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Entomology: Graduate Programs

Comprehensive Examinations

Administered: Once per degree program

Target Population: Ph.D. candidates

Comprehensive examinations are the most thorough assessment of a students breadth of knowledge in the field of Entomology. There is a written part in which essay topics chosen by the student's committee (generally 3-5 questions) are composed over 2-5 day intervals for each question. The answers are expected to be thorough, synthetic, clear, and scholarly. The graduate committee evaluates the answers and may either pass the student, fail the student, or give a conditional pass with the understanding that certain essays will be rewritten. The oral part of the comprehensive examination involves the student's committee examining the student on any aspect of Entomology, particularly in areas that are allied with the student's area of concentration. Questions that are closely related to the student's research are avoided because the emphasis of the examnation is on the student's breadth of knowledge.

Outcomes Measured

  • Critical thinking, reading and writing, and presentation in biology, including the ability to design experiments, the use of appropriate techniques in performance and analysis of experiments, writing publishable manuscripts, and presentation of results in a seminar and/or poster format.
  • Fundamental knowledge of Entomology, including a broad and thorough understanding of the diversity, ecology and physiology of insects.


It is unusual for one of our students to fail either the written or oral comprehensive examinations. When our students have failed one of these exams they have studied intensively and retaken them and passed. Areas of weakness that are identified in students that are otherwise well prepared often lead to the committee suggesting a particular course that the student should take, or a series of readings to be done under the supervision of the major advisor.

Changes Made on Basis of Findings

This is a very effective system for finding out what our students know. We are not considering changes at this time.

Academic Degree Programs: