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Comprehensive Exam Preparation and Thesis Requirements

In order to graduate from the Counselor Education Department all students must (a) successfully pass the Comprehensive Exam, or (b) write and defend a scholarly project (the master’s thesis), or (c) develop a professional portfolio (school counseling students only). This section addresses the exam, its goals, format, and content. The Comprehensive Exam is a 3-hour exam, offered biannually (May and November) that seeks to:

  1. Insure that department graduates possess the necessary knowledge to successfully practice as counselors in a variety of community settings, and
  2. Prepare students for the national certification exams (e.g., NCC, CRC, CDMS) and the state licensure exam (i.e., Oregon’s LPC exam). A second component, students’ possession of clinical skill, is measured by successful completion of the practicum and internship experiences.

The Comprehensive Exam is comprised of cross-specialization multiple-choice questions that sample content covered in required-only Counselor Education Department courses (2 hours).

The multiple-choice section typically presents the student with 120 questions based on nine content areas that sample CACREP and CORE approved academic areas (i.e., required courses).

These include:

  • Helping Relationships (based on such courses as Interpersonal Relationships and Practicum)
  • Theories and Interventions (Theories and Intervention I and II)
  • Social and Cultural Foundations (Multicultural Counseling)
  • Group Counseling (Group Counseling, Group Practicum)
  • Lifestyle and Career Development (Career Counseling, Occupation Analysis/Vocational Evaluation)
  • Human Growth and Development (Developmental Foundations, Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis)
  • Appraisal and Diagnosis (Using Tests in Counseling, Diagnosis)
  • Research and Evaluation (Education Research: Counseling)
  • Professional Orientation (Introduction to Counseling, Ethical and Legal Issues, Practicum)

Students are advised to review material covered in these required courses prior to taking the Comprehensive Exam. Students should also contact their advisors for assistance on preparing and organizing material for the exam. The use of small study groups may also be beneficial as a means of organizing and reviewing material for the exam.

Students who are functionally limited (i.e., have physical, sensory, or mental restrictions supported by medical documentation) and who seek special arrangements and provisions when taking the exam must register with the Disability Resource Center and request approved accommodations, in writing, prior to the exam.

Students are permitted to receive a “no pass” on the exam only once. In the event that the student fails the exam a second time, he or she will not be permitted to graduate from the Counselor Education Department.

If a student fails the exam, his or her Comprehensive Exam is considered a no pass. In this case the exam must be retaken. If the exam is failed a second time, the student will be required to take an oral exam that covers the core areas reflected in the multiple-choice exam. If following the oral exam, the student’s knowledge of the core areas still does not merit a passing grade, his or her exam will be considered a no-pass a second time and the student will not be permitted to graduate.

Thesis Supervision and Development Guidelines for Faculty and Students in Counselor Education

Students who plan to complete a thesis in conjunction with their MA/MS need to initiate the thesis project at least one year (one and one half years would be better) prior to the projected date of graduation. Since the planning, execution, writing, and defense of a thesis requires at least four quarters, faculty may decline to participate on a thesis committee unless a student initiates the thesis enough in advance of the projected term of graduation to allow adequate time for the development of a well-executed and written product. All students completing a thesis must incorporate no less than six and no more than nine credits of COUN 503 (Thesis) into their 72-credit planned program of graduate study.

EPFA 511 or COUN 510 (Research and Program Evaluation in Counseling) must be completed prior to the initiation of a thesis.

NOTE: Students may not access the library or obtain faculty supervision for a thesis unless they are enrolled in at least one credit.

The following guidelines should be followed by students and faculty during the thesis development process:

  1. Students obtain thesis information from the Office of Graduate Studies website. Note: Graduate Candidate Deadlines should also be obtained. The oral presentation of a thesis and final copy must be completed well in advance of the end of the quarter chosen by the student to complete all degree requirements. 
  2. The student selects three faculty from the School of Education. One of the faculty must agree to chair the Thesis Committee.
  3.  The student, in consultation with the thesis chair, develops a thesis proposal (not to exceed 10 pages):
    • Chapter I Introduction and Problem Statement
    • Chapter II Literature Review
    • Chapter III Methodology
    • Chapter IV Presentation and Analysis of Data
    • Chapter V Summary and Recommendations
    NOTE: Not every thesis will be formatted into a five chapter paradigm. Some topics may lend credence to a four chapter or a six chapter format. Only the first three chapters are part of the thesis proposal.
  4. Student organizes a committee meeting; room scheduling via Elizabeth Billman 503-725-4689. Faculty should receive the proposal two weeks prior to the meeting. Faculty provide input and suggest changes.
  5.  After the student incorporates suggested revisions and receives approval from the thesis chair, the student must submit the proposal to the University Human Subjects Committee if human subjects are part of the data collection process. The application for approval of human subjects is available in the Office of Grants and Contracts in 105 Neuburger Hall. If revisions are requested by the Human Subjects Committee, the student must organize an additional meeting with the Thesis Committee to incorporate such changes.
  6. NOTE: Under no circumstances may a student begin writing or data collection until the first five steps have been completed.
  7. Student, with the consultation of the thesis chair, drafts all chapters. When the thesis is written as well as it can be prior to input from other committee members, the student provides copies to the other two faculty.
  8. Faculty provides written feedback to student within two weeks.
  9. Student and thesis chair incorporate faculty feedback.
  10. Thesis chair, in consultation with the student, identifies two faculty, outside the School of Education to serve as graduate representatives (OGS appoints/selects one of these). Thesis Chair sends in form (GO-16M) to OGS.
  11. Student meets with graduate representative, as appointed by OGS, and provides a copy of the thesis.
  12. Four weeksprior to the oral defense of the thesis, the student contacts faculty to organize the date and time. Student schedules location of defense via Stephanie Randol 503-725-4689.
  13. After the oral defense, final changes suggested by faculty are integrated. The student then circulates signature pages to faculty after the chair of the Thesis Committee approves the final revisions.