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Comps prepare students for jobs in diplomacy, defense, and intelligence

Anna Akopyan, Comprehensive Exams April 2013“If you have a Master’s degree, you need to have mastery over your field of study,” says IWP president John Lenczowski.

This is why the Institute has comprehensive exams (“comps”) in addition to its rigorous classes–to ensure that each of the 58 Master’s degree recipients who crossed the stage on May 18 understand their area of study inside and out.

They also need to be able to use this information in a fast-paced professional setting.  Faculty chairman Juliana Pilon comments, “The comp exam offers students an opportunity to put in practice what they have learned about the strategic use of various tools of statecraft, both hard and soft power, in specific situations. It allows them to respond to multiple scenarios, think quickly and creatively, and be able to articulate their ideas in a persuasive manner.”

Comprehensive exams consist of an oral portion with two or more professors, as well as a three hour written portion.

“I made a 263-page study guide,” says Anna Akopyan, ’13, who is currently the Victim-Witness Liaison and a Paralegal Contractor of the Office of International Affairs, a component of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  She passed her oral exam on April 25.  

“In my oral comp, the professors asked questions about current events scenarios and long suffering intelligence issues,” says Holly Eaton, also Class of ‘13.  “We discussed issues like globalization and the changing geographic setting of conflicts, whether or not the U.S. would accept a stronger security apparatus domestically, and how to improve the relationship between the intelligence community and policy makers.”

Holly, whose career in strategic intelligence has already begun, comments, “I feel as though the oral exams were a good setting for practicing your skills at briefing and debate, which are critical in the intelligence community and in the policy world.”