Graduation Options

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Every student will be required to select one of the following three degree options. The selection of the graduation degree option must be done by the beginning of finals week of your second term.

More information about these three options can be found in the Department Manual

  • Comprehensive Exam Option
  • Thesis Option
  • Independent Study

Comprehensive Exam Option

The comprehensive examination will consist of 120 objective questions that will cover all required courses in the graduate curriculum and will emphasize integration of the content areas.  The total pass rate is 70%.  Students will be given 3 hours to complete the comprehensive examination.  Until use of a secure test site is obtained, all examinations will be taken by Opscan. 

In their first attempt, students will be given 3 opportunities to pass the comprehensive examination.   The first opportunity will occur in late February/early March (during the first external placement).  If a 70% pass rate is not achieved, the student will be required to come back in 4 weeks for his/her second attempt (late March/early April).   If a 70% pass rate is achieved, the student passes.  If a 70% pass rate is not achieved, the student will be required to return in 3-4 weeks for his/her third, and last attempt. To insure ample time to submit names to the graduate college, the 3rd attempt (if needed) will take place at least one full week prior to April 30 (graduate college deadline).  These times and timespans were decided upon to assure that any student needing to retake comps would 1) be able to have 3 attempts prior to the graduate college’s deadline for name submission for graduation (4/30), and 2) have adequate preparation for successfully passing comps on his/her next attempt. If a student does not pass the comprehensive exam in the first three attempts, then they will be allowed three opportunities to pass in each subsequent semester until they achieve a pass rate of 70%.

A test bank will be prepared by graduate faculty members, course instructors, and/or clinical supervisors and will consist of three times the number of questions used in any one exam. Each comprehensive examination package will be a subset of these questions.

Thesis Option

Students who chose to complete a Master’s Thesis are encouraged to begin the process as early as possible in their educational program.  Students are directed to follow the specific guidelines provided by the Graduate School on the Thesis process.

Thesis registration is comprised of a total of 6 hours of CSD 499. Students should register for this during the terms of active work on the thesis. A grade of DE (deferred) will be given until the final product is complete and graded. Contact the Graduate School for thesis assistance and procedures.

Independent Study

Independent study consists of a 2 hour registration of CSD 400, typically in the final term of on campus coursework. Graduate students who select the independent study option must follow these guidelines in order to complete the Independent Study portion of the requirements:

The Timeline

  • By the beginning of finals week of the student's first fall term as a graduate student, she/he must complete the Independent Study Request Form and Timeline Contract.
  • Prior to submitting the forms, the student must have selected an independent study first reader, a topic, and a second reader. The first reader must be a member of the graduate faculty. The second reader will be selected in consultation with the first reader and can be a member of the graduate faculty or a member of the clinical teaching faculty.
  • The student should begin work on the independent study in the student’s first spring term.
  • The student must register for CSD 400 during his or her second fall term. If a student decides he or she can no longer can complete the independent study option once he or she has enrolled in CSD 400, the student must drop the course before midterm in order to receive a WX.
  • After midterm, standard University grading policies will be followed.
  • The document to be graded will be submitted to the first reader no later than three weeks before the first day of the final exam week of the student’s second fall term. 
  • The student, the first reader, and the second reader will decide the appropriate format for a 15-minute presentation of the project, and notify the department when and where the presentation will take place.
  • After this document has been reviewed and graded by the first reader and the second reader, it will be returned to the student, no later than one week before the first day of the final exam week of the student’s second fall term.
  • Revisions may be required for the final document, but these revisions will not be taken into account for the purpose of assigning a grade. The project will not be considered complete, however, until required revisions are made and approved by the first reader and until the cover sheet is signed by the first reader, the second reader, the Department Chairperson, and the student.
  • One electronic final copy of the final document in pdf form will be due to the ISU ReD (Research and eData) online repository and a hard copy of the signed cover sheet is also due to the CSD department office no later than the first day of finals week.To submit to ISUReD, the student should email a copy of the final document, the signed cover page, and a signed copy of the ISUReD submission agreement form (http://library.illinoisstate.edu/library-materials/ir/ ) to ISUReD@ilstu.edu. In the email, the student should indicate this is a graduate independent study.
  • Each student must generate her/his own independent study topic and her/his own written document.

