This is a three-hour written examination offered in both semesters, usually around the twelfth or thirteenth week. A passing score is required (usually between 60 and 70. Higher scores are required for the Ph.D.). The Graduate 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.
As of Fall 2016, the reading list is as follows:
(1) (CS 741) Horowitz, Sahni, & Rajasekeran. Computer Algorithms, 2nd Edition,Silicon Pr, 2007.
(2) (CS713) Leach. Introduction to Software Engineering, 2nd Edition, Chapman and Hall/CRC, 2016.
(3) (CS 724) Russell & Norvig. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, 3rd Edition, Pearson, 2009.
(4) (CS 765) Elmasri & Navathe. Fundamentals of Database Systems, 7th Edition, Pearson, 2015. (For 2016 comprehensive exams, the CS 765 section will only cover material found in both the new Elmasri textbook or the older Ramakrishnan and Gehrke textbook.) Ramakrishnan and Gehrke. Database Management Systems, 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2002.