Comprehensive Exams

Students applying for the Fall 2021 Comprehensive Exam/Portfolio will receive confirmation of their application and additional information after the October 1st application deadline. Click here to complete the comprehensive exam application form.

Many GSEHD programs require students to successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

After completing all required coursework, all doctoral candidates must successfully complete the doctoral comprehensive exam. The examination must be passed within five years from the start of the doctoral program. For more information on the comprehensive examination, refer to the Doctoral Handbook.

Successful completion of the comprehensive exam is also required for some education specialist programs, as well as for the following master's programs:

Comprehensive exams are offered once per semester, usually in December, April and July for on-campus programs. Off-campus students should contact their programs for specific exam dates. All students must apply to take the comprehensive examination by the following deadlines:

Semester of Exam Application Deadline
Fall Sitting October 1st
Spring Sitting February 1st
Summer Sitting June 1st


To determine the exact date for any given sitting please contact Marc Wollenschlaeger at or by telephone at 202-994-9701. You may also refer to the Critical Dates.

If a student experiences a compelling reason preventing him/her from sitting for the comprehensive examination on the regularly scheduled date, s/he may request a special sitting by completing a Special Sitting Request Form. This form must first be approved by the Faculty Advisor and then submitted to the Office of Student Services at least 10 business days prior to the date of the requested examination.

In order to be cleared to sit for the comprehensive examination, students must be in good standing and have completed all of their coursework or be in their last semester of coursework (with the exception of 8998 and a level B Research Methods course for doctoral students) and have no Incompletes ("I's") or In Progress Grades ("IPG's") on their record.