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Comprehensives, Examinations, and Theses

Master's Students

There is no general requirement for a comprehensive examination at the master's level. Graduate programs may, at their own discretion, require a comprehensive examination in the student's field of study as part of the degree requirements.

Where a comprehensive examination is required, programs must make available to students a written statement of examination procedures such as the purpose, form, length, subject area(s), and scope of the examination, as well as information on the criteria for evaluation.

In the creative and performing arts, a thesis may consist of creative work (e.g., paintings, writing) or a performance. Programs may, at their discretion, require additional supporting documentation.

In programs requiring a thesis, the thesis must be presented according to procedures described at Thesis and Dissertation Preparation.

Unless specified otherwise by the program, marks for the master's thesis will be assigned as Pass/Fail.

Doctoral Students


The UBC Okanagan campus provides two formats for completing comprehensives: a series of written comprehensive papers or comprehensive examinations. The form and specification for the candidate's comprehensive are determined by the program.

Students who write papers for comprehensives are required to complete up to five comprehensive papers in consultation with their supervisor and supervisory committee. The comprehensives are intended to provide an assessment of the student's mastery of a breadth of research areas related to their program of study. Comprehensive papers should be significant literature reviews or focused research projects. Set in distinctive research areas, these papers are designed to provide the student with exposure to a breadth of research theories and methods, and to provide practical experience completing projects and preparing the results for publication.

A program may require comprehensive examinations as an alternative to comprehensive papers. A comprehensive examination is normally held after completion of all required coursework and is intended to test the student's grasp of the chosen field of study as a whole, as well as the student's ability to communicate his or her understanding of it in English or in French. The candidate's committee will set and judge this examination in a manner compatible with the policy of the graduate program concerned. Programs should make available to students a written statement of examination policy and procedures. The comprehensive examination is separate and distinct from the evaluation of the thesis prospectus.

Comprehensives normally should be completed by the end of the second year of their program and before commencing research for the final thesis.


Doctoral students will take the following examinations:

  • course examinations where applicable; a minimum of 68% must be obtained unless otherwise specified;
  • tests of the student's ability to read languages other than English, where program regulations require it;
  • a graduate program may require a formal examination of the thesis before it is transmitted to the College of Graduate Studies for final oral examination.

Students should consult their respective graduate advisors for information about program requirements.


All doctoral candidates are required to complete a thesis. A candidate's thesis must be presented according to procedures described at Thesis and Dissertation Preparation.

All doctoral students will take a final oral examination or thesis defence.

All doctoral theses must be assessed by an examiner external to the University, as well as by internal examiners. The external examiner is chosen by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies in consultation with the graduate program concerned. Procedures for choosing a suitable external examiner must be initiated at least three months before completion of the thesis. The external examiner's written report must be received before the final examination can take place.

Final oral examinations can be scheduled no sooner than eight weeks after submission of the approved thesis to the College of Graduate Studies. All other degree requirements must also have been completed.

The final oral examination is open to all members of the University and to the public. Notice of the examination will be available at the College of Graduate Studies.

The Dean of the College of Graduate Studies must approve the membership of the examining committee. The Dean or the Dean's designate chairs the examination. The examining committee judges the candidate's success and makes a recommendation to the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Marks for the Ph.D. thesis and Ed.D. dissertation will be assigned Pass/Fail.

More information on oral examination procedures is available at College of Graduate Studies. Students registered in a doctoral program are not permitted supplemental examinations.

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