Comprehensive Examinations

Open notebook on a desk in front of a well-cushioned chairExam Schedule | Area Committees and Reading Lists | Instructions for Students | Comprehensive Exam Policy

The PhD program requires that students take two comprehensive examinations in their chosen major fields of sociology.

We offer comprehensive exams in the following core areas of department specialization: Colonialization, Racialization and Indigeneity; Sociology of Crime and Law; Sociology of Culture; Gender; Global Migration; Health & Mental Health; Political Sociology; Qualitative Methods; Computational and Quantitative Methods; Social Networks; Theory; and Work, Stratification & Markets.

We recommend that students take at least two courses in the area prior to taking the comp exam in that area. Most courses are offered at least every other year in all core areas; yearly in theory and methods.

In addition to the examinations offered in core areas, students may request to take a comprehensive exam in the following areas of expertise: Aging & Life Course; Environmental Sociology; Family; Social Policy; and Urban Sociology. Students may file a request with the Grad Office to take an exam in one of these areas of expertise at least six months ahead of time; if the Associate Grad chair is able to form a faculty comp committee in that area, s/he will approve the request. We will not offer comprehensive examinations in other areas.    

Comprehensive Exam Schedule

Comprehensive Exams are tentatively scheduled for:

  • August 19–23, 2024
  • February 3–7, 2025

We advise students to plan to take their Major comprehensive exam at the end of year one and their Minor comprehensive exam by the end of the second year, after having taken coursework related to the field being tested. Students have the option of sitting the exams in February or in August. The Major exam is offered as a five-day take-home exam, and for Minor exams as a three-day take-home exam. The amount of time and the timing of the exam is non-negotiable.

Differences between Major and Minor exams are described below (note that students are permitted to take both exams under the Major exam format). Students must notify the Graduate Office of intent to take the comprehensive examination via email to the Graduate Program Assistant by October 15 for February exam or April 15 for August exam.  The completed Comprehensive Exam Request Form is due to the Graduate Office after the group meeting occurs but no later than November 30 for the February exam or May 31 for the August exam.

Area Committees (tentative) and Reading Lists

*Previous COMP Committees, Reading Lists, and COMP Exams Link 

Area Reading List Comp Exam Exam Date Chair Member Member
PDF iconColonialism, Racialization, Indigeneity - 2023 (PDF).pdf PDF iconCRI Exam - Feb 2023 (PDF).pdf August 2024 Adese Flores Locklear
February 2025 Adese Flores Locklear
PDF iconCrime & Law Reading List, as of May 29 2023 (PDF).pdf PDF iconCrime and Law Exam (PDF) August 2024 Owusu-Bempah Super Maurutto
February 2025 Owusu-Bempah Super Goodman
PDF iconSociology of Culture - 2023.pdf PDF iconCulture (PDF).pdf August 2024 Leschziner Mullen Baumann
February 2025 Leschziner Mullen D. Silver

PDF iconGender - 2023 (PDF).pdf


PDF iconGender Exam (PDF)

PDF iconGender Exam - Feb 2023.pdf

August 2024 Green Taylor Alegria
February 2025 Green Taylor Alegria


PDF iconGlobal Migration (PDF).pdf


PDF iconGlobal Migration Exam - Feb 2023.pdf August 2024 Landolt Cranford Peng
February 2025 Landolt Cranford Korteweg
PDF iconHealth and Mental Health - 2022 (PDF) PDF iconHealth and Mental Health Exam (PDF) August 2024 Berry Spence M. Silver
February 2025 Berry Spence Wheaton
PDF iconPolitical Sociology - 2022 (PDF) PDF iconPolitical Sociology Exam (PDF) August 2024 Levi Veugelers Y. Lee
February 2025 Levi Veugelers Y. Lee

PDF iconQualitative Methods - 2022 (PDF)


PDF iconQualitative Methods Exam (PDF)

PDF iconQualitative Methods Exam - Feb 2023 (PDF).pdf

August 2024 Fields Berrey Doering
February 2025 Fields Berrey Doering
PDF iconQuantitative Methods (PDF) PDF iconQuant Methods (PDF).pdf August 2024 Miles Dokshin Fosse
February 2025 Miles Dokshin Fosse

PDF iconSocial Network - 2023 (PDF).pdf


PDF iconSocial Networks Exam (PDF)

