Senior Comprehensive Examinations

University Requirement

It is a requirement of the College of Arts & Sciences (COAS) that all students matriculating at the undergraduate level, from a Major Field of Study within the college, be administered and successfully complete a Senior Comprehensive Exit Examination prior to obtaining a degree in the chosen field.  Successful completion is defined as a 70% or higher mark on the examination.  The Department of Afro-American Studies is a degree granting department within the College of Arts and Sciences in which students may choose to pursue a “Major” at the undergraduate level.

The following is designed to provide Majors in the field of Afro-American Studies with guidelines on preparing for the Senior Comprehensive Exit Examination which must be taken prior to graduation.

Examination Structure

The Senior Comprehensive Exit Examination in the Department of Afro-American Studies requires the examinee/prospective graduate to respond to four questions, two of which are mandatory. One mandatory question covers the area of inquiry dealing with the first three(3) topics identified in the “Rationale & Goals”  (supra). The second mandatory question covers the area of inquiry dealing with topic number four(4) identified in the “Rationale & Goals” (supra). The examinee/ prospective graduate should expect to be conversant on the basics of the discipline as well as be able to demonstrate familiarity with the process of scientific inquiry. 

The additional two (2) questions may be chosen from a list of questions reflecting the four concentration tracks and variety of courses offered in the department. Examinees/ prospective graduates are advised to choose questions which reflect a course of learning that was pursued over the previous years of study as demonstrated by coursework taken in the department.

Exit examination is administered at a date and time as established by the College of Arts & Sciences and is generally done on a selected Saturday between the hours of 9:00AM and 1:00PM. Students have a maximum of four (4) hours to complete the examination which ends promptly four hours from starting time as established by an Examination Monitor without regard to the arrival time of the examinee.  All standard rules and penalties regarding cheating as outlined in the relevant Howard University guidelines will apply. Examinees will be provided writing paper upon which to structure their responses but are expected to bring their necessary writing apparatus.  The use of cell phones and other electronic devices are strictly prohibited during the course of the examination.  Examinees are not allowed to leave the examination venue for any reason during the examination and must surrender the examination question sheet and response sheet(s) prior to doing so. Once an examinee exits the examination venue, he/she may not return and will be considered as having completed the examination.    

Departmental grading of the  Senior Comprehensive Exit Examination will follow the standard as outlined below:

  • 91% to 100%  = A;
  • 81%  to 90% = B;
  • 71%  to 80%  = C;
  • 62% to 70% = D;
  • 61% to 0% = F.

Examination results will be available from the Office of the Administrative Assistant in the Department to the examinee in person.  Examinees who are deemed unsuccessful on the Exit Examination have the right to petition the Department Chairperson for a review of his/her score and all examinees are afforded at least one(1) but no more than two(2) opportunities to retake the examination when given but within the time frame of one academic year after the first examination was taken.     

Rationale & Goals

The Department of Afro-American Studies believes that its graduates must, at least, be able to demonstrate the following:

  1. A fundamental understanding of the “evolution of the field” and the “state of the art.”
  2. A basic understanding of the distinguishing socio-historical periods and the distinguishing features of each of those periods in the experience of African-Americans.
  3. A clear familiarity with the major writers, dominant personalities, contemporary literature, ideologies and sociological discourses of Afro-America.
  4. A demonstrated ability to conduct a scientific inquiry of a quantitative and qualitative nature on subject matters of Afro-America and the African Diaspora.  

To this end, the Senior Comprehensive Exit Examination is structured to gauge the prospective graduate’s mastery of the above.