Skip to main content

Comprehensive Examination Overview

A major milestone in the Program is the completion of a doctoral dissertation. A student is expected to complete a major original research study within the general domain of school psychology under the direction of a School Psychology faculty advisor. Students must have taken the comprehensive exam and defended their candidacy paper before they begin dissertation work.


Once enrolled for dissertation credit, the candidate must be continually enrolled (except for summers) to receive dissertation credit. The student must enroll in summer semesters if:

  • Working on the dissertation
  • Utilizing faculty time or university facilities
  • Graduating during the summer

Continuous enrollment should be for 3 credit hours each semester you are working on your dissertation. You must also register for 6 credit hours the semester you complete your dissertation.

The names and course numbers associated with dissertation hours for the School Psychology Program are:

EPSY 8399 or 8699: Dissertation

Other Information

If a student intends to graduate within the expected time frame, the dissertation proposal must be defended and the data collected the year before the student leaves for the internship year. It should be noted that having defended the dissertation proposal strengthens internship applications. Students should defend their dissertation proposals by November 1 of the year during which they apply for internship.

Students are permitted to do formal dissertation work after they have been advanced to doctoral candidacy.

  • The dissertation defense is open to faculty of the University, graduate students of the College of Education, and others approved by the research chairperson.
  • The student must pass the comprehensive examination prior to the defense of the dissertation proposal.
  • The committee chairperson notifies the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at least ten working days in advance of the date, time and location of the candidate's final oral defense.
  • The room scheduled for this examination must accommodate at least ten persons.
  • The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies posts announcements of the final defense scheduled for the ensuing week.
  • Prior to the final oral defense, the candidate posts an abstract of the dissertation online for College of Education faculty review.

Students may also get involved in other research activities under the direction of a faculty member, either individually or as part of faculty research teams.