Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive Exams are taken in May or November.


  • End of your first semester: Make initial selection of 10 topics on which recording list will be based.
  • First semester, second year: Circulate rought sketch of reading list to committee for input.  It will have 10 sections: 5 topics related to your specific area of research; 5 general topics related to the techniques of the discipline and current research trends as exemplified in the literature.  Topics may include, among others:
    • Acoustics
    • Audio Quality Evaluation
    • Audio Signal Processing
    • Behavioral Statistics
    • Electroacoustic Measurement
    • Human Factors in Audio Devices and Applications
    • Microphone Techniques
    • Multichannel Loudspeaker Reproduction
    • Production Techniques
    • Psychoacoustics
    • Technical Listening Skills
  • Semester before comprehensives: 
    • Notify [at] (Graduate Studies) of your intent to take the exams next semester by:
      • May 1 for November exams
      • November 1 for May exams
    • Finalize reading list and obtain committee member approval (with copy to [at] (Graduate Studies)) by:
      • May 1 for November exams
      • November 1 for May exams

Written Exams

Exam 1. General Topics: Four hours, Day 1

  • Answer three of five diverse questions based upon your selected General Topics. 

Exam 2. General Topics: Three hours, Day 2

  • Answer three of five questions based upon your selected Specific Topics. 

Oral Exam

  • When: The week following the written examination
  • Duration: Two to three hours
  • Scope: Opportunity to elaborate, correct and enhance essay answers through committee questions.


Begin preparing as early as possible. Preparation should include:

  • Weekly meetings with supervisors
  • Analyzing and responding to sound recording problems
  • Preparing mock presentations
  • Defending mock questions


  • Three full-time staff members from Sound Recording and/or the student's area of specialization
  • One member from a different area within the Department
  • The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in Music, or an appointed representative, severs as Chair.



Keys to Success"...[the] most exciting part is see[ing] research topics you thought you knew in more depth and consistently searching for intriguing to your colleagues and learn from their experiences."
-Jonathan Hong, Ph.D. student