About the Comprehensive Exam

The University of West Alabama’s online master’s degree and education specialist programs include a Comprehensive Exam after you complete foundational requirements. The exam verifies you understand the coursework and possess the knowledge and skills your field of study demands.

To take your exam after meeting the requirements, you can:

  • Complete the Comprehensive Exam registration form
  • Pay the nonrefundable $50 registration fee

The Comprehensive Exam is one step in your path to a graduate degree — and it’s in addition to filing an application for your degree. To stay on track to your preferred graduation date, please review all necessary milestones on the Academic Calendar.

Eligibility Requirements for the Comprehensive Exam

Your first step is to meet with your advisor to see if you’ve satisfied the requirements for taking your Comprehensive Exam. You can also find your program below to learn the credit hour and GPA requirements for registering for the exam.

Program NameTotal Credit Hours CompletedCredit Hours in Your Field or Content AreaOverall GPA and Teaching Field
MEd Biology, 6-1224123.0
MEd Early Childhood Education, P-324123.0
MEd Early Childhood Education Development24123.0
MEd English Language Arts, 6-1224123.0
MEd Elementary Education, K-624123.0
MEd History, 6-12*24123.0
MEd General Science, 6-1224123.0
MEd Mathematics, 6-1224123.0
MEd Physical Education, P-1224123.0
MEd Social Science, 6-12*24123.0
MEd Special Education: Collaborative Teacher, 6-1224123.0
MEd Student Affairs in Higher Education24123.0
MS Conservation Biology (Non-Thesis Option)24123.0
MS Family Counseling24123.0
MS Adult Continuing Education: Counseling and Psychology24123.0
MS Adult Continuing Education (General Studies)24123.0
MAT Biology, 6-1224153.0
MAT English Language Arts, 6-1224153.0
MAT History, 6-12*24153.0
MAT Mathematics, 6-1224153.0
MAT Social Science, 6-12*24153.0
MAT General Science, 6-1224153.0
MS Conservation Biology24153.0
MS Physical Education24153.0
MS Sport Management24123.0
MAT — Non-Certification Programs24213.0
EdS Counseling24N/A3.25
EdS Early Childhood Education, P-324N/A3.25
EdS Elementary Education, K-624N/A3.25
EdS Library Media (Certification and Non-Certification)24N/A3.25
EdS School Counseling24N/A3.25
EdS Special Education: Collaborative Teacher, K-6 or 6-1224N/A3.25
MS Clinical Mental Health Counseling48N/AN/A

*The following programs have specific requirements for the credit hours completed:

  • MEd History, 6-12 — this requirement includes:
    • Six credit hours in U.S. History (pre- and post-Civil War)
    • Six credit hours outside of U.S. History
  • MEd Social Science, 6-12 — this requirement includes:
    • Nine credit hours of History courses (three must be outside of U.S. History)
    • Six credit hours of graduate Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology or Sociology courses
  • MAT History, 6-12 — this requirement includes:
    • Nine credit hours in U.S. History (pre-and post-Civil War)
    • Nine credit hours outside of U.S. History
  • MAT Social Science, 6-12 — this requirement includes:
    • 15 credit hours of History courses (three must be outside of U.S. History)
    • Six credit hours of graduate Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology or Sociology courses

Programs with Alternative Exam Formats

Praxis II

Students enrolled in the following programs take the Praxis II instead of the Comprehensive Exam. A minimum 3.25 GPA is required. For more details, please review the Graduate Catalog. You can learn more about the Praxis II exam on the ETS website and by calling 1-800-772-9476.

