This is a three-hour written examination offered in both semesters, usually around the twelfth or thirteenth week. A passing score of 60% for M.S. students and 80% for Ph.D. students is required. The Comprehensive Exam Coordinator should be consulted if you have any questions or concerns about this examination.
Every M.S. student must pass the comprehensive examination within the student's first two years in the program or by the first time it is offered after 24 semester hours are completed, whichever comes later. Students admitted with conditions will have three years to complete the comprehensive examination, since the conditions must be completed before they take the exam. A student must pass the qualifying examination to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D.
The reading list for the exam consists of the current texts for the four core courses. Mastery of the contents of these books will allow the student to answer all questions satisfactorily.
The test is made up of four parts, of approximately equal length, corresponding to the four courses. Normally questions covering the topics in a specific book are prepared and graded by one or more faculty members who have taught that course recently; this does not mean, however, that questions are restricted to topics covered in that offering of the course. In situations where two instructors have taught a course from different texts and it is not possible to select questions from a common body of material, it is sometimes necessary to include alternate versions of one part, or possibly to allow a student to choose from a set of questions.
A student will be allowed to take the comprehensive exam at most twice.
For CS students, the core courses include CSCI 713, CSCI 724, CS741, and CSCI 765.
For SE students, the core courses include CSCI 713, CSCI 716, CS 848, and CSCI 715 or 718.