You should plan to take your comprehensive exam in your final semester in the MA program. Department policy is to require at least 21 credits, including all required courses, to be completed before. We recommend that you start studying the previous semester, reviewing your class notes, the exam guides in your concentration (see below) and the posted readings (below as well). Please note that Brooklyn College allows the exam to be re-taken only once.
Registration: Early in the semester that you hope to take the exam, please notify your Chair that you plan to take the exam, and then apply through the college website (the college bulletin lists the specific stated deadline).
1. Sign in to the WebCentral Portal at https://portal.brooklyn.edu
2. Select the “eServices” tab and then look for the “Student Transactions” channel
3. Select the “Apply for a comprehensive exam” item in the Graduate Studies section
If you have completed all your coursework and plan just to take the exam, you should register for POL 7930, the 1-credit research tutorial, since the college requires all students to be registered in their graduating semester.
If you miss the deadline for registration, contact your Chair or the Graduate Studies Office at 718-951-5252 or in 3238 Boylan Hall or the Graduate Deputy.
The exams are one-week take-home exams. The questions are sent out one week before the scheduled exam date are are due by on the exam date. Each essay should be approximately five pages, double-spaced. Outside research and references are not required, but theories, concepts, and examples from your coursework should be used.
International affairs Concentration: the IA Exam consists of four questions:. two from the field of International Relations and two from Comparative Politics. Students answer one question from each field
Poltical Science Concentration: Students in the Political Science concentration answer two questions. One question is from your area of specialization (American politics, political theory, international, or comparative). The other can be from any of the other three fields. If you have two specializations, you can answer one from each, or one from one of them and the other from either of the two other fields.
In order to prepare for the exam, we suggest that you do the following:
1. Collect, organize, and review all of your syllabi, notes, and exams from the courses that you took. Faculty spend a lot of time creating syllabi, selecting the most important texts, and organizing them to reflect the central questions of the field.
2. Borrow from the Political Science Department, in 3413 James, the textbooks which provide an overview of essential concepts and theories. The books are located on the front desk and can be checked out for two hours at a time, or longer with permission.
3. Review the principal readings from your courses as well as the texts suggested below.
4. Use the study guides below to create your own study guide that summarizes the main arguments, authors, and theories of the field.
5. Attend one or both study sessions. There will be two study sessions. Depending on which questions you plan to answer, you should plan to attend one or both of them.
For the comparative and international relations questions, Prof Ungar will hold a practice session on October 23 from 4:00 to 5:30 in the Political Science Lounge (3414 James). The first 45 minutes will be an overview of the main themes in International and Comparative politics, followed by 45 minutes for individual counseling. If you cannot make it to that session but would like to meet, Prof. Ungar can arrange to set up another time for you.
For the American politics and theory questions, Prof. Robin and Prof. Law will hold a study session on October 17th, from 4:30 – 6:00 in the Political Science Lounge (3414 James).
Points for Writing Passing Exams
1. The essay must answer the question asked. Focusing your analysis on related topics, even if well-presented, is not acceptable. If the reader cannot tell which question you are answering, then you have not answered the question.(If you write on a related topic, you have not answered the question, and thus have not written a passing answer.)
2. Each essay must have an ARGUMENT, which is clearly stated in the first paragraph. This statement should convey what claim you defend in the essay/the position you take in the scholarly debate. (If you do not have an argument, you cannot answer the question, and thus have not written a passing answer).
3. Each essay must be clearly structured, beginning with a statement summarizing the response to the questions, and followed by clear and specific points to support that response. It should be clear to the reader how each paragraph supports the main argument.
4. The essay should provide specific examples for each point made. For example, an essay analyzing three causes of armed conflict should mention one specific example for each cause discussed.
5. Each essay must cite at least three scholars in the field. You should select scholars whose work is appropriate to the question asked, and your characterization of their argument must be correct.
6. Each essay must be clearly-written and be free of grammatical errors.
7. All sources must be cited following Chicago or APA structure. Quotes, figures, and theories are among the sources that require citations.
Here are study guides for each of the four fields. Each has three sections: questions areas, practice questions, and readings lists. Some readings listed in the guides are posted below.
Some international relations readings:
Some comparative politics readings:
- Duverger Number of parties
- Stepan and Skach 1993 Presidentialism vs Parliamentarianism
- The Political Feminization of Labor
- Social Policy in Developing Countries
- Globalization and Poverty: How Can Global Value Chain Research Inform the Debate?
- The Globalization of Capitals Flows- Who Benefits
- Standing. Global Feminization Through Flexible Labor
- The Institutional Origins of Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa
- What Strategies are Viable for Developing Countries Today?
- Globalization in Historical Perspective
- The Underdevelopment of Development
- Modernization Theory and the Comparative Study of Societies–A Critical Perspective
- War, Markets and the Reconfiguration of West Africa’s Weak States
- Peace Building and State-Building in Afghanistan–Constructing Sovereignty for Whose Security
- War Making and State Making As Organized Crime
- Studying the State through State Formation
- Structure and Example in Modular Political Phenomena
- The 2011 Uprisings in the Arab Middle East–Political Change and Geopolitical Implications
- Toward a Fourth Generation of Revolutionary Theory
- After Egypt–The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab State
- The Paradoxical Nature of State Making– The Violent Creation of Order
- Personal Networks and Postrevolutionary State Building–Soviet Russia Reexamined
- The Social Foundations of Institutional Order–Reconsidering War and the Resource Curse in Third World State Building
- The Absence of Middle Eastern Great Powers–Political Backwardness in Historical Perspective