The Catholic University of America

Comprehensive and Language Exams

Should this page be unable to answer your questions regarding the exams, please contact your academic advisor.

Comprehensive Exams

Based on a specially prepared reading list, the purpose of the comprehensive exam is not simply to examine students about knowledge acquired through course work, but also to provide an opportunity to study areas not treated in their courses, as well as to deepen knowledge of areas already studied, and to synthesize and interrelate areas of theological knowledge. The exams are given in the fall and spring semesters and in the summer session on dates determined by the university. The comprehensive examination may not be taken until all language requirements are satisfied. The examination will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis and will be considered as a unity. It may be repeated once in the event of failure.

Comprehensive Exam Dates 2016-2017

Comprehensive Exam Request Form

Reading lists, click HERE

Intended to be a reading list to assist the candidate in preparing for the comprehensive examination. The list should complement the work done in courses taken.


Language Exams

Requests to schedule a language exam are initiated via email to the Academic Area Director indicating that you wish to take a language exam. Your e-mail must contain the following information:

  • the degree being sought (MA, STB, STL, STD, PhD)
  • the concentration (patristics, medieval, modern, ecclesiology, spirituality, etc.)
  • the desired timeframe (dates) for taking the exam; please make requests at least two weeks in advance, since each exam is student-specific (i.e., the texts are selected in relation to a student's concentration such that the exam is appropriate to the degree being sought and expected competency in the target language needed to conduct research in their field).

The area director will then forward your request to Erin Kleiber, Assistant to the Director of Graduate Programs, for processing. Ordinarily you will receive a response within five working days about the place and time of your exam. Please remember that while most requests for a specific date can be accommodated, sometimes this is impossible. In particular, the need to prepare an exam appropriate to each student requires time.