Department of Sociology & Anthropology Ohio University
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Graduate Program

Requirements and Admissions

Research and Teaching

Financial Assistance

M.A. Examination Option

M.A. Prospectus/Thesis Option

Student Documents and Forms

Comprehensive Examination Guide

ASA Citation Guide


Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive examination is a significant part of your graduate training, an opportunity for you to acquire both breadth and depth in sociology.  In consultation with your committee, you will select two general areas of sociology related to your specific research interests.  For example, if you were interested in how educational structures and processes contribute to social stratification, you might choose to study social inequality and the sociology of education.  A student interested in women’s experiences in the criminal justice system might choose the sociology of gender and criminal justice process.  For each of the areas that you select, you should demonstrate a command of the literature and be able to discuss the important controversies, issues, and problems, both in theory and methodology, that exist in the field.  To aid you in that task, your committee will assist you in providing reading lists of major works in the field.  While works on the reading lists serve as the basis for the examination, you are encouraged to add to the lists from your coursework. 

Students generally begin preparing for comprehensive examinations during their second quarter of graduate study, assembling a committee with expertise in their areas of concentration.  While your committee is available as a resource, preparation for examinations requires responsible and dedicated independent study.  Comprehensive examinatiosn are to be taken after your substantive coursework is completed.

The format and procedure of your comprehensive examination is decided by your committee.  Examinations are typically given in one sitting or over a three day period.  Comprehensive examinations frequently consist of three questions, where the first two questions respectively address your two areas of specialization, and the third question is an integrative question which asks you to bridge the two areas. 

Your examination will be graded as “pass,” “pass with revisions,” or “failure.”  In the event of a “pass with revisions,” your passing grade will be conditional on the committee receiving requested revisions in a timely manner.


Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Bentley Annex 162 - Athens, Ohio 45701
Phone: 740-593-1350 Fax: 740-593-1365
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OHIO University
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