The PhD Comprehensive Exam is made up of:

  • 1 'major' exam, 8 hours
  • 2 'minor' exams, 3 hours each
  • Oral examination by the field committee

Comp Exam Schedule

  • Last week in October
  • Second week in February
  • First week in April

Exams are offered only as in the schedule listed above. 

When can I register for the exam?

Comprehensive exams are set by the field committees and are to be sustained within five years for the Historical and Theological Studies field. Exams may only be taken after all other residency requirements are fulfilled.

Deadline to register: one month prior to exam week

How do I schedule the exams?

To register for the exam, contact: HTFC chair, Dr. Wynne

Students must register at least one month prior to the respective exam week.

The HTFC chair will notify Academic Affairs of any comp exam registrations. Academic Affairs will proctor each exam and deliver the completed exam to the Field Committee. If the HTFC chair has given you permission to take your comps, feel free to contact Academic Affairs (academicaffairs@wts.edu) and provide the dates and times you would like to take the exam. If you prefer, you are permitted to schedule your exams with one day between the major and minor exams, but there may be no more than one day between the major and minor exams. 

Comprehensive exams cannot be rescheduled.

Exam Format

Written Exams

The written comp exams test the student’s knowledge of each of the three concentrations within the field. In the student’s own concentration, extensive and in-­depth knowledge is expected. The student will be required both to analyze and to evaluate the central documents and ideas within that concentration, and an ability to contribute creatively to discussion of the fundamental problems in the concentration must be demonstrated. 

In each of the other two concentrations in the field, the student is expected to show a general familiarity with basic issues and trends and to be aware of the contributions of specific individuals. In all three concentrations, the student must reflect on the Seminary’s own heritage and perspective, although no student is ever required to agree with the Seminary’s position on any issue.

The written examinations are over two days—eight hours for the students’ concentration on the first day and six hours for the other two concentrations within the field (three hours each) on the second day. 

Written exams are typed on a laptop provided by Academic Affairs in a quiet space in either the Library or Andreas Center, as determined by Academic Affairs.

Breaks are permitted, but shall not exceed 30 minutes. No studying is permitted during break time. All start and end times (including any breaks) must be recorded on the exam.

Oral Exam

The oral portion of the comprehensive examination will be scheduled as soon as possible after the written comprehensive examinations have been accepted. 

The oral exam is given on the basis of your performance in the earlier written examinations. Oral exams are given shortly after the written exams, on a day specified by the HTFC chair. For April and October written exams, orals are usually given during the reading period, after the last day of classes. 

Aids Allowed

Greek/Hebrew Bible (exception: for exams in church history, an English Bible may be used)

Exam Preparation

Reading lists and other preparatory materials are available in the PhD Resources Google Folder.

In preparation for the the oral exam, it is permissible to review the questions and responses from the written examination, beginning directly after completion of the written exams. Ask your proctor for copies.

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