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Comprehensive Exams

The ETEC program offers three different options for students’ culminating experience. Students can choose one option among MA Project, Thesis, and Comps Exam as of Winter 2008 quarter. Starting at Winter 2016, the examination will be administered online.

The following details the information about Comps exam option.


In order to take Comps exam, students must be advanced to candidacy, pass e-portfolio evaluation and defense, complete grad check, and be enrolled in ETEC 6980 in their last quarter.

1. Submit Program Plan to your advisor. [Advanced to Candidacy: Completing writing requirement, ETEC 5000, 5430, 5440 and 6430] One-two quarters before your graduation. Program Plan: Use this to plan your program and to advance to candidacy. Choose an appropriate Program Plan depending on your graduation quarter/semester and catalog year. Students, who entered the program before F20 and will be graduating by the end of F20 or later, have options either to stay on their Quarter catalog year or to change it to the Semester catalog year. You will need to fulfill the graduation requirements of the catalog year.  

Program Plan by Catalog Year
Students who were admitted to Fall 2020 or later Students who were admitted before Fall 2020 
Submit Program Plan this  (Adviser)

1) Staying on the Quarter Catalog: Submit the 1st page Program Plan (Adviser)

2) Changing to the Semester Catalog: Submit the 2nd page Program Plan (Adviser)

If you choose option 2), submit Change of Program Application form (Program Coordinator) as well. 

  • New degree name: MA in Instructional Design and Technology; Choose "Change to" and type "2020-21 Catalog"
  • Will you be completing the above program(s)?” Choose No to the question

2. After submitting your Program Plan, file for a graduation check one-two semester(s) before your graduation. [Grad Check Website] 

3. GPA B or better Q2S GPA/Unit Calculator  

4. Pass e-Portfolio evaluation and defense. [e-Portfolio Submission Form]  at least 1 or 2 semesters prior to taking the comprehensive exam (ETEC 6980). Please refer to details on the ePortfolios page. The purpose of ePortfolio Defense is to help you see the level of your understanding of key principles and theories in the field of IDT.

Here are the key details of the ePortfolio Defense:

  • Format: Closed session between each student and program faculty members
  • Duration: Each student will have a total of ten minutes to answer these questions, so be concise and direct in your responses.
  • Questions: Four questions from the program faculty, one from each of the Foundation, Design, Research, and Technology sections
  • Result: Individually communicated via email after the defense.

The courses required by the program and the ETEC 6850 Comp Prep course have been created to support your preparation for this.


5. You will be allowed to signed up for ETEC 6980 (Comprehensive exam) course if 1 through 4 requirements above are met. 

  • RP grade and Incomplete grade: In order to be allowed to take ETEC 6980, no RP or Incomplete grade in your program plan will be allowed. If there is a chance that the RP grade or Incomplete grade could be completed by the end of the semester you take ETEC 6980, a letter from the course instructor attesting that you would be able to complete the course requirement by then should be sent to the program coordinator at prior to get permission to take ETEC 6980. 

5. Complete the Exit Survey 

6. In your last semester, you are required to meet 30 semester units course requirement. 

  • You may take Comprehensive Exams twice (three times for Semester Catalog students)
  • ETEC 6850 (required for Semester Catalog students) ePortfolio and Comprehensive Exams Preparation course 
  • Dates: Visit COE Masters Office web page for dates 
  • 4 Questions and 4 hours

Sample Questions


  • Describe your technology vision in relation to your educational philosophy based on learning theories and how you would use technology to support your vision of how people learn.
  • Instructional Design and Technology has been used in various setting (K-12 schools, higher education, business, military, and health care). Select a setting of your choice. Describe a future direction of Instructional Design and Technology in the setting of your choice.
  • If you had the choice of the IT era you would live, be a part of and become a leader in the field, which one would you choose and why? Discuss highlights, challenges, vision, influential leaders, dreams, as well as disappointments, missed opportunities, and failures of the era.


Select one of the best design/development projects you have produced.

  • Describe what the project was about, whom the project was for, why you developed the project, and how the project was constructed.
  • Describe your design principles and model, rationale of media selection, learning theories, and your educational philosophy relevant to the project.
  • Describe your evaluation process and illustrate how you would revise the project.
  • Describe how the project and experience affect your professional practice.
  • Describe the ADDIE process and explain the important aspects of each stage.

A common task instructional designers are asked to do is to develop online training for various purposes. Choose one of the following training objectives and explain the instructional design process you would use to create an online training module to achieve the objective:

  1. Waxing a floor
  2. Completing an employment application.
  3. Writing lesson plans.
  4. Using Blackboard to place a syllabus online.


Select one of the best research studies you have conducted.

  • Describe the statement of problem, subjects, research questions, research methods, data collection and analysis, and results.
  • Explain why you select the research methods for the study and describe some literature that served as foundation of your study.
  • Describe limitations of the study and illustrate how you would do it differently if you would do it again.
  • Describe how the research study and experience affect your professional practice.
  • How do researchers ensure protection of human subjects in their experiments?
  • What are the differences between qualitative and quantitative research? What is action research? What are some of the reasons a researcher would choose one over the other?
  • If you were asked to research the effectiveness of a particular teaching strategy, how would you design the study?
  • Be sure to identify key stages in your research process.
  • Recalling and discussing the major works of a notable individual in the field.
  • Producing an historical overview of a particular topic such as machine aided learning.
  • Discussing a learning theory and how it has influenced or how it relates to instructional technology.
  • Discussing an Instructional Design Model and providing an example of the model in a specific development task, e.g. the ADDIE model and how it is used to develop a training program for developing a performance support system for substitute teachers.
  • Relating salient details of a particular Instructional Design process with which you have been involved.
  • Discussing major research focuses in Instructional Technology e.g. Online Learning and the No Significant
  • Difference Phenomenon.
  • Relating salient details of a particular research project with which you have been involved.
  • A discussion of a particular technology and its use in teaching and or learning, e.g. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies and their use for collaborative team projects in online classes.

Technology Skills:

  • Name three technology skills that you have mastered, identify the skills in your project(s), and describe how you applied (or will apply) the skills to your professional practice.
  • Explain your level of technology skills development and describing your method for learning new technologies.

Recommended Readings

  • Textbooks and required readings used in the IDT program Required and Elective courses