University of Vermont

The Curriculum & Instruction Program


Oral Exam Policy

The guidelines described below apply to the M.Ed. oral examination only. There is a written component to the oral comprehensive examination.

The Department of Education has adopted the following statement of policy for the conduct of the M.Ed. Oral Examination:

The Department of Education, consistent with regulations of the UVM Graduate College, requires that students successfully complete an oral examination for the Masters of Education degree. The oral examination is a summative evaluation in which the student is expected to demonstrate breadth of knowledge in the education discipline, depth in specific areas, and the ability to integrate what has been learned through coursework. The award of the Masters of Education degree implies the attainment of concepts associated with curriculum and instructional development and the ability to relate such information to professional practice.

 When is the oral examination to be taken?

The oral examination may be scheduled at a date prior to the completion of the last course in the program. Please see your advisor to help you schedule your oral examination.

How is the oral examination committee established?

The student, in consultation with the advisor, identifies the faculty committee that will participate. Two UVM Graduate College Faculty in addition to the advisor are required. See UVM Graduate College Faculty for a listing.  Additional faculty, including those of adjunct rank, may participate. Any variation from these guidelines must be approved by Dr. Alan Tinkler, the C & I Program Coordinator. Whenever possible, committee members will be faculty who were instructors in the student's program of study for the M.Ed. degree.

What are the mechanics of scheduling the oral examination?

Once the advisor and student determine the make-up of the examining panel, it is the student's responsibility to contact the faculty involved and request that they serve. After the panel is defined, the student shall contact each faculty member to identify a time when the examination is to take place. Once this is accomplished, the student is to inform Alan Tinkler, Program Coordinator, of the date, time and location.  It is the responsibility of the student to order any media devices needed for a presentation. 

What constitutes successful completion of the oral examination?

The typical examination is one hour. Candidates are expected to elaborate perspectives from all M.Ed. courses taken in a personal, meaningful and coherent manner. They should be able to relate foundational courses (EDFS prefix) to practical concerns. Candidates should present examples of their professional work that has been influenced by graduate study. If such work is curricular, it should be based upon some conception of knowledge, the nature of the learner, and how the two are related. They should show evidence of their contemporary research knowledge base in their specialty, perhaps best demonstrated by citation of periodicals in that field. Evidence of heightened professionalism should be evident to correspond to the obligation that increased knowledge of the education discipline promises.

At an appropriate time, the advisor will excuse the candidate and the committee will discuss the performance it has just reviewed. Immediately following that deliberation, a vote will be taken to determine adequacy of responses. A majority of the UVM Graduate Faculty members on the examining committee must support the performance in order to constitute a "pass" report for transmittal to the UVM Graduate College. The candidate will be informed of the committee's decision at the time of examination. The advisor and student then have paperwork to complete for The Graduate College and the student must pay a Graduation Fee and complete a brief survey form at The Graduate College Office in 332 Waterman.

How does one prepare for the Oral Examination?

Candidates for the M.Ed. must provide each member of the examining committee with the following items no later than one week prior to the scheduled examination:

  1. An annotated profile of the program of studies for the degree. This means a listing of each course taken with a paragraph-length statement describing the contribution each course made to overall program objectives. The paper is not to rate the quality of instruction but rather shall indicate how the substance of the course advanced program objectives. This exam component may be distributed through electronic means.

  2. Representative work produced during courses for the M.Ed.  For example, several papers written for courses can be offered as having relevance for a curricular and/or instructional topic that the student investigated. This exam component may be distributed to committee members by electronic means.

The materials submitted in advance of the oral examination are intended to define substance for student-faculty discussion. The work selected should highlight academic efforts and include samples from the content area in which specialization is claimed. The work is intended to provide a means for judging a student's ability to reflect upon what was learned in the M.Ed. program.

What happens if the oral examination is not passed?

In the event that a candidate does not pass the oral examination, one retest is permitted. It is the responsibility of the candidate to schedule the required examination with the College of Education and Social Services. Since each program has different options for meeting the oral and written comprehensive requirements, candidates must contact the respective program chairperson or advisor regarding program policy.

What if a thesis option is chosen for the M.Ed.?

Students writing a thesis must orally defend the artifact.  Please see the UVM Catalogue for further information.

For more information, contact?

C&I Program Support


Department of Education
University of Vermont
533 Waterman Building
Burlington, Vermont 05405


Last modified September 29 2015 03:42 PM

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