PDF iconNetworks Exam - Feb 2023.pdf

August 2024 Erickson Boase McEwan
February 2025 McEwan Boase Smith
PDF iconTheory (PDF) PDF iconTheory Exam (PDF) August 2024 Baber Bryant Plys
February 2025 Baber Bryant Plys
PDF iconWork, Stratification, and Markets (PDF).pdf PDF iconWork, Stratification, Markets Exam (PDF) August 2024 Dinovitzer Horowitz Eads
February 2025 Dinovitzer Horowitz Eads

In recent years, because students have requested it, we have also offered comprehensive exams in PDF iconLife Course and Aging (PDF)PDF iconEnvironmental Sociology (PDF).pdfPDF iconSociology of Families - 2024.pdfPDF iconSocial Policy.pdf, and PDF iconUrban Sociology (PDF).

Comprehensive Examination Instructions for Students

The following instructions are mailed out to exam takers 2 weeks prior to exam start and at 9am on day of exam: I will e-mail your questions to you at 9am on Monday, [date of exam start]. If you do not receive your exam by 9:15 am, contact the Graduate Office immediately. These instructions will be included:

  1. Be sure to send a quick reply to let the Graduate Office know you received the questions, and indicate in your email that you read and understand these instructions, as well as the University’s policy on Academic Integrity and the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters (links below).
  2. Any medical, mental health and/or accessibility issues must be discussed with the Graduate Office and/or the appropriate University Office (e.g. Accessibility Office) at least six weeks prior to the exam. Any accommodations suggested by those offices must be in place before the exam begins.
  3. Do NOT email the comp exam committee directly for any reason during or after the exam. When your exam is complete, email the answers to the Graduate Office at
  4. Answers must be submitted in Word format no later than 5:00 PM EST on Wednesday/Friday, [date of exam end]. Answers will not be accepted after this time. Your exam will be marked as a fail in these cases.
  5. For Major exams:  You are required to answer THREE (3) QUESTIONS (ONE QUESTION FROM EACH OF PARTS A, B & C).  Each answer should be 10-12 pages (12-point Times New Roman font, standard margins, and double-spaced) in length. The complete exam should not total more than 36 pages in length (12-point Times New Roman font, standard margins, and double-spaced), not including references. THE COMMITTEE WILL NOT READ PAST THE 36TH PAGE.
  6. For Minor exams, assuming the standard shortened option:You are required to answer ONE (1) QUESTION. The answer should be 10-12 pages (12-point Times New Roman font, standard margins, and double-spaced) in length, not including references. THE COMMITTEE WILL NOT READ PAST THE 12TH PAGE.
  7. If you have a clarification or other question that arises once the exam has been sent to you, direct your question to with a CC to the associate graduate chair (
  8. If, for any reason, you feel you cannot complete the exam on time, do not quit writing. You must turn in as much writing as you possibly can. You will be graded and given comments on what you complete even if it is only an outline of what you planned to write. Let the Graduate Office know immediately if this situation occurs and we will send you further instructions. If you do not turn in any writing or you do not notify the Graduate Office of problems at the time they occur, the exam will be marked as a fail.
  9. Academic Integrity: submitting comprehensive exam questions to ChatGPT or other generative AI tools in order to generate, write and/or edit comp answers is prohibited. All comp answers must be originally crafted using students’ own ideas, without the aid of generative AI. Notes about other uses of AI: *During the writing of the comp exam, students may use editing software that assists them with translation and writing revision, such as DeepL, Grammarly or the Microsoft Office suite. *While it is not mandatory, students can keep drafts of their work-in-progress prior to submission.*In the months leading up to the exam, students may use AI tools to help prepare and organize readings for the exam. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information generated by AI tools. In addition, no one other than you may read, edit or comment on your exam prior to submission to the comp committee and Graduate Office. It is your responsibility to read and be aware of the University’s Academic Integrity resources, and specifically the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. Please note, your exam may be run through a plagiarism detection tool, Ouriginal, for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University’s use of the Ouriginal service are described on the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation website:

  10. Students will receive results approximately four weeks after turning in the exam.
  11. Once the grade is submitted, you will be notified of your results by the Graduate Office.

Comprehensive Exam Policy

You can view the PDF iconComprehensive Exam Policy April 2024.pdf here.