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Graduate Bulletin Homepage |Site Index | Regulations and Requirements Governing the Master's Degree

Regulations and Requirements Governing the Master's Degree

Requirements given in this section are those which generally apply to all master's programs except as indicated. However, the programs of individual colleges or schools may involve additional requirements applicable only to particular programs.

Master's Degrees Conferred

Graduate programs in the arts and sciences, public health sciences, nanosciences and nanoengineering, public affairs, and education lead to the M.A., M.S., or M.F.A. degrees. Graduate programs in business lead to the M.S. or M.B.A. degrees, graduate programs in criminal justice to the M.A. degree, graduate programs in library and information science to the M.S. degree, graduate programs in public administration to the M.P.A. degree, and graduate programs in social welfare to the M.S.W. degree. Graduate programs in regional planning lead to the Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.) degree. Graduate programs in public health lead to the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree.

Credit Requirements

Each program leading to a M.A. or M.S. degree includes as a minimum 30 credits of appropriate graduate study (31 credits minimum in public affairs; 54 credits minimum in rehabilitation counseling; 54 credits in counseling; and 30-64 credits minimum for one- and two-year programs in accounting). Programs leading to professional master's degrees include the following minimum number of credits of appropriate graduate study: for the M.B.A., 43 to 63 credits, depending on previous preparation in business; for the M.S. in Information Science, 42 credits; for the M.P.A., 40 credits; for the M.S.W., 60 credits; and for the M.R.P., 48 credits; for the M.P.H., 51 credits; and for the M.S. in Health Policy and Management, 56 credits. Refer to descriptions of individual programs for required courses and distributions.

Candidacy is terminated for students who fail to meet the requirements for the degree within the minimum of credits of graduate study required for a particular degree and applied to their degree programs at this University or, for students whose required graduate programs exceed the usual minimum for the degree, within the minimum number of hours specified in the letter of admission.

Students who fail to qualify under the conditions above may take additional courses at this University for not more than 6 credits in an attempt to qualify, provided their records do not include an unsatisfactory seminar or thesis, except that students in 60-credit programs for the M.B.A. or M.S.W. may be permitted an additional nine credits in an attempt to qualify. Courses taken for this purpose must be selected by the student's advisor, and a record of the recommended courses must be filed with and approved by the dean of the appropriate school before the additional study is undertaken. Forms for this purpose may be obtained in the offices of the separate schools.

Independent study courses or work or research in absentia will not be approved for this purpose.

Residence Study

Of the minimum number of credits required for a master's degree, (1) at least 24 credits of residence graduate study must be completed at this University in each 30-48 credit master's program, and (2) at least 50 percent of the program's total credits must be completed in residence study at this University in each master's program which requires more than 48 graduate credits.

Transfer Credit

Under certain conditions and with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies, credit not to exceed 6 credits for graduate work completed at another institution may be accepted and applied to a 30-credit program. Between 7 and 24 credits for graduate work completed at another institution may be accepted and applied to master's programs requiring 31-48 credits (with the proviso above that at least 24 of the required 31-48 credits be completed in residence study at the University). For those graduate programs requiring 48 credits, up to 50 percent of a program's total credit requirements may be satisfied by the application of appropriate transfer credit. Courses presented for transfer study must be graduate courses, applicable to a graduate degree at the institution offering them, and completed with a grade of B or better at an accredited institution authorized to grant graduate degrees.

Requirements for the satisfactory completion of research seminars, theses, field courses, clinical courses, student teaching, internships and practicums may not be satisfied by courses taken at other institutions, and they are not eligible for transfer credit for these purposes.

Under regulations similar to those governing transfer credit earned in graduate courses, a maximum of 6 graduate credits earned in the College Proficiency Examinations administered by the New York State Education Department may be accepted for transfer credit into master's degree programs upon the approval (1) of the department or school in which the student is enrolled, and (2) by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Credit accepted for College Proficiency Examinations is part of the total credit accepted as transfer credit in a program and the total transfer credit may not exceed the limits stated above.

Full-time Study in Residence

Although full-time study is recommended, it is not a general requirement for a master's degree, and many programs can be completed through part-time study. However, certain programs may have full-time study requirements. Refer to descriptions of individual programs for this information.

Field of Specialization

Most programs call for a minimum of 18 credits in the field of specialization. Some schools and departments require more. Also, the nature of the student's undergraduate preparation or special licensing or other professional requirements may make it necessary in some cases to require more credits in the special field than university, school, or departmental minimums.

Research Tool Requirement

A reading knowledge of a foreign language or competence in another appropriate research tool is required in many but not all of the general sequences in the arts and sciences.

Regulations and procedures governing the satisfaction of foreign language and other research tool requirements in all graduate degree programs are given in separate sections of this bulletin.

Seminar and Thesis Requirement

Candidates for a master's degree must complete satisfactorily at this University a graduate research seminar or an acceptable thesis in their field of specialization for at least 2 credits, except for candidates in the developmental reading, rehabilitation counseling, or special education programs in education or in programs leading to the M.B.A., M.P.A., M.P.H., MSIS, or M.S.W. degrees. Candidates in those programs must satisfactorily complete at this University appropriate field courses, internships, or practicums.

Special Field Examination

Some programs require the satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination in the field of specialization.

Students must take the major field examination within one calendar year of completion of coursework in their program of studies.

Students who fail a special field examination may, on the recommendation of their advisor and with the approval of the department chair or dean, take a second examination in an attempt to qualify. The second examination may not be taken before that given in the following session and must be taken within a calendar year of the attempt to pass the examination. A student may not take a third examination to qualify.

Statute of Limitations

All requirements for a master's degree must be completed within six calendar years from the date on initial registration in the program, unless the Graduate Academic Council grants an extension of time. This provision applies equally to students who enter with or without advanced standing or transfer credit.


A thesis is the culmination of a program of advanced study leading to a master's degree and, as such, must attest to the attainment of a basic understanding of scholarly investigation and reporting in an academic or professional field.

Responsibility for the evaluation and acceptance of a thesis rests with the major department.

Regulations governing the preparation and submission of a master's thesis follow. Detailed procedures and the Subject Approval Form required preliminary to registration for work on a thesis or in a research course requiring the writing of a thesis are available in the Office of Graduate Studies. These should be obtained by the students (and advisors) at the beginning of the planning for the research and writing of a thesis.

Permission to undertake a thesis is at the direction of the student's major department.

Masters thesis research involving human subjects, animals, or biