The prospectus is a paper in which you identify the nature of your study and the type of research you will pursue. In the MA/MSCJ programs, you have the following options;
Thesis – in the thesis option the student pursues a research topic that will contribute new knowledge or understanding to the general body of knowledge in the field. An on-campus oral defense is required to complete this option.
Advanced Coursework – in this completion option, students complete six hours of additional coursework followed by a written comprehensive examination. The courses can be electives or readings courses that relate to the student's primary focus of study and as approved by the College.
By the time you write your prospectus, you must know which of the above completion options you plan to pursue so that your prospectus will accurately reflect your research plan. If you choose to complete the Advanced Coursework option, you will not be required to complete a prospectus.
Your committee chair will determine the scope of your prospectus and may suggest revisions. However, to start, the College anticipates a work of approximately 10 pages and recommends that the following be included:
The admission to candidacy form will be sent to you by the master's program staff after you have completed 18 hours of coursework. You will complete the form listing all your program courses – whether you have taken the course or not, the form must show 33 hours of coursework. It should not list any "I" grades. Once you have completed the form and e-mailed it back to the master's program staff, they will review the form for accuracy and e-mail it back to you, You will then print the form, sign the second page, and mail it to the college for signatures and submission to the Graduate College.
Be sure to establish the correct format as described in the thesis option information from the Graduate College Web page. Download that section so you will have the requirements in front of you as you proceed. With your committee chair, establish a level of communication between him/her and you; identifying those points in your research at which he/she will want to see your work. If, for example, you are to send in each chapter for review, you send in the first chapter while continuing to work on your paper. Once your chair returns that chapter with comments, you incorporate those comments into that chapter as well as into the current work you are doing. Be aware that in this phase, your chair is seeing your work piecemeal. When the final paper is complete, your chair will see the entire work for the first time and will likely identify certain problems that were not previously apparent. As you schedule your plan of work, allow time for revision at this stage.
The Graduate College requires that this form be on file at least two weeks prior to the date of your defense but should be submitted with your admission to candidacy form. This form will also be sent to you by the master's program staff.
It will require:
This final step in the process is a meeting between you and your committee members where you present your thesis, answer questions and discuss your research and conclusions. All four people are to be present at the defense on the Norman campus and it is your responsibility to schedule the defense at a time convenient for everyone. You then notify the college so that we can reserve a room for the defense in the PACS offices in McCarter Hall if that is the most convenient place.
The College delivers master's level degree programs to students around the world. Students often spend little, or in the case of the online program, no time on the Norman campus. Under these circumstances, the normal Masters final research requirement of a thesis defense is not the most appropriate method for degree completion. Therefore, the college offers an alternative completion requirement based on a broad, program-based comprehensive examination as described below. For this completion option, the student completes six hours of elective coursework from the degree, instead of the six hours of thesis. The expectation is that students will demonstrate full mastery and competency to function in the domain of their studies.
Students will complete the 33-credit hour Master's program including courses in interdisciplinary studies, research preparation and specialization courses based on their individual interest within the Master's degree program as well as seminars or electives.
Degree Specialized Study (i.e. Administrative Leadership, Museum Studies, etc.):
A minimum of 15 credit hours of specialized study according to area of interest is required of every student. This fulfills the Graduate College expectation of a focus of study. The comprehensive examination will be administered only when the student has completed the interdisciplinary studies, research preparation courses, and 75% (27 hours) of all coursework.
The take-home examination will consist of four questions approved by the college for each student. Such an exam would consist of the following:
Students may receive two opportunities to successfully pass the comprehensive exam at the discretion of the exam committee. A failure on any part of the exam results in failure on the entire exam. During the rewrite, a student only need repeat the area of failure, unless one fails more than two areas, which then results in a retake of all four areas. New question(s) are provided for the rewrite. A student who rewrites one or two questions will only have one week in which to respond with an essay.
When all course work has been satisfactorily completed, the comprehensive examination passed, and the Graduate College requirements met, the student will be eligible for graduation.
The comprehensive exam is a major step in completing the Master's degree and students need to have the best information possible. All students who choose the coursework/comprehensive exam option are required to complete a tutorial on the exam in the semester prior to the semester they take their comprehensive exam. The University of Oklahoma, College of Professional and Continuing Studies delivers Master's level degree programs to students around the world. Just like all accredited university graduate programs, the PACS graduate degree programs include completion requirements such as a thesis or non-thesis completion such as research project. We have developed an additional non-thesis degree completion option for our students to provide increased flexibility for our on-line students. This is the coursework/comprehensive exam option. Students who choose this option will take 6 hours of subject area elective coursework and write a comprehensive exam. The coursework/comprehensive exam option does not differ from the other options in terms of degree of difficulty or expectations.
