Comprehensive Exam Guidelines
Comprehensive Exam Guidelines
The Comprehensive Exam is due within 3 months of the submission of the approved Comprehensive Exam Proposal and annotated reading list. The student must structure the Comprehensive Exam according to the approved outline developed for the Comprehensive Exam Proposal. While the Comprehensive Exam should draw heavily from the annotated reading list, the student can extend the readings beyond what is covered in the list.
The Comprehensive Exam should include the following:
1. The introduction of the final paper followed by a logical ordering of the reviewed literature.
2. The synthesis and critical analyses of both theoretical and research perspectives of the problem, presented in a coherent, concise fashion.
3. Evidence throughout the paper of the relevance and developed arguments for advancing knowledge in the field of the social work profession and social welfare.
4. In the discussion section of the paper, the student articulates a theoretical model, theoretical framework, or conceptual model based on their critical analyses of the literature.
5. The conclusion section provides direction for future study of the problem area.
Format and Length of the Comprehensive Exam
The Comprehensive Exam should be no longer than 40-50 pages, excluding references.
The text should be formatted in 12-point font, double-spaced, and left justified with 1” margins all around. Pages must be numbered.
In addition, the title page of the Comprehensive Exam must include the following statement:
“This Comprehensive Exam is an independent piece of work submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements to be met prior to formal approval of a doctoral proposal for a doctoral thesis in social work.”
The Comprehensive Exam should be carefully edited prior to submission. The student may engage an editor for this purpose.
Submission of the Comprehensive Exam
The Comprehensive Exam is due on the specified deadline. The student will submit the final version of the Comprehensive Exam by uploading it on University of Toronto’s learning management platform, Quercus, by 11:59 PM in Eastern Time.
• Winter 2024 Session Deadline: Monday, April 15, 2024
• Summer 2023 Session Deadline: Monday, August 13, 2024
Plagiarism Detection Tool
Students are required to submit all written materials, including the Comprehensive Exam
Proposal, annotated reading list, and Comprehensive Exam to Ouriginal on Quercus for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. Students can upload their papers as many times as they wish to review their work before submitting a final version to the two assessors and the PhD Program Director. In doing so, students allow their essays to be included as source documents in the tool’s reference database, where they are used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism.
It has, on occasion, taken over 72 hours for an originality report to generate and be sent to students. Please keep this in mind should you wish to review a report before submitting your final paper.
Evaluation of the Comprehensive Exam
The supervisor and the second reader will provide the evaluation results and assessment,
reports within 3 weeks from the time of submission of the Comprehensive Exam unless otherwise specified.
The PhD Program Director serves as the Comprehensive Exam coordinator and oversees the process and implementation. The PhD Program Director assigns the final standing of credit (CR) or no-credit (NCR) after the supervisor confirms that the student has completed the requirements of the Comprehensive Exam.
The assessment criteria for the comprehensive exam include the following:
1. The logical development and presentation of the salient aspects of the topic selected.
2. The selection and use of relevant theoretical literature from a variety of knowledge areas and/or disciplines.
3. The critical assessment of related research literature.
4. The analysis and synthesis of conceptual material.
5. The articulation of a theoretical model, theoretical frameworks, or conceptual model, which integrates the salient issues identified through the critical analysis of the literature.
6. Quality and organization of writing.
7. Relevance to social work practice, policy, and research.
Possible Results of the Comprehensive Exam
Assessment of the Comprehensive Exam is on a “pass/fail” basis.
- Pass without changes
- Pass with minor revisions
- Pass with major revisions
Assessment details are as follows:
1. Pass without changes.
The Comprehensive Exam passed “without changes” is considered the final version and should be sent to the Administrative Coordinator, Admissions and Programs (ACA), who will catalogue the paper. The PhD Program Director will submit the standing “CR” upon the receipt of the final copy.
2. Pass with minor revisions or major revisions.
If the Comprehensive Exam is passed with minor revisions, the student has 3 weeks from the date of the assessment results to make changes. If the paper is passed with major revisions, the student has 8 weeks from the date of the assessment results to make necessary changes. The PhD Program Director will notify the student in writing that the student has passed the comprehensive exam with conditions, and that they must complete the revisions within the respective revision timeframes. In these two scenarios, the student must file an Extension to Complete Coursework form if they cannot complete the revisions and have an unconditionally approved Comprehensive Exam paper by the time the grades are due for SWK8000H. Students will receive a temporary non-grade report (SDF; Standing Deferred) for SWK8000H when the extension request is approved by the PhD Director.
Following the submission of the revisions, the supervisor is required to send an email message to the ACA confirming all changes have been approved. The student will send the final copy to the ACA, who will catalogue the paper. The PhD Program Director will notify the student in writing that the student has successfully met the Comprehensive Exam requirement, and the PhD Program Director will submit the standing “CR” upon the receipt of the final bound copy.
Students who fail to submit the final, unconditionally approved version of the Comprehensive Exam to the ACA following the above assessment options will not receive a credit and will not be permitted to proceed to the Thesis.
If the student fails the Comprehensive Exam (i.e., both assessors indicate failure on their evaluation form), the student will be provided with the assessors’ reports and receive an SDF for SWK8000H. The student can retake SWK8000H one more time in the following academic session with the same assessors, provided that the following academic session is before the end of the third year.
For students who write the exam a second time, if one or both assessors do not recommend approval on the second exam, the student will receive an NCR for SWK8000H and will be notified in writing by the PhD Program Director. The Faculty will submit a request to SGS for termination of the student’s registration for those who receive an NCR twice for SWK8000H Comprehensive Exam.
This is a credit (CR)/no credit (NCR) exam. The grade standing will be submitted by the PhD Program Director. The credit will only be given when the final approved version of the Comprehensive Exam is submitted to the ACA. Students who pass the Comprehensive Exam but fail to submit the final version within the respective timeframes (i.e., 3 weeks for minor revisions, and 8 weeks for major revisions) to the ACA will not receive a credit.
The temporary non-grade report (SDF; Standing Deferred) will be assigned to those students who have an approved course extension. Students who are unable to complete the Comprehensive Exam during the extension period will receive an NCR for the course by the PhD Director unless there is an approved second coursework extension.
The Faculty will submit a request to SGS for termination of registration in the PhD Program
for students who do not complete the requirements for SWK8000H after two attempts. The Faculty will also submit a request to SGS for termination of registration for students who do not take SWK8000H by the end of the third year unless there is an approved Extension to Achieve Candidacy.