Area Paper Guidelines Fall 2011 to Present

Area Paper as a Comprehensive Exam 


The following guidelines are designed to assist students in the preparation for the area paper as a comprehensive exam. Each student who chooses the area paper option should study the guidelines and work closely with a faculty advisor.

Area Paper Reading List and Deadlines

Before the last semester in which the student plans to graduate, he or she must submit an area paper contract to the graduate coordinator. The student will be provided with a reading list and a list of area paper committee members at the beginning of the semester in which he or she will take the area paper as a comprehensive exam. 
The student must be prepared to attend an intensive writing area paper exam preparation session during the 2nd month of classes in the semester in which the student plans to graduate. The student must also be prepared to take the area paper as a comprehensive exam on the last day of classes at the end of the semester in which the student plans to graduate.

Area Paper as a Comprehensive Exam Format


  1. The exam is a closed book and closed note exam. 
  2. Students will be required to come to campus to take the comprehensive exam. 
  3. Students are expected to bring a laptop or make arrangements with the graduate coordinator to have a laptop available for their use at least 2 weeks prior to taking the area paper comprehensive exam. 
  4. Students are not permitted to use Internet access. 
  5. Students will be given a blank CD to burn their answers on for dissemination to the area paper committee. 
  6. Students are given a set of questions in which they are expected to answer three questions within a 6 hours.


  1. Every academic year an area paper committee is chosen and questions are developed by the committee members based on the assigned reading list and their area of expertise. 
  2. These questions will be derived from information covered in MSCJ core curriculum and selected electives.
  3. Area paper committee members are expected to grade all area papers as a comprehensive exam during their tenure on the committee. 
  4. In the event that numerous students take the area paper comprehensive exam at the same time all criminal justice professors are expected to assist in grading the area paper comprehensive exams.

Grading/Evaluation of the Area Paper

The area paper committee will use the following guidelines to grade the area paper.  Exams will be awarded one of the following decisions: satisfactory, revise and resubmit, or unsatisfactory. A student whose exam is awarded a revise and resubmit decision will be awarded either a grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory once the revisions are reviewed. Students are permitted 2 comprehensive exam unsatisfactory grades before being dismissed from the program.