Students who choose the thesis or research project option are required to enroll in six hours of thesis or project credit if allowed by the degree program in which you are enrolled. Students who choose the coursework/comprehensive exam option will enroll in six hours of subject area elective coursework (additional elective courses in your degree program area). These six hours will form the basis for the fourth question on the comprehensive exam (see below). The credit hours for each completion option are the same, and all students are required to complete 33 hours to earn their degree.
The comprehensive exam assesses a student's knowledge of a field of study. For the Master's Degree, that level of knowledge is expected to be advanced. The comprehensive exam is not based on specific course(s), but it is meant to test students' comprehension and familiarity with their discipline and their ability to synthesize concepts and ideas that they have learned over their entire course of graduate study. Many Master's students perform quite well in the individual classes and expect to pass the comprehensive exam easily. Sometimes students presume that if they received good grades, they will need little or no preparation for their comprehensive exam. It is important to remember, however, that the comprehensive exam requires students to go beyond what they have done in individual courses. Earning good grades throughout the coursework phase of the degree does not automatically translate into passing the comprehensive exam on the first try. While a student may have mastered the concepts, theories and ideas in individual courses, the comprehensive exams requires students to demonstrate that they can bring these ideas and concepts together and provide a coherent analysis for each of the exam questions. In some ways, the comprehensive exam can be compared to the bar exam. Law students may complete all of their coursework, but they must still pass the bar exam in order to practice law. Likewise, Master's students may complete all of their coursework, but they must still pass the comprehensive exam in order to earn their degree. Like the bar exam, not all students who take the comprehensive exam the first time pass. For example, in the summer of 2002, an average of 72.5% of all law students who took the bar exam passed. Those failing the exam the first time are required to take the exam again and pass it in order to practice law. This is the same with the comprehensive exam.
The Graduate College has specific requirements that the College of Professional and Continuing Studies must adhere to in administering the comprehensive exam.
How is the exam received?
When Can you Take the Comprehensive Exam?
Retaking the Comprehensive Exam
All written academic work, including comprehensive exams, must be composed entirely of words generated (not simply found) by the student, except where words written by someone else are specifically marked as such with proper citation. When students misrepresent the origin of ideas or writing, this is plagiarism. Plagiarism is grounds for failure of assignment, failure of a course, or even removal from the university.
Plagiarism is any of the following:
If you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, review OU's
Students must be enrolled in at least 2 hours during the semester that they take their comprehensive exam. This policy, established by the Graduate College, also applies to the semester that any re-take of the comprehensive exam is attempted. So if you have taken and failed the comprehensive exam in one semester, you will be required to re-enroll for at least 2 hours in the next or subsequent semester to re-take the comprehensive exam. Students will not be eligible for financial aid during the semester that they retake their exam. Financial aid rules require students to be enrolled for at least five hours and that all of those hours are required to earn their degree.
Each exam is developed for each individual student by the exam committee. There are no standard exams. The Comp Exam is emailed (between 8:30 and 9:30 am on the start date) to each student's OU email account and they have two weeks to answer all areas and return the exam by email and submit it to Canvas under the Assignments drop box in this tutorial (by 5 pm on the exam return date). The exam will be reviewed by the plagiarism program TurnItIn. The start dates for the exams are established each term and students will be given a date range during the term in which they can start the exam. Exams cannot be started on weekends or holidays. If the exam is not returned by the deadline (5 pm on the exam return date), it is considered a failure.
The Committee consists of three members. The committee will be selected from faculty who work for the College of Professional and Continuing Studies. Normally you will have at least one faculty member you have had during the course of your degree program. All three members will grade your papers on a 1-10 scale and the average for each area will be your score for the area. A score of 7 on each area is the minimum passing score.
The comprehensive exam is a two-week, take-home examination consisting of four questions (areas) approved by the College for the student which is emailed to the student. The student will return the exam by email within the time limit to all committee members and the College of Professional and Continuing Studies. The exam consists of the following:
While the exam questions are not based on a particular course, they are generally based on areas of study within your degree program that were covered in courses.
Below are three sample questions. These questions do not necessarily pertain to any specific course but are examples of what the questions will look like on the exam.