stack of law books

The CRMJ Master's Degree requires either:

Thesis: (CRMJ 5999r for six hours credit)


Comprehensive Exam (6 elective hours and pass the Comprehensive Exam)


Thesis Committee

All theses require a chair and two committee members.  The Chair must be a full-time, tenure-track faculty member in the thesis student’s department and should have full graduate faculty status. One other member of the committee must be a full-time faculty member in the thesis student’s department. The remaining members of the committee must either be full-time faculty members in the student’s department or must possess qualifications that are deemed suitable for committee membership by the student’s department and by members of the Graduate Faculty.

At the end of the first semester of thesis hours/class, your Chair will be required to complete a thesis continuation document.  If you have not made satisfactory progress on your thesis, you must change to a comprehensive exam option.

Back to List

Continual Enrollment in Thesis

Students writing a thesis must continue to register for CRMJ 599R each fall and spring semester after the initial registration until the thesis is accepted for binding. The student must be enrolled for at least two semester hours of thesis during the semester the thesis is submitted. Students who are planning on graduating in August must register for thesis hours in the summer term. Students can take up to 6 thesis hours. Although additional hours can be taken, students will receive a grade for only 6 hours. If, through unusual circumstances, the student cannot work continuously on the thesis, the student may request in writing a one-time stop-out (see Graduate Handbook Policy).

Back to List

Grading of Thesis

NP grades for thesis hours will be recorded during semesters when, in the judgment of the thesis advisor, the student fails to demonstrate adequate progress on the thesis. SP grades will be recorded for those semesters during which adequate progress occurs. A final grade for the thesis course will not be recorded until the thesis has been deposited in the library. At that time, up to six of the most recent semester hours of previously SP graded thesis credit will be recorded as A or B on the student’s transcript. NP grades and SP grades for thesis in excess of the thesis hours required will remain on the transcript.

Failure to make successful progress during the first semester of thesis enrollment will result in termination from the thesis option; these students will be required to take the comprehensive exam.  Your thesis Chair must complete a form at the end of the first semester certifying your progress which will allow you to register for the remaining theses hours.

Back to List

Submission of a Thesis

All theses must conform with university guidelines outlined in the UTC Graduate Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines.  A full draft of the thesis must be submitted to the dean on the Graduate School for review no later than one month prior to the first day of scheduled final examinations for the term in which the student expects to graduate. Additional information about the submission process and deadlines is available on the Graduate School web page.

Back to List

Comprehensive Exams

Students who do not write a thesis are required to successfully pass a comprehensive exam.  The comprehensive exams are issued once in the fall and once in the Spring .  To be eligible for the comprehensive exam, the student must:

    • be within one semester of program completion
    • successfully completed or be concurrently enrolled in all core classes (CRMJ 5000, 5010, 5020 and 5030)
    • have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0
    • have their candidacy form approved and accepted
    • submit an application indicating their intent to take the comprehensive exam (the  application must be submitted no less than one month prior to the examination date. 

Back to List

Procedures and Guidelines

The comprehensive exam is administered by the graduate coordinator and is divided into two parts.  For Part I, students will electronically receive a general research/policy question six weeks prior to the official comprehensive exam date.  The students will have six weeks to complete Part I, which should contain the following: an introduction, literature review, theoretical foundation, methodology, limitations of the study, and reference page.

On the official comprehensive exam date, students will receive Part II of the exam.  Students will be presented with research findings pertinent to their research question and will be asked to interpret these findings and discuss the significance of these results.  In addition, the student will write a discussion addressing the policy implications of these results and make recommendations based on their literature review and the findings.  Students will have 6 hours to complete the Part II of the comprehensive exam. 

If a student has registered for the comprehensive exam, they are required to inform the graduate coordinator 2 days prior to receiving the examination question if they have chosen to postpone the process. Failure to do so will result in an automatic failure of the comprehensive exam.

Receiving assistance from other parties and/or submitting work that is not the student’s work product is considered cheating and will result in failure of the comprehensive exam and possible dismissal from the university.

Back to List

Submission of Comprehensive Exam

Upon completion, the student will electronically submit Part I and Part II as ONE complete document.  All work should be in APA format.

To ensure a blind review grading process, the authors’ name SHOULD NOT appear on any other page in the document (including as headers or footers). Once the exam has been submitted, the Graduate Coordinator will electronically send confirmation of exam receipt.

Back to List

Grading of Comprehensive Exam

Grades will be provided to students no later than two weeks after completing the exam.

Students will be graded by two reviewers assigned by the Graduate Coordinator.  Both parts of the exam are graded independently, meaning it is possible to pass one part and fail the second. Based on performance, graders will recommend one of the following for each part of the exam:

  • Pass, no further action.
  • Marginal failure, written/oral exam may be requested.
  • Failure, student must retake the exam.

To receive a pass, both reviewers must evaluate the student’s performance as passing.  Split decisions will be sent to a third reviewer. 

If the student receives a marginal fail (or marginal/pass) as determined by both reviewers, the student will automatically be required to rewrite (Part I) or take an oral examination (Part II), which will be graded as pass/fail.  The purpose of the rewrite/oral exam is to give reviewers the opportunity to follow up on issues in the paper and/or to flush out details in cases where students appear to be on the margins of passing.  It also may be requested if there are any doubts that the student prepared the work themselves to ensure that they can answer relevant questions about their submission.  Any rewrite/oral exam will be conducted within a week after receiving the comprehensive exam results. Failure to successfully complete the rewrite/oral exam with a “pass” will result in failure for the entire comprehensive exam.

Per the Graduate Catalog, a student who fails the comprehensive exam may retake the examination once. If unsuccessful following such a retake, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Back to List