New Mexico State University

Comprehensive Examination

These rules intentionally allow individual doctoral committees a lot of latitude on various points. The intention is that sufficient uniformity and fairness will result from the fact that any two committees will typically have a couple of faculty members in common.

1. For each candidate, the Examination will be administered and evaluated entirely by his/her doctoral committee.

2. The Examination will look for breadth (` omprehensiveness'') within the candidate's ``Area of Research''. There is no a priori definition of how broad an Area of Research should be for the purposes of these rules. The area will not typically be as broad as a Computer Science subfield such as programming languages, artificial intelligence, operating systems, and so on. However, it will be considerably broader than the precise topic of the candidate's intended research, if he/she has chosen one. An Area of Research could also intersect several Computer Science subfields such as programming languages, or artificial intelligence. It could also intersect disciplines such as Psychology, Philosophy, Mathematics or Electical Engineering. (This is not an exhaustive list.)

3. In cases where the candidate has already embarked on a program of research that is intended to contribute ultimately to the dissertation, the Examination will not be an evaluation of this program. It is the function of the later Prospectus process to provide such an evaluation.

4. The possible outcomes of the Examination are Pass and Fail. A candidate may retake the Comprehensive examination if allowed to do so by the student's Graduate Committee. There is no sense in which the candidate may retake only part of the examination.

5. The Examination will have a written part and an oral part. The oral part will follow the grading of the written part and the presentation of the results of that grading to the candidate.

Note: If the candidate's doctoral committee decides that the candidate's performance on the written part is so poor that he/she will not be able to pass the Examination no matter how well he/she might do on an oral part, then the committee may decree that there will be no oral part.

Guideline: The two parts will normally be no more than a month apart.

Guideline: The oral part will normally occur no sooner than two weeks after the provision of the written-part grading results.

6. Both the written and the oral part will be based on readings in the candidate's Area of Research. The readings will be chosen by the candidate's doctoral committee. The amount of reading material will be substantial. The readings must be accurately listed on a written document given to the candidate. This document must also specify the candidate's Area of Research.

Guideline: The reading material will typically include a dozen or two lengthy articles and several books.

7. The written part will consist of writing a critical survey of some/all of the readings and/or providing written answers to test questions about some/all of the readings. The candidate will accomplish the written part at or by some time chosen by the doctoral committee.

Guideline: Normally, the period allowed for reading all the assigned material will be at least two months.

Guideline: Normally, a further month or two months will be allowed for writing a critical survey.

8. During the period allowed for the writing of the critical survey, the candidate may seek guidance from his/her doctoral committee, but must be the sole author of the survey.

9. The oral part may include a presentation by the candidate and/or questions about the readings. If the oral part is to involve a presentation, the candidate must be informed of this in writing when the readings are assigned. At that time, the candidate must also be informed in writing of the required length, type of content, and evaluation criteria for the presentation.

10. A copy of any written notice to the candidate as required by (6) and (9) must be deposited in the candidate's file in the CS office. It would be helpful if candidates could remind their advisors to make sure this happens.