School of Social Work

Comprehensive Exams

California State University, School of Social Work

Master’s in Social Work Comprehensive Exam

Spring 2020

The Master’s of Social Work program requires students to satisfactorily complete a culminating activity: a thesis, a community-based project, or a comprehensive examination as a condition of graduation. The culminating activity serves as an integrative experience in graduate education.

This comprehensive examination is structured as an integrative paper or poster incorporating the student’s best work. The comprehensive examination should reflect advanced practice knowledge, skills and values applied to a micro, mezzo, or macro level case in your concentration-year practicum.  Students should choose a case with which they have worked/shadowed extensively.  Students should look at the case retrospectively, discussing not only what was actually done on the case, but what could have been done given what the student knows about the population, problem and intervention from course material, practice experience and the relevant literature. 

There is an expectation that you paraphrase and cite the relevant literature demonstrating your understanding of the existing evidence. While you may have written about this case in a course assignment, you are required to write a new description of the case.  You may not quote yourself, so be sure to paraphrase appropriately. 

Students electing to complete a comprehensive exam may choose a written or oral format.  The written exam consists of a 12-page paper outlining the key elements of the case (PDF).  Similarly, the oral exam consists of preparing an electronic poster presentation (recommend to use PowerPoint), outlining the key elements of the case along with an oral presentation of their case to a panel of 3-4 faculty members.  Both the written and oral exam are evaluated according to the outline of key elements provided.  For students working in a macro context, you may write your exam according to these macro key elements (PDF).

All students planning to complete a comprehensive exam are invited to attend the comprehensive exam workshops.  These workshops are designed to help you formulate your case key elements and discuss the integrated learning process.

Workshop Schedule (these hours can count towards your field hours):

  • Session I Thursday, October 31st 3:30 – 4:30
  • Session II Thursday, January 23rd 3:30 – 4:30

 

Due date:

All comprehensive exams (papers for written exams and electronic poster for oral exams) are due Friday, February 14th, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

  • A link will be available on Blackboard Learn on the MSW Concentration Year Organization for both written papers and oral exam poster PowerPoint.
  • Oral presentations will take place on Thursday, February 20th from 5:30 – 7:30

 

Logistics

The comprehensive examination must be completed during the student’s last academic term with a submission date of no later than Friday, February 14th, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.  The exam will be turned in online (using a Turnitin link for written exams AND oral exam poster PowerPoint) in the Masters in Social Work Organization on Blackboard that will be set up for this purpose. 

Written Exam

The actual writing of the comprehensive examination is solely the graduate student’s responsibility.  Each student will write a maximum 12-page paper, not including references, which analyzes the case while integrating core social work content. Your paper must follow APA formatting, including the use of 12-point font, one-inch margins, double spacing, complete citations, a clear reference page and a cover page.  Any text beyond 12 pages will not be considered in the evaluation of the exam, this includes appendices, charts, and downloaded documents.

The comprehensive examination will be read and evaluated by two faculty members who serve on the comprehensive exam committee. The comprehensive examination will be graded on the breadth, depth, and application of the core content areas to the case. Each section will receive a score of “pass” or “needs revision.” All sections must be passed to pass the exam. In the case of disagreement on the part of the two faculty readers, a third faculty member will review the comprehensive examination to cast the deciding vote.

Comprehensive examinations where any sections are evaluated as needing revision will be returned to the student to rewrite those sections. Students then will have to rewrite those sections and submit the entire exam, with the rewritten sections, via Turnitin using the comprehensive exam revision link that will be created for that purpose. Evaluators will provide written comments and instructions for revisions and/or rewriting. The Office of Graduate Studies’ rules allow students to submit only one revised comprehensive examination.

*Please note: Faculty, including writing coaches and tutors, will not read, correct, or critique comprehensive examinations prior to submission; however, faculty including field instructors may discuss ideas and concepts with student authors.

Oral Exam

Posters are due on Friday, February 14th, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. to a Blackboard link that will be provided.  Students should be prepared to orally present their work on Thursday, February 20th from 5:30 – 7:30A sample poster can be found here (PDF).

The oral comprehensive examination will be evaluated by two faculty members who serve on the Comprehensive Exam Committee.  Oral presentations will last no longer than 10 minutes in which students are expected to give an overview of the case and a brief discussion of each of the key elements. 

Following the student presentation of the case, faculty will ask any clarifying questions of the presenter.  The comprehensive examination will be graded on the breadth, depth, and application of the core content areas to the case.  Each section will receive a score of “pass” or “needs revision.” All sections must be passed to pass the exam. In the case of disagreement on the part of the two faculty reviewers, the third faculty member attending the presentation will cast the deciding vote.

Any section of the oral presentation, which the committee deems the student has not passed will require the student to write that section.  A link will be provided in Blackboard Learn for the revision submission.  Evaluators will provide written comments and instructions for revisions and/or writing. The Office of Graduate Studies’ rules allow students to submit only one revised comprehensive examination.