The M.A. Comprehensive Exam is the Program's capstone. The exams are designed to allow students to explore specific theological issues in more depth than may have been possible during course work, often also asking the student to apply what they have learned to various contexts. The M.A. exams are based on five topics chosen by the student, in light of hers or his unique theological interests. The topics and their bibliographies are chosen from the standard set of exam topics developed by the summer M.A. faculty in conjunction with the summer curriculum. If you chose to concentrate your studies in one theological area, no more than three topics should be in your area of concentration. If you are a General Studies student, no more than two topics should be in a single theological area of study.
The only exception to this process of developing an exam is the student concentrating in Liturgical Studies. In this instance, the student will choose their exam topics from the Liturgical Studies Bibliography rather than the standard set of topics based on our general M.A. curriculum. For more information please refer to this topics_for_ma_exam_draft_questions.pdf or please e-mail Prof. Michael Driscoll.
Written and Oral Exams
The comprehensive exams themselves are made up of written and oral exams. The student will be asked to answer three of the five questions during the four-hour written exams, given on the Monday of exam week. These written answers will then be distributed to the board, ad will form the basis of the forty-minute oral exam on Wednesday or Thursday of the same week. During the oral exams, questions not answered by the student on the written exams may be addressed, as may be addressed, as may books on the bibliography and courses taken by the student. Evaluation of the student's performance will be made on the basis of both the writte and oral exams.
Your chosen topics & bibliographies must be approved by the area advisor (and/or the Summer M.A. Director) no later than one month before you hope to take the exams. M.A. exams are given in the last week of July each summer. Students must enrolled and registered for a Comprehensive Review class (Theo 68802) during the summer session in which they plan to take their exam. It is a very good idea for students to sit in on the Comprehensive Review class in their are of concentration the summer before they are scheduled to take their exams, to gain a clearer idea of the exam process.
The exam board, to be chosen by the advisor (and/or the M.A. Director), will be made up of two faculty from the area of concentration, and one faculty from another area. Students pursuing the general M.A. degree may have an exam board chosen from three different areas. The student may confidentially choose the inclusion of one member of the board (subject to availability), and the exclusion of one faculty member. Each member of the exam board will submit three questions, framed in light of the five topics proposed by the student, to the area advisor, who will then formulate five questions. You will receive these 5 questions on the day of your written exam, but you will only be asked to write answers to 3 of them, as above.