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Graduate School Comprehensive Exams


Detailed information about registering and taking Graduate School Comprehensive Exams


Comprehensive examinations are required in some graduate degree programs. They are intended to assess and evaluate a student’s knowledge of the major components of his/her graduate study. After a review of the student’s academic records, the student is notified if he or she is eligible to sit for the examination. The student must then file an application form with the School of Graduate Studies for the specific examination date desired and receive approval as set forth by each individual graduate program. Comprehensive examinations are administered in November, March and July of each year.

Students should register for the comprehensive exam if:

  • They have successfully completed 24 or more graduate credit hours
  • They will graduate in the following semester or later
  • They have consulted with your program coordinator and been advised to take the exam


1. Complete the Comprehensive Examination Application

2. Mail the form to the following address: 
School of Graduate Studies
Salem State University
352 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA 01970 
or email to

3. Wait for your exact exam time and location to be mailed to you. This happens once your eligibility is confirmed, about two weeks before the exam. 

4. Report for the exam. If you do not appear as scheduled, you must reapply to take the exam during the next scheduled exam time. If you anticipate an absence, please email your circumstances to Dr. Kathleen Neville at Requests to reschedule will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Students in need of an accommodation for the comprehensive exam must be registered with the disability services office.

A candidate who fails the comprehensive examination may petition the program coordinator in writing, within three months, to request a second examination. The student must demonstrate persuasively in this petition how he or she will prepare for a successful re-take of the examination. If the petition is granted, the second attempt at the comprehensive examination must occur within the next two administrations of the examination. If the petition is not granted, the student may then appeal this decision to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies or designee. If that appeal is not approved, the student will be dismissed from the program. Failure in the second administration of the examination results in the dismissal from the program. 

Questions? Contact Us

Questions about exam content, instructions, and expectations should be directed to your program coordinator.