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Examinations and Thesis Option

In addition to successfully completing all course work, students must EITHER a) pass a comprehensive examination to be administered by the National Security Affairs and International Relations Program; or b) complete a 6 credit, directed thesis option.

When a student has completed all coursework, has maintained a minimum of 3.0 GPA with no "incomplete" grades, and is a "student in good standing" with no disciplinary actions pending or disciplinary tasks to complete, the student will be eligible to take the comprehensive examination. Alternatively, when a student has completed all other coursework in the program, has maintained a minimum of 3.0 GPA with no "incomplete" grades, and is a "student in good standing" with no disciplinary actions pending or disciplinary tasks to complete, the student will be eligible to begin the directed thesis option.

The comprehensive exam is an assessment of the student’s ability to integrate the knowledge and skills gained through course work and is designed to test the student’s written ability to critically analyze and apply course based knowledge to a range of issues. The comprehensive exam will be administered in two parts. Part one will focus on historical and theoretical knowledge acquired through course work, while part two will test student’s ability to apply knowledge and skills acquired through course work to hypothetical security situations. The comprehensive exam will be scored like all major assignments in the program, using a rubric and assessing students’ competencies in regards to program outcomes. Students must receive a grade of 70% or higher to pass the comprehensive exam. The comprehensive exam is a graduation requirement. Students who score below 70% on this requirement must retake the comprehensive exam. The comprehensive exam can be taken a maximum of three times. Students who cannot pass it in three attempts will not graduate. Students must finish all coursework and pass the comprehensive examination within 5 years. The comprehensive exam is offered three times a year: in January, May and August/September.

Faculty members are assigned to review the answers. Students are assigned an examination number. Thus, faculty members do not know whose answers they are reviewing. In order to fail a question, two faculty reviewers must award a failing grade.

The directed thesis serves as a capstone on the student’s experience in the National Security Affairs and International Relations program. As such preparation for this course began on day one of the student’s course of study of in the program. The theories, research methods and analytical skills, and substantive knowledge acquired by the student through the master’s curriculum provide the foundation upon which this thesis project is built. Working under the direction of a designated faculty member in the program students will be responsible for developing and planning an innovative project, crafting a viable thesis, engaging in research using appropriate primary and secondary resource material, and executing a polished work of analysis that contributes to knowledge in the field. In addition to submitting a written thesis, students are required to offer an oral defense of their project. Subject to departmental approval, students may choose to undertake the directed thesis as two, three credit options spread out over two consecutive terms, or as a single six credit option taken in one term.

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