Comprehensive Exam

The MPA Student Handbook Academic Year 2017-18

As the final exit requirement, students will complete a written comprehensive exam.  

The next administration of the MPA comprehensive exam is on Saturday, January 27, 2018 in CH 270 from 8:00 to 5:30. If you intend to take the exam, please email Dr. Brian Collins to register for it. The exam prep session is Saturday, January 13 from 10:00-11:30am in Chilton 220. No registration is required to attend this meeting.

The examination is comprehensive, covering seven of the core courses (not including PADM 5035 Professional Practice for Public Managers) as well as general theories, concepts, and techniques of public management. Preparation for the examination should begin with the first course the student takes. Notes taken in class and on textual material will be invaluable in preparing for the examination. Students should review the texts and articles assigned for each class as they prepare for the examination. Total reliance on notes taken several semesters ago is not recommended. Additionally, students should develop their own bibliography for the different areas of the examination. While many of the entries may be the same as those originally assigned for a particular class, useful new sources may be discovered. The inclusion of material not covered originally in class is necessary in order for the student to remain current in terms of public management knowledge and practice. Moreover, essay answers will be strengthened by bibliographic references.

General Format of Comprehensive Exam

One pair of questions on public administration and society.

The afternoon portion of the exam requires choosing one question from each of the following sets:
One pair of questions on human resources management;

In all areas of the exam, students are expected to display an understanding of ethics appropriate to public service. The general guidelines for the examination and its associated procedures are provided here:

The examination will be administered over an eight-hour period on a Saturday. Unless notified differently, students should plan on the exam being given on the last Saturday in September and January, as well as a Saturday in June near the start of the summer term. The examinations will be scheduled and graded to allow those students who have completed all other requirements to graduate the same semester the examination is successfully completed.

Students must inform the departmental secretary of their intention to take the examination by September 1 for the fall examination, January 5 for the spring examination, and April 26 for the summer exam.

Students who fail may retake the examination during a subsequent, regularly scheduled examination period. Examinations will only be given at the three scheduled times. Failure to pass the exam on the second attempt will result in dismissal from the program.

  • Examinations will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. on examination days. No one will be admitted to the examination after it begins. Students will be offered a 45 minute break at 12:00 noon.
  • Requests for exceptions to any policy must be made in writing to the MPA program coordinator at least two weeks prior to the examination date.