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Comprehensive Exams

This page describes the procedures for students to obtain candidacy and complete the program. The purposes are to provide REMS master’s and doctoral students the opportunities to demonstrate knowledge of content across the expanded course offerings in the REMS program and demonstrate analytic skills using software.


Because content in each area may vary slightly across semesters and instructors, the student is strongly encouraged to meet with the instructor under whom related courses were taken to discuss topics, format, expectations and preparation techniques months prior to the exam dates.


A student who wishes to take comprehensive exams must notify their advisor of their intent to sit for comprehensive exams and acquire consent from his/her advisor before the 8th week of the previous fall or spring semester.


  • Students are encouraged to take the comprehensive exams as soon as possible following completion of required REMS coursework and consent of advisor.
  • Written comprehensive exams for REMS graduate students will be offered the week prior to the start of the fall and spring semesters.
  • The written exams will be administered across a two-day span (Monday and Wednesday), each having a three-hour morning session and a three-hour afternoon session. Written exams will be administered at the OSU Testing Center (Stillwater or Tulsa).
  • The required oral exam must be scheduled within four weeks of completing the written section of the exam.
  • After the student successfully completes all components of the written and oral comprehensive exams, he/she is allowed to proceed to the thesis, creative component, or dissertation proposal.
  • After successful completion of the thesis/dissertation proposal, the student will be admitted to candidacy.
    • The student must hold candidacy for at least six months before defending the thesis/dissertation and must maintain continuous enrollment in every fall and spring semester until graduation. Please be cognizant of the OSU Graduate College timeline.


Written Exam



The written exams will cover four areas: General Linear Model (GLM), Measurement, Evaluation and an Applied/Advanced section (see table below).


Topic Master's Doctoral

General Linear










Factor Analysis: Principal Components, EFA, CFA

Psychometric Theory: CTT, Reliability, Validity, Generalizability Theory


Program Theory

Research vs Evaluation

Program Theory

Logic Model

Research vs Evaluation

Compare/Contrast Approaches


Research Design

Data Analysis Using Statistical Software*

(R, SPSS, MPlus, etc.)

Analysis Interpretation and Write-Up

Evaluation Scenario


*The student must notify the advisor of the software which he/she plans to use so that it can be installed on the computer prior to testing.

Note: For content that overlaps the two degrees, the PhD content will be more rigorous/advanced.



  • Exams will be written each semester by the REMS faculty.
  • The exams are closed-book and closed-notes.
  • All responses must be typed on a computer. Internet access will be off.
  • There is no minimum or maximum length of each exam response. Responses should contain sufficient details to demonstrate that each question is thoroughly addressed and that the student’s breadth and depth of knowledge are evident.
  • The number of items per exam may vary. Students taking exams during the same semester may receive a set of common items, but they may also receive individualized items specific to the student’s research interests.



  • Completed exams will be reviewed and evaluated by REMS faculty members. Students’ responses and results of written exams will not be reported directly to the student prior to oral exams. It is strongly recommended that the student be cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses from written responses in preparation for the oral exams.
  • Though the primary focus of the evaluation is content-related, the student should also demonstrate acceptable writing style, which reflects good grammar, style and organization.
  • If the student fails any section, he/she must to retake another form of the failed section(s) the following semester. If the student again fails, he/she will not be allowed to continue in the REMS program.


Oral Exam



  • The purpose of the oral exam is to give the student the opportunity to clarify anything from the written exams, demonstrate additional knowledge and provide evidence of skills to clearly communicate using statistics-related terminology.
  • Topics will include the same four areas as the written exams. During the oral exam, the student will be asked questions related to his/her responses to the written exam, as well as additional questions related to the four areas.



  • The student will participate in an oral exam, regardless of the results of the written exam.
  • Those in attendance of the oral exam will be the student and all REMS faculty members.



  • Immediately following the oral examination, the student will be asked to exit the room while the faculty/committee discuss the student’s overall performance on the written and oral exams. The student will be given the results of his/her exam consisting of either pass or fail.


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