  • Alternative Class A Programs
  • MEd Instructional Leadership (Reduced Credit-Hour Option)
  • MEd Library Media
  • MEd School Counseling
  • MS Guidance and Counseling
  • MS Adult Continuing Education: Library Media


For students pursuing the following degrees, a 3.25 GPA is required, and a portfolio replaces the Comprehensive Exam:

  • MEd Learning, Design & Technology: Students must achieve a passing score on the comprehensive e-portfolio project, documenting mastery of the program’s curriculum.
  • MBA (All Emphases): Students must complete the Major Field Test during their final semester. Contact Dr. Willy Hill, Program Director, with questions about the MFT requirement.
  • EdS Teacher Leader and EdS Instructional Leadership: Students must achieve a passing score on the LiveText Comprehensive Portfolio Assessment, demonstrating an understanding of program standards and a mastery of the curriculum.

The Comprehensive Exam Experience

True to its name, this exam affirms you’ve gained comprehensive knowledge of course subjects. You must answer each question thoroughly, providing relevant examples and supporting details. Your essay responses should also exhibit graduate-level writing that conveys a deep understanding of the content, logical thinking and sound reasoning.

UWA provides four hours for students to complete the exam. You’ll dedicate the bulk of that time to giving thoughtful, detailed responses, with the final minutes spent fleshing out your answers and correcting any issues with spelling, grammar or the writing mechanics. To pass, you must answer each question indicated in the instructions (leaving an answer blank could prevent you from passing the exam).

Prepare for Your Comprehensive Exam

The following materials can help you get ready for your Comprehensive Exam. You’ll need to sign in to Blackboard to access these documents.

Example Scoring Rubrics

These rubrics provide basic parameters for how UWA scores the Comprehensive Exam. When you take your exam, be sure to read the instructions carefully, as they vary by program.

  • Rubric Example 2: Used for Health Sciences and Human Performance programs, such as Physical Education, Sport Management, Exercise Science and Athletic Training

Comprehensive Exam Information by Program

Preview the following guides and supporting documents as you prepare for the exam. Because these files pertain to specific programs, it’s wise to talk with your advisor about the best way to study for your exam.

Written Exam Preparation

Review the following checklist and handbook to prepare for the written portion of the Comprehensive Exam.

Additional Comprehensive Exam Details

Review the following information if you need to:

Retake the Comprehensive Examination

Students who do not pass their Comprehensive Exam can attempt it a second time. However, they must register again to take the exam at a later date.

If students do not pass the Comprehensive Examination on the second attempt, they must wait at least one on-campus semester or two online terms before taking the exam a third time. Additionally, they must complete three credit hours of coursework as specified by their academic program advisor in addition to the credit hours normally required for the master’s degree program. The additional coursework may be a repetition of courses the students already completed.

If a student does not pass the Comprehensive Examination on their third attempt or at a later time while enrolled in the degree program, they will be dismissed from the School of Graduate Studies and may not apply for readmission until one on-campus semester or two online terms. Note that students must complete all courses within nine years of their graduation.

Instances of academic dishonesty may be referred to the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) and are subject to the actions thereof. Students who do not pass the Comprehensive Exam due to academic dishonesty will be dismissed from the School of Graduate Studies for one on-campus semester or two online terms. If a student is dismissed for academic dishonesty on the Comprehensive Exam, the student should adhere to the following procedures for academic appeal.

Submit an Academic Appeal

Students who are dismissed from programs may appeal to the Graduate Appeals Committee for readmission after one on-campus semester or two online terms. Students can begin this process by submitting a written request to the Graduate Dean, who will present the request at a scheduled Committee meeting. When making an appeal, students must provide adequate evidence of their ability, maturity, motivation and accountability. The decision of the Committee is final and not subject to negotiation or further appeal. Any subsequent incidents of academic dishonesty will result in indefinite expulsion from the School of Graduate Studies.

Ready to Take Your Comprehensive Exam?

With the proper preparation, you can excel when taking your Comprehensive Exam. If you meet the above requirements, you can register now for the exam and pay the nonrefundable $50 fee:

Do You Have Questions?

Make an appointment with your advisor to discuss whether you’re ready to take the Comprehensive Exam.

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