Comprehensive Examination Guidelines

Movement and Cognitive Rehabilitation Science

Department of Kinesiology and Health Education

A comprehensive examination in the student’s area of specialization is given typically following completion of all course work (typically two years of post-Master’s study at The University). Faculty on the examining committee are to include at least three members chosen by the student’s advisor (the committee chair) who have Ph.D.s and are involved in research with at least two being from MCRS. Additional committee members who may be added, as deemed relevant for their content expertise, need not be either MCRS or GSC members.

The Comprehensive Exam includes the Specific Aims and Research Strategy of an NIH R21 grant, followed by an oral defense. The students will have four weeks to complete the written component of the exam. The topic can be related to work that is currently being conducted in the student’s home lab but must involve a novel component (e.g.,  one Specific Aim which is different from other aims that the student’s home lab has researched or proposed research on, or some novel analysis of existing data performed by the student).

The options for introducing novelty will be flexible to accommodate the variety of research and mentoring styles within MCRS. The committee will judge the proposal following guidelines similar to those followed by grant or article reviewers. That is, the proposed work may extend existing findings or ongoing work to some extent but must propose to advance the field in some way. The topic must be entirely conceived by the student.

Students cannot consult other students or faculty about any aspect of their proposal during the examination period.

The Comprehensive Examination will include two parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Possible Examination Outcomes

Advance to Doctoral Candidacy

Advance to Doctoral Candidacy with Conditions

Continue in the Doctoral Program without Advancement

Drop from the Program

Comprehensive Examination Evaluation Criteria

These criteria were adapted from NIH Standard Review Criteria, but note that the emphasis for grading will be on the Approach section.

Significance (20% of total grade)

  • Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
  • If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved?
  • How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?

Innovation (20% of total grade)

  • Does the application advance current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions?

Approach (60% of total grade)

  • Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?
  • Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented?
  • If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility, and will particularly risky aspects be managed?