Types of Projects

Data-Based Research

  • This project must involve the collection, analysis, and discussion of data.

    The following minimal standards apply:

    • The written document must be at least 20 pages in length and written in APA style.
    • The review of the relevant research must be based on at least 10 primary sources.
    • The paper should include the following sections, each developed in appropriate detail:
      • Introduction and Review of the Literature
      • Method
      • Results
      • Discussion, Summary, and Conclusions

    It should be noted that "data-based" is a broad concept. This kind of project might be generated from group data, but it could also be a single-subject design study, or it could be a qualitative investigation.

Case Study/Evidence-Based Practice Option

    The following minimal standards apply:

    • The written document must be at least 25 pages in length.

    Those students choosing to complete a case-study/evidence-based project should expect to develop a thorough document that will describe case management using a review of high-quality research articles to define the evidence base for a particular clinical approach/practice.

    • This review must be based on a minimum of 10 primary sources.
    • The case study must include, at a minimum, the following:
      • A detailed description of the client.
      • A detailed explanation for why this client was selected. For example, does the client have a rare condition? Is this client unique in some way? Might this client's therapy experiences contribute in some significant way to our knowledge about his/her disorder or about the intervention strategy used?
      • A detailed description of the management program, including rationale for the strategy or strategies employed (evidenced-based)
      • Post-management data and a detailed description of outcomes, especially as they might impact clinical knowledge.  Comparison of outcomes with the established evidenced based should be included.

     

Clinical Resource Project –The length of your project may vary from the minimal standards listed and will be determined by the topic, and a discussion between you and your first/second readers.  Clinical resource projects must be original work.

    Media Project

    The following minimal standards apply:

    • The written document must be at least 25 pages in length.
    • The review of the relevant literature must be based on at least 10 primary sources.
    • The written document must include a detailed rationale for the project.
    • The student must provide a complete script or a detailed story board.

    In-Service Presentation

    The following minimal standards apply:

    • The written document must be at least 25 pages in length, excluding audio-visual printouts.
    • The review of the relevant literature must be based on at least 10 primary sources.
    • The written document must include a justification for the in-service, and it must include the presentation notes.
    • The student should develop the materials that would be used during the in-service, including audio-visuals, handouts, and descriptions of interactive learning experiences. Although these materials will almost certainly include information from other sources, they should be original presentations with appropriate acknowledgements.
    • The student should also develop a reference list that would be distributed during the in-service. This list should include at least 20 sources. The 10 primary sources used in the literature review may be counted among the 20.

    Materials

    The following minimal standards apply:

    • Materials must be innovative and must be created by the student. A collection of previously developed materials is not acceptable.
    • The written document must be at least 25 pages in length. The materials developed will not be counted among the 25 pages.
    • The review of the relevant literature must be based on at least 10 primary sources.
    • The written document must include a rationale for the project, a detailed description of the materials developed, detailed instructions for how these materials should be used, and a discussion of the potential benefits that might be derived from use of the materials.

    Resource Manual

    The following minimal standards apply:

    • The written document must be at least 40 pages in length of original work.
    • The review of the relevant literature must be based on at least 10 primary sources.
    • The written document must include a rationale for the project, a description of the intended audience, an explanation of how the resource manual should be used, and a discussion of the potential benefits that might be derived from use of the manual.

Other Projects

The student might envision a project that does not fit into the categories identified in this document. If the student completes such a project, it must meet the minimal standards for all projects (discussed earlier in this document), and it must meet the spirit of the minimal standards listed for the categories that have been identified in this document. The independent study first reader, in consultation with the department chairperson, will decide the specific standards such a project must meet.