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Comprehensive Exam

Comprehensive Take-Home Exam Overview

The comprehensive take-home exam is an independent, individual assignment where students will apply scholarly principles from at least two subdisciplines within ESS for practical use. The final product should demonstrate the student’s mastery of content in two subdisciplines and inform practitioners or organizations regarding the efficacy of a set of strategies, lessons, or a program. Examples include creating an innovative program related to exercise and sports science (e.g., training or fitness program, rehabilitation program), creating a series of teaching lessons for a specific group of students, conducting a program evaluation, creating a website to inform practitioners on a topic related to exercise and sports science, or writing a paper that incorporates practical recommendations based on literature in the field.

Students who choose this option will complete the exam during their final semester of graduate school. Students must complete the Comprehensive Exam Application and submit the form to the Graduate Coordinator by Week 2 of the semester.


Forms for the comprehensive take-home exam must be turned in to the Graduate Coordinator by the 2nd week of the semester the student is planning to graduate. In the form, each student will state their top 4 discipline interest areas (or ESS courses). The graduate coordinator will assign each student to two faculty members based on their interest areas.

The student and two faculty members will meet by the 4th week of the semester to discuss interest areas. The following week, the faculty supervisor will e-mail instructions to the student outlining the exam requirements. At this point, the student will work individually to complete the exam. The student should not solicit help from other students or faculty regarding the exam.

The student will have 4 weeks to complete the exam; the due date will be determined by the faculty supervisor. The faculty may request that the student turn in a draft of the exam at halfway mark to ensure timely progress and to incorporate feedback. The student will turn in their exam to both faculty members on the due date. One to two weeks later, the faculty members will provide feedback with any areas needing improvement (e.g. literature support, clarity, expansion of application). The student should address this feedback during the oral defense . The oral defense could consist of a question and answer session or a concise presentation followed by questions. If the final product and/or oral defense does not meet requirements, graduation may be delayed until the appropriate work is completed.


The exam will include topics from at least two of the student’s courses from their degree plan. Two graduate faculty members familiar with those topics will supervise and grade the exam. One faculty member will be the exam supervisor and will take the lead on meetings, content, and procedures. The exam format may consist of one or more of the following, chosen by the faculty supervisor: a written paper; a written program, lesson, or manual; a website; a YouTube video/webinar; or a similar format. Students must incorporate and cite scholarly references from at least two academic subdisciplines within ESS (e.g., exercise physiology, biomechanics, motor learning, motor development, sport psychology, sport sociology, physical education, strength and conditioning, research methods, or statistics).

This is an individual exam; all work should be the result of the student’s individual thinking and writing. Academic honesty is expected. A signed honor pledge will accompany the student’s exam.

Flow Chart with Tasks and Dates - Spring 2022

Students - official due dates will be assigned by your faculty supervisor