Doctoral Comprehensive Examination for Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

The CPDP adopted a new format and process for doctoral comprehensive examination in 2019. In lieu of a more traditional two-day exam covering specific domains, all students complete an integrative literature review identifying a gap in the current literature that is completed with a goal of publication in mind. Students engage in the comps process after being advanced to doctoral candidacy (typically after completion of the master’s thesis) beginning work on the comps during the fall semester of the third year and completing the process in the spring semester of the third year. There are multiple steps involved in the comps including: identifying a comps committee, producing a letter of intent, writing the written exam, and an oral defense.  

In producing an integrative literature review, students address a novel question or identify a gap in the existing professional literature on a topic of their choosing. An overarching goal of the comps is for the student to engage in this process independently with committee consultation and feedback occurring during the letter of intent stage and evaluation occurring at the written exam and oral defense. The topic of the comprehensive exam may ultimately be related to a student’s dissertation topic, but it is not meant to be the introduction to the dissertation.  

More information on the format, grading, process, and timeline can be found in the CPDP Student Handbook.