Final Master's Oral Examination:

A final examination is required of all master's candidates. The examination is intended to test the candidate's ability to integrate and interpret material in the major and supporting fields with emphasis on the work presented in the essay. The student should be fully prepared to answer any question from members of his or her committee as it relates to all course work to go beyond description of the concepts and engage in a critical discourse to demonstrate the student's critical analysis and reflection and synthesis of all course work. FINAL ORAL EXAMINATIONS SHOULD NOT BE SCHEDULED UNTIL ALL COMMITTEE MEMBERS ARE SATISFIED WITH THE QUALITY OF THE MPP ESSAY AND THE DEFENSE HAS BEEN SCHEDULED WITH THE GRADUATE SCHOOL ( FINAL EXAMINATIONS MUST BE SCHEDULED WITH THE GRADUATE SCHOOL AT LEAST TWO WEEKS AHEAD OF TIME AFTER A FINAL PROGRAM OF STUDY HAS BEEN APPROVED BY YOUR COMMITTEE CHAIR, PROGRAM DIRECTOR  AND THE GRADUATE SCHOOL.

The student should expect the final oral to take approximately 2 hours. At the conclusion of the examination, the committee members meet in private, vote and return their examination form to the Graduate School. In the event the MPP Essay requires additional revision after the oral defense, students have two weeks to submit their revised MPP Essay to the Committee Chair and the Public Policy Graduate Program Director. Failure to submit the final revised version of the MPP Essay will result in a failed defense. 

NOTE: Final examinations are open to the public. All faculty members and fellow students are encouraged to attend. During the oral defense, candidates will be addressed by their committee members and other appropriate faculty members only. Students and members of the general public may only observe the examination. Forms for scheduling the final exam are available at the Graduate School's Survival Guide:

Failed Master's Oral Examination:
Should a student fail his or her first attempt at the final oral examination, a second, final reexamination may be held at the request of the student's program/department. A waiting period of three months between the first examination and the final examination is required to allow the student time to prepare for a successful defense.

General Guidelines for the Final Oral Defense:
If you have any questions, please contact the MPP Director.


  1. Call to Order
  2. Introductions
  3. Purpose and Format of the Meeting
  4. Public Presentation (approximately 20-30 minutes)
  5. Open Discussion (approximately 15 minutes)
  6. Visitors Asked to Leave and Committee Break (if necessary)
  7. Review and Questioning of Student - Committee (this can include both the MPP Essay and MPP coursework)
  8. Excuse Student
  9. Discussions of Performance of Student
  10. Voting on Performance of Student
  11. Invite Student to Return
  12. Announce Voting Results to Student
  13. Sign Graduate School Approval forms

Final Examination Guidelines:

  • The final defense is scheduled for 2 hours.
  • The Major Professor chairs the defense meeting.
  • All members of the committee may ask questions.
  • Interested visitors may be a part of the audience during the student's presentation of research findings. Visitors will be asked to leave while the committee deliberates.
  • After the committee has completed its questioning of the candidate, the student is invited to leave the room while the committee deliberates.
  • When the committee has reached a decision, the student is invited back to hear the committee's action. Actions available to the committee are Pass, Pass with one dissenting vote, Recess, or No Pass.
  • Students are required to submit a final electronic copy of the MPP Essay to the Graduate Program Director to be included in the Valley Library collection. 
  • Examples of former MPP Essays are available for review at this website under "Research."