Final Assessment Options
CDA students are required to complete, at a minimum, 30 hours of coursework, 300 hours of practicum work and one of the following three final assessment options:
- Master's Thesis - This is an experience in independent scholarly research which is intended to contribute to the field of community development. Click here to see examples of past theses.
- Final Project - This opportunity allows students to integrate CDA core philosophy, coursework and field experience. The student will communicate meaningfully how these three elements are related and how they have contributed to their personal and professional growth during the project's life span. Click here to see examples of past student projects.
- Comprehensive Exam - This is an in-depth writing experience intended to display the student's full understanding of the material covered by the CDA degree program and to encourage the student to think critically about this material.
Each final assessment option provides the student with a different method of expressing what they have learned and how to apply it. Each student should speak with their major advisor upon matriculation to discuss which assessment option is appropriate. Because the thesis and final project options require a great deal of preparation, a student must plan to stay in the program for four semesters; LINK students and those graduating in three semesters must choose the comprehensive exam option.
When Selecting a Final Assessment Option Consider:
- What are my future goals and which final assessment option best fits my needs?
- Students going on to more graduate work may be best suited to the thesis option.
- Students going on to work in non-profit organizations may be best suited to the final project.
- Students who plan to finish their degree in fewer than four semesters may be best suited to comprehensive exams.
- What skills do you want to focus on acquiring or polishing with your final assessment experience?
- Students who want to focus on acquiring research skills may decide the thesis is the best fit for them.
- Students who want to focus on administrative and evaluative analysis may decide the final project is the best fit for them.
- Students who want to focus on core content in their courses may decide the comprehensive exam is the best fit for them.
- How much time do I want to devote to my final assessment?
- Thesis and final projects require a much larger time commitment than the comprehensive exam.
- What sort of final product do I want to have when I leave with my degree?
- The comprehensive examination is an in-depth writing experience intended to display the student's full understanding of the material covered by the CDA degree program and is meant to encourage the student to think critically about this material. The comprehensive examination requires no academic credit, proposal or committee.
Format and Content
The exam is taken over a 72 hour period in which the student must write three essays. The essay prompts are written by the instructors of the CDA core courses. The student will be given five prompts and must choose three.
The finished exams will be evaluated by HOD faculty and will receive grades of "pass with high distinction," "pass" or "fail." Student who fail all or part of the exam my retake all or part of the exam once.
The student must officially declare exercise of the comprehensive exam option by the following dated during their final semester:
May 1 (summer graduation)
September 1 (December graduation)
January 15 (May graduation)
One weekend per semester is reserved for the comprehensive exam. All students wishing to graduate at the end of that semester must take the exam over the specified dates. The exam will be given over a weekend, one week after the middle of the term. (The exam schedulers will take care not to schedule the exam over a religious holiday or other date of importance to large groups of students.)
Upon receipt of the completed exam, a student will receive an automatic notice. The exam will be distributed to graders within two days of completion. Graders will return graded exams with comments to the graduate secretary within ten days of receipt of the exams. The graduate secretary will record the official grades and report them to the students and to the registrar's office.