Comprehensive Exam

Following successful completion of the required course work, PhD students must successfully complete a comprehensive examination as per UHM Graduate Division Degree Requirements. PhD students in SLS have two options for completing the comprehensive examination requirement, outlined in more detail below: the Exam route (Option 1) or the Qualifying Paper route (Option 2). Students must choose between these options by the beginning of their 5th semester in the program, at the very latest; it is recommended that students decide on their choice by the beginning of their second year in the PhD program. Submission of a Constitution of QP committee form indicates selection of Option 2. If no such form is submitted by the add-course deadline (see academic calendar for specific dates each semester) in the student's 5th semester in the program, this indicates selection of Option 1. Once an option has been chosen, changing to the other option is not permitted. Students are advised to discuss the two options with their advisor during their first year in the program and decide on their choice well before their 5th semester in the program.

Timelines for completion of dissertation requirements, including final deadlines for completion of the comprehensive exam requirement, are provided for each option below.

Option 1 (Exam route)

In consultation with the advisor and the proposed doctoral committee, the student selects three of the following: second language analysis, learning, use, education, and research methods. Approximately one semester prior to the tentative date of the examination, the student must submit to the committee chair an indication of the areas to be covered and specify the topic within each of the three areas, including a list of references. The committee must approve any description and may require modifications.

The examination consists of written and oral components:

  1. Written: For the written portion of the comprehensive exam, the candidate is given two weeks to answer three questions based on the specified topics approved by the committee. The two-week duration is strictly enforced. Answers for each question will usually be from 15 to 30 pages in length. The committee then takes two weeks to evaluate the candidate’s answers.
  2. Oral: The committee convenes with the candidate for the oral portion of the examination. Here, the examinee clarifies and amplifies topics addressed in the written portion.

A student who does not pass the comprehensive examination may take it only once more (see UHM Graduate Division Degree Requirements).

Timelines for completion of dissertation with Option 1 are provided here.

Option 2 (Qualifying Paper route)

Instead of an oral and written exam, students may complete two Qualifying Papers (QPs), following the procedures, rules, and timelines specified here.