined as a sub-field in one of the major areas of political science in which a student is being examined. If a sub-field is selected, the topic and relevant coursework must be approved by the graduate director.
- For students admitted for Fall 2013 and after: All students will take two written comprehensive exams in a major field. Permissible fields are: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, methods, political theory and public law. Within 90 days of successful completion of exams, students will submit and have approved a major area paper (see below).
- The written comprehensive exams will each be eight hours in length. Exams will be administered in a take-home format. Exams will be emailed to the students at exactly 9am on the day the exam is scheduled, and exams need to be returned to the Department before 5pm the same day. They must be completed individually with no external assistance. Students will be allowed to make use of written and printed materials during the exam, as well as internet and electronic materials. However, the use of sources without proper attribution and collaboration with any other individual are strictly prohibited. Students will sign an honor pledge in advance of taking their exams stating that they agree to abide by these policies and informing them that the consequences for plagiarism or collaboration will be severe, including the possibility of dismissal from the program.
- Individual examination committees, at their discretion, may require students to complete an oral examination. This would normally be required in cases where the written examination is judged to be on the border between pass and fail. In cases where committees require an oral examination, no result will be communicated to students before the oral examination takes place, although feedback on the written exam may be provided. Oral examinations will normally take 30 minutes to one hour per subject. After the oral, the committee will then consider the student's performance on both the oral and the written components in rendering its decision. This decision will not normally be given to the student immediately following the oral, although committees should attempt to let students know their results as quickly as possible.
- Students have two chances to pass each of their comprehensive examinations. Students unable to pass any of their examinations after a second attempt will be scholastically terminated.
- Students who successfully pass their comprehensive examinations should formally constitute their dissertation committees within 6 weeks of successful passage and should schedule a joint meeting with their committee members to discuss the direction of the dissertation project.
- For students admitted prior to Fall 2013: Students must defend their dissertation proposals within 2 semesters of successful passage of comprehensive exams.
- For students admitted for Fall 2013 and later: Students must have their major area paper read and approved within 90 days of successful passage of comprehensive exams (see below); students’ dissertation proposals must be defended within 90 days of their major area paper being approved.
- A complete guide to comprehensive examination procedures and expectations is available from the Assistant to the Graduate Director.
Major Area Paper [for students admitted Fall 2013 and later]
· Within 90 days of successfully passing their written comprehensive exams, students will write a major area paper. Major area topics must be related to the student’s proposed dissertation interests and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies as well as a member of the faculty from the student’s primary field.
· Major area papers will be read and reviewed at a set date each semester (90 days after the last comprehensive exams were returned) by committees composed of three members of the graduate faculty of the Political Science Department. Two members of the field paper committee will be specialists in the chosen topic area or in a related field; the third field paper committee member will be someone whose primary research is in a separate field. Outside readers will be selected by the graduate director at the outset of each academic year. The other two committee members will be chosen by the student in consultation with the graduate director and their major adviser; the major adviser may serve as one of the committee members.
· Students must defend their dissertation proposals no later than 90 days after their major area papers are approved.