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University of South Florida · College of Behavioral & Community Sciences · Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling

Comprehensive Examination


  • Spring COMPS - Monday April 10, 2017 in MHC 1635
  • Fall COMPS-Monday November 6, 2017 from 9:00-1:15 in MHC 1635

The Comprehensive Examination is an important part of your matriculation process and is geared toward assessing your understanding of the significant content and process areas of our master's degree program. The Graduate School requires a comprehensive examination or an alternative method designated by the academic unit to measure student competency in the major areas prior to advancement to the master's degree. In addition, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges requires an evaluation of student competency in order to evaluate whether our program meets a set of standards of quality. The Department has chosen the comprehensive examination to meet these requirements. As noted in the Student Handbook:

In addition to the required courses and a total of 60 semester hours, all students must pass a final written comprehensive examination. Students are eligible to sit for the examination during the semester in which they will complete all program requirements, with the exception of Internship. Completion of Internship is not a requirement to sit for the examination, which is given in fall and spring semesters. Students are required to submit a signed "Comprehensive Examination: Information & Protocol" form and a "Graduation Certification" form, which are located at the bottom of this page, before registering for the examination. Additionally, students must be registered for a minimum of two (2) graduate credit hours at the time they sit for the examination. Students may take the comprehensive examination a total of three times. Students who fail the examination must retake it in the semester immediately following the semester in which they failed it or the next semester that it is offered. Students who fail the examination three times will be recommended for dismissal from the program. In keeping with the Graduate School policy, students must enroll in two credit hours in the semester in which they retake the examination. The M.A. degree will not be awarded until the student has passed the examination. In preparation for the examination, students are strongly encouraged to retain their course textbooks and notes from all courses.

Comprehensive Examinations will occur in two 2 hour blocks, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (followed by a 15 minute break) and from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. You will be notified of the exact date and location. You should register to take this examination as early in the semester as possible.

Any student with a disability must notify the department no less than 30 days prior to the examination date to discuss necessary accommodations and/or special services.

Examination Structure:

The comprehensive examination consists of 225 multiple-choice questions. It is administered in two sections: 120 questions in the first session (Section I); and 105 questions in the second session (Section II).

Examination Content:

The comprehensive examination is comprised of questions across fifteen (15) knowledge domains underlying rehabilitation and mental health counseling. The knowledge domains consist of 2014 CRC, 2011 CORE, and 2009 CACREP knowledge domains.

Knowledge Domains:

  1. Rehabilitation Counseling: Concepts and Applications (CRC, CORE)
  2. Legal, Ethical, and Professional Standards in Counseling (CORE, CACREP)
  3. Foundations of Mental Health Counseling (CRC, CORE, CACREP)
  4. Counseling Theories and Practice (CRC, CACREP)
  5. Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling (CRC, CORE, CACREP)
  6. Human Growth and Development (CORE, CACREP)
  7. Human Sexuality Counseling (CACREP)
  8. Career and Lifestyle Assessment (CRC, CORE, CACREP)
  9. Medical Aspects of Disability (CRC, CORE)
  10. Research and Program Evaluation (CRC, CORE, CACREP)
  11. Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychopathology(CRC, CACREP)
  12. Foundations of Substance Abuse Counseling (CACREP)
  13. Counseling in Community Settings (CORE)
  14. Individual Evaluation and Assessment (CRC, CORE, CACREP)
  15. Group Theories and Practice (CORE, CACREP)

Passing the Exam:

A student must correctly answer 80% of the multiple choice items (180 out of 225 questions) to pass the comprehensive examination.

A student who fails the first time s/he takes the comprehensive examination must meet with his or her faculty advisor to receive guidance on how to achieve success. Failure on the second taking of the comprehensive examination shall result in dismissal from the graduate program.

Preparing for the Comprehensive Examination:

Students have used a number of strategies to get themselves ready. Suggestions include:

  1. Reviewing course notes, required textbooks, course content posted to Canvas, and assignments prepared for all required courses.
  2. Forming study groups with other students in the program and reviewing together. Becoming a member of a study group helps to keep you on-task. Preparation for a comprehensive examination is a lengthy process, typically covering at least an entire semester, so it is beneficial to have a partner or group to help you stay on track.
  3. Creating a timeline or breakdown of your study strategy for the semester preceding your comprehensive examination. Breaking down course content (see the 15 knowledge domains listed above) into several weeklong sections allows you to achieve more manageable goals, making the task seem less daunting. This timeline will also allow you to assess whether or not your schedule and course-load will allow for the preparation needed to pass the exam.

Documents Required for Comprehensive Exam Signup