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Graduate Comprehensive Exam Procedures

The HPSS written and oral exams are given to test students’ professional skills, critical thinking abilities, and content knowledge related to the coursework they have completed. Overall, faculty members who grade these exams are looking for a student’s ability to successfully defend his/her own leadership philosophy by using adequate and up-to-date theoretical support, to employ critical thinking skills to answer questions and to present this information in a professional and scholarly manner.


 Written and Oral Comprehensive Examination1

 Dates Fall 2018 - Summer 2019 2

Written Exam Dates
Oral Exam Dates3
Fall 2018 September 28, 2018 November 1 and 2, 2018
Spring 2019 March 1, 2019 April 4 and 5, 2019
Summer 2019 May 24, 2019 June 10-14, 2019


Written Exam Instructions and Procedure

  1. The written portion of the examination will consist of one case study question and will be given to the students on the day of the exam.
  2. The case study will require students to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of several aspects of the academic program including (but not limited to) personal philosophy, leadership, and management theory and practice, legal and ethical aspects of sport, and current issues in sport.
  3. To answer the prompt, students will write a single personal philosophy (position) statement that addresses their stance on a given issue. Essentially, students will describe how they would respond to the scenario as an athletic leader. This position statement will be graded on the following elements:
    1. Analysis of the current relevance of the scenario, its context, and its potential implications;
    2. Evidence of strong personal leadership philosophy based on reliable leadership and management theory and principles;
    3. Evidence of strong understanding of legal and ethical principles as they relate to the sports management setting;
    4. Evidence of clear understanding of the research process through integration of appropriate and relevant evidence-based theoretical support as well as sound writing practice;
  4. The written exam will be held in a computer laboratory on either the Pocatello campus or the Meridian campus. Students must have an ISU computer account and must be enrolled in a minimum of 1 (one) ISU Graduate credit during the semester in which they intend to sit for the exam. Students must know their own ISU username and password. If they are unsure of their ISU username or password they are advised to contact the ISU “Help Desk” at 208-282-4585 prior to the day of the exam. The exam will be proctored by SSPE graduate faculty members or by other representatives of the department.
  5. The exam will be held over a period of eight hours, with a supervised thirty-minute lunch break. Students will be notified when 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 15 minutes of exam time remain. At the end of eight hours, all work must cease, and the exam must be printed and submitted. The student examinee may submit the exam in less than eight hours, but if the exam is submitted, that student must leave the lab site and may not return.
  6. The student examinee may bring and/or have access to:
    1. A jump drive that includes any course content or materials (including previously written papers);
    2. Textbooks or other resource books (e.g. APA manual);
    3. Printed or handwritten notes from courses;
    4. Papers submitted from previous coursework;
    5. iPods or other music devices with headphones
    6. Internet resources, including, but not limited to:
      1. Idaho State University Oboler Library databases
      2. Professional websites
      3. Internet search engines
  7. The student examinee may not bring and/or access at any time during the exam:
    1. Personal laptop computers, iPads, cell phones or other electronic and/or communication devices.
    2. Internet messaging software or social networking sites (e.g. Yahoo Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live, etc.)
    3. E-mail accounts;
    4. Other examinees or other examinees’ materials
  8. Students are strongly advised to bring their APA Manual (current edition) along with a jump drive or other storage device. Students should “save” their document to their jump drive frequently during the exam. A copy of the finished product should also be saved electronically. The information stored on the device may be used during the preparation of the oral portion of the exam.
  9. The examinee may bring food and drink to the exam, but may be restricted by lab policies related to eating or drinking at the computer station.
  10. Following submission of the written exam, the student’s major advisor and a second graduate faculty member from within the SSPE Department will review the completed exam and decide whether or not the examinee has successfully passed the written portion of the exam. A decision regarding the pass or failure of the written exam will occur no later than two weeks following the date of the written examination. A failure of the written exam constitutes a failure of the entire exam. Students who do not pass on their initial written exam attempt may reschedule the written exam, with permission from their advisor, during a subsequent semester (must be within 3 semesters). A failure of the second written exam attempt will result in dismissal from the program.
  11. It is highly recommended that students begin preparation for the oral examination immediately following the completion of the written examination.

Oral Exam Instructions and Procedure

  1. Students passing the written portion of the examination will proceed to a 1-hour oral defense of their written case study question. The purpose of the oral examination is to have the student elaborate on and defend his/her own personal philosophy (position) statement. The oral defense will consist of:
    1. A 15-20 minute multimedia presentation (handouts and other aids are appropriate). The presentation should summarize and expand upon the personal philosophy statement completed for the comprehensive portion of the examination. It is highly recommended that students incorporate additional theoretical support not initially presented in the written examination, but that they do not change their position or philosophy.
    2. Following the student’s prepared oral presentation, a question/answer session will commence. Questions will be asked by graduate committee members and will be directly related to your presentation and/or any part of the student’s degree program. These additional questions may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
      1. Philosophy of Athletics
      2. Leadership and Management Theory
      3. Law and Ethics
      4. Research Methods
      5. Sports Marketing
      6. Psychology of Sport
      7. Current Issues in Sport
      8. Other relevant coursework
    3. The graduate faculty committee for the oral examination will consist of the student’s
      1. Major Advisor (an SSPE Graduate Faculty Member)
      2. Second Graduate Faculty Member from within the SSPE Department
      3. Graduate Faculty Representative from outside the College of Education
    4. The student passes the exam if a majority of the above committee so votes.
  2. Students failing the oral portion of the examination fail the entire exam. If a student fails the examination on his/her first attempt, he/she may attempt one additional examination (both written and oral) in a subsequent semester, with permission from their advisor. The second exam must take place on a scheduled date during the subsequent (3) semesters unless otherwise approved by the SSPE Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate School. The second examination will consist of a different written case study prompt. A failure of the second written exam will constitute a failure of the entire comprehensive examination. A failure of the second oral exam will also constitute a failure of the entire examination. Any failure of the second examination will result in dismissal from the program.


Written/Oral Exam Procedure for Non-Thesis students