ENG 890 Summative Evaluation: Comprehensive Exam and Professional Paper (Theology)
All M.A. in Theology students enrolled starting in the Fall 2019 semester and going forward must take ENG 890 Summative Evaluation: Comprehensive Exam and Professional Paper (Theology) as their Summative Evaluation unless granted permission to write a thesis (see below for the thesis process). ENG 890 is a two-semester process. During the first semester, the student prepares for and takes an oral exam on the theology core. The following semester the student writes a 10-page professional paper to peer-reviewed academic journal standards under the guidance of a faculty advisor on a topic in the student’s concentration area.
Students enroll in ENG 890 the semester before their last planned final semester. ENG 890 counts as a required 3-credit course for all concentrations in the M.A. in Theology. For students enrolled before the Fall 2019 semester who opt to take ENG 890, it counts as a 3-credit Theology elective.
ENG 890 Process
During the student’s first semester of the ENG 890 process, the student completes a series of instructor-led exercises to prepare for an oral exam on the theology core and to prepare for writing the professional paper. At the end of the semester, the student completes an oral exam on the theology core. The following semester, the student writes a 10-page professional paper to peer-reviewed academic journal standards under the guidance of a faculty advisor on a topic in the student’s concentration area. Once the faculty advisor approves the paper, a reader also reviews and must approve the paper. The paper is graded pass/fail.
Since ENG 890 is a 3-credit course, the tuition fee is the same as the current 3-credit graduate course tuition fee. For the professional paper portion the following semester, the student must pay the current faculty advisor and reader fee, along with the graduation fee.
B. Current Format Comprehensive Exam
All M.A. in Philosophy students and all M.A. in Pastoral Studies students must take the Current Format Comprehensive Exam unless granted permission to write a thesis (see below). M.A. in Theology students enrolled before the Fall 2019 semester may opt to take the Current Format Comp exam instead of ENG 890.
Students may take the Current Format Comprehensive Exam concurrently with the student’s final semester of coursework or within two semesters of completing all coursework.
The Current Format Comprehensive Exam is a non-credit. There is no instructor-led review. Students must apply knowledge learned throughout their course of studies. Therefore, students should review past course syllabi and notes as a refresher on important points and topics.
The fee for the Current Format Comprehensive exam pays the exam fee and graduation fee.
b. Format of the Exam
The Current Format Comprehensive Exam consists of two parts: a written exam and an oral exam. For the written exam, the student has 3 ½ hours to provide a critical assessment of a text related to the student’s concentration area. The intent of the written exam is for the student to apply knowledge learned through the course of the student’s masters-level program. Theology and Philosophy students can expect a reading expressing a position contrary to Catholic theology and/or Thomistic philosophy requiring a critical response. M.A. in Pastoral Studies students receive a scenario related to their concentration area to address critically. After passing the written exam, the student sits for a 1-hour online oral exam with two faculty members.
c. The Written Exam Process
1) All students taking the Current Format Comprehensive Exam are grouped as a semester cohort in the Comp Exam Resource in Populi. At the start of the semester, the Comp Exam Administrator will post the scheduled exam weekend. The exam weekend will normally be held approximately five weeks before the end of the semester. Unless granted an exception, all students taking the exam during the given semester will take in sometime during the exam weekend. The exam weekend runs from 12:01 am Eastern on Friday through 11:59 pm Eastern on Sunday. The student is free to choose any time during the exam weekend window to take the exam.
2) At the start of the exam weekend, the Comp Exam Administrator provides readings in the Comp Exam Resource for each program and concentration area of students taking the exam.
3) When the student is ready to take the exam, the student will open the appropriate exam reading in the Populi Comp Exam Resource. Opening the reading begins the student’s 3 ½ hour timelimit. The exam is open-book. Students must cite appropriate and relevant scholarly sources in their responses.
4) After the comp exam weekend, the Comp Exam Administrator sends each response to an appropriate faculty member who serves as praeses. The praeses grades the written response. Upon the praeses passing the written response, the Comp Exam Administrator then sends the response to a second faculty member who serves as reader. If the reader passes the exam, the student is notified to select a day and time for the online oral exam with the praeses and reader. The written exam is graded HIGH PASS, PASS, or FAIL.
d. The Oral Exam Process
For online students, the one-hour oral exam uses an online conferencing number, which only requires the student to call a teleconference phone number. The student does not need to use a computer for the oral exam. On-campus students may take the oral exam on-campus if the faculty members are also located on-campus.
The hour is parsed in this way:
1) The praeses of the examining board begins with brief prayer and proceeds to questions based on a list of core program topics along with topics in the student’s area of concentration or emphasis.
2) The praeses and reader may each question the student for up to 30 minutes, after which the student will be invited to leave the conference. The oral exam will discuss the student’s written response, along with general questions from the student’s program core (theology, philosophy, or MAPS) and the student’s concentration area.
3) When the examiners have agreed on the results, the praeses will call the student back (into the room or into the conference call) and announce the results.
4) The oral exam is graded HIGH PASS, PASS, or FAIL.
5) Upon successful completion of the oral exam, the Comp Exam Administrator will notify the student and appropriate administration members to record the student’s completion of the comprehensive exam.
6) If the praeses and reader are dissatisfied with the results of either the written exam or oral exam, they will provide the student with an explanation and feedback for improvement. The student may then re-take that portion of the exam. A third and final chance can be scheduled at the discretion of the appropriate academic dean.
Guidelines for Faculty on Oral Exam Questions
The examiners will draw their oral examination questions from the program core and from the student’s concentration area. During the oral exam, students must demonstrate a working knowledge of all topics in their program core and in their concentration area.
Examiners may also ask questions concerning pastoral application consonant with our mission to cultivate Catholic leaders for evangelization.