All doctoral students must take a comprehensive examination administered by an advisory committee no later than the first three weeks of the fourth fall semester after being admitted to the PhD program. Please see the graduate student handbook for the suggested timeline.

Illustration of a pie chart. The comprehensive examination should be taken in a specialty area chosen by the student. This area must be a combination of health and one substantive area reflecting the specialties of the faculty — for example:
  • aging and health
  • health behaviors
  • community health
  • health and demography
  • health and family
  • health inequality
  • health policy, etc.

The advisory committee will consist of three faculty members selected by the Graduate Committee. Prior to taking the examination, the student should meet with the advisory committee to develop a reading list based on the specialty area.

The comprehensive examination will include five questions decided by the advisory committee reflecting major theoretical, methodological, and substantive issues in the student’s chosen specialty area. The student will answer four of the five questions as a take-home exam, which will be distributed at 4:00 p.m. Friday and due the following Monday at 9:00 a.m. The members of the advisory committee will grade the examination on a pass/fail basis.

Students who fail the examination but wish to continue in the program must take a make-up examination. Students who fail the make-up examination will be terminated from the PhD program.

Graduate students may not discuss their exam with anyone during examination time. They may discuss any clarification questions with the chair of the comprehensive advisory committee if needed.Save