Comprehensive Examination Information - Preparing for the Comp
The Comp is designed to ensure that graduating Criminal Justice masters students have achieved basic competency in their program of study. Thus, the Comp questions will tap a student's comprehension of the subject matter that constituted the heart of the program material, including the Core courses (CRJ 740—Crime and Criminal Justice; CRJ 750—Planned Change in Criminal Justice; CRJ 785—Criminal Justice Policy Analysis; and CRJ 788—Ethics, Law and Justice Policy) and basic methodological competency as acquired through the required statistics and methods courses.

Thus, preparation for the Comp requires a thorough review (and rigorous internalization of the conceptual underpinnings) of the Core Program courses and research methodology and statistics courses and concepts. The best way to prepare for the Comp is to review the syllabus and materials from the courses and make notes on the personal study guide that will be used when taking the comp. If a student no longer possesses the syllabi and materials from the Core Classes or stats/methods courses, they may be obtained from the instructors who taught them. Below is a sample question for each of these components.

CRJ 740—Crime and Criminal Justice Example Question

CRJ 750—Planned Change in Criminal Justice Example Question
Identify a criminal justice policy; in comprehensive detail, outline its major components including its target population, provisions or interventions, responsible authority, and procedures. Describe the best means of evaluating its efforts or outcomes.

CRJ 785—Criminal Justice Policy Analysis Example Question
(1) Citing the relevant sources, document extensively how the United States compares with other countries in terms of (a) pervasiveness of crime and (b) its policies (incarceration, treatment, structural interventions) toward crime.
(2) Explain the cultural-political explanations for these distinctions, drawing richly from examples of how specific policies have been formed in the US. (3) Finally, describe in detail what policy changes you would recommend in response to the realities you have described above or why these realities are defensible, if you believe they are.

CRJ 788—Ethics, Law, and Justice Policy Example Question
Describe and critically analyze a recent policy failure which displays Justice Holmes' perspective on "losing belief in beliefs."

Stats/Methods Example Question
Social Learning Theory is a criminological perspective that essentially posits that individuals engage in crime because of "definitions" favorable to crime commission. In other words, individuals living in an environment that favors crime commission, have family or peers who have pro-criminal attitudes, and/or who are exposed to and influenced by pro-criminal mass media images, will be more likely to commit crime.

Summarize the logistics of a research study that would use a systematic random sample and cross-sectional analysis of juveniles in a major city who would be studied to test the social learning theory hypothesis. Identify your sampling frame, your target population, and the unit of analysis. The study will also require you to control for other variables that could explain crime besides social learning theory, which have been posited by other criminological theories. Thus, you will need to measure certain other attributes, including an individual child's "education level", his or her "self-control", and whether he or she has "opportunity" to engage in crime.

Explain the measures you would devise for the following constructs and identify the level of measurement of each of your measures. Further, identify the dependent variables, the independent variables, and the control variables.:
"pro-criminal attitudes"
"pro-criminal associates"
"education level"
"opportunity for crime"
"engages in crime"
"pro-criminal family members"
"exposure to pro-criminal media imagery"

Finally, suppose that a statistical analysis shows that, even controlling for other factors, it turns out that youngsters in the sample who have "pro-criminal family" members and "pro-criminal" friends are more likely to engage in crime. How well does this support social learning theory? What limitations are there, if any, with this study?