You are here

Master of Science Comprehensive Exam

[Word 97-2003]

[Word 2007]

This letter MUST be on file with the department by 9/1 for students taking the fall exam and by 2/1 for students taking the spring exam.

Reading List: 

[Word 97-2003]

Exam Dates

Fall, 2017

October 6, 5:00 pm (est) –October 9, 5:00 pm (est)

Retake: November 10, 5:00 pm (est) –November 13, 5:00 pm (est)


Spring, 2018

March 2, 5:00 pm (est) – March 5, 5:00 pm (est)

Retake: April 6, 5:00 pm (est) – April 9, 5:00 pm (est)


          The Comprehensive Critique/Examination is one option that the student can choose to satisfy the culminating experience requirement.  This option is designed to review and test the students’ knowledge on the program's curriculum.   Signing up for the comprehensive exam serves as a commitment to complete this portion of the Graduate degree program. Therefore,  once students sit for any portion of the exam, they will not be permitted to switch from the comprehensive exam to either the proposal or thesis option.

Test Development

            The test will be developed by the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Graduate Committee and will be based on questions and reading lists submitted by the graduate faculty each semester.  The Graduate Committee will then assemble a master reading list.  Questions will be created in the three core areas:  Criminological Theory; Research Methods; and Law. Questions will also be developed in Corrections and Law Enforcement.  Students must answer questions in the three core areas and then choose either corrections or law enforcement depending upon which courses the student has taken.

Critique/Review Questions

            Elements of a complete answer will be provided on the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice web page.  These elements of a complete answer are designed to help guide students in their preparation for the comprehensive exam. 

Test Eligibility

            Students will be eligible to sit for the exam upon the completion of 24 semester hours.  In addition, the student must have either completed or be currently enrolled in the exam content areas: Criminological Theory, Research Methods, Law, and the content area of either Corrections or Law Enforcement.  Students planning on taking the comprehensive exam must submit a Letter of Intent to Complete the Comprehensive Examination form found on the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice web site to the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.  The Letter of Intent is binding.  Students not meeting these requirements but who sit for the exam will automatically result in a fail on all questions and the students must then retake all of their coursework before sitting for the exam again.  To be eligible to complete the exam, students must submit the Letter of Intent to the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice by September 1 for the Fall exam, or February 1 for the Spring exam via e-mail, mail, or in person.

Test Administration

              The Comprehensive Critique/Exam will be available via Blackboard for a 72 hour time period as designated by the department.    The examination will consist of two to three potential questions in four core areas: Criminological Theory; Research Methods; Law; and either Law Enforcement or Corrections.  You can access these questions numerous times throughout this 72-hour time period. However, the time limit for submitting your response is rigid.  No late responses will be accepted after designated time period.  THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!  For example, if your response is submitted at 5:01 pm est. on the designated date it will constitute a fail.  If you are unsure whether your response has been uploaded, you can contact the professor in charge of administering the exam.  All copies of the comprehensive examination answers will remain on file with the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 

Test Grading

            Students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge of substantive content, analytical abilities, and writing expertise.   All responses should be typewritten in MSWord, WordPerfect or Plain text format, using a 12-point font, one-inch margins, double-spaced, and numbered. To ensure blind grading, students will record their identity on the exam using their 991 number so the grader does not know the name of the student.  A member of the Graduate Committee will be responsible for ensuring that the students’ exam will be given to the appropriate faculty member for grading without knowledge of the students’ name. The Comprehensive exam will be graded by the students’ original full-time tenure track instructor of record, or an appropriate full-time tenure track faculty member as determined by the Graduate Committee.  If a student receives a failing grade, two members of the Graduate Committee will read the exam to substantiate or refute the grade given by the original instructor.  The grade given will be that received by simple majority.  Each section will be graded separately, receiving a grade of fail, pass, or high pass.  To successfully pass the comprehensive exam, students must receive a passing grade on all four sections. 

            If a student fails any section, a second attempt will be permitted within a specified time period chosen by the Graduate Committee (usually within a month of the original results).  If a student signs up for the test and is unable to complete the exam for any reason, it will be counted as a fail.  The student may sign up for the second date.    If a section is failed on the second attempt, a student must appeal to the Graduate Committee for permission to retake the class, and then retake the failed exam section.   A student who takes the class(es) of the failed section(s), may retake the test after completion of the class.  Failure of the test after repeating the class will result in removal from the program.  The time limit for completing the comprehensive exam is 12 months, unless there is a scheduling problem on the part of the graduate program.   Again, signing up for the comprehensive exam serves as a commitment to complete this portion of the Graduate degree program. Therefore, once students sit for any portion of the exam, they will not be permitted to switch from the comprehensive exam to either the proposal or thesis option.

        The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice advises all students to familiarize themselves with the Indiana State University Student Code of Conduct Academic Integrity policy.  Students will be held accountable to the same standards listed within the Code found at

Criminology & Criminal Justice
Holmstedt Hall 210
620 Chestnut St
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, IN 47809
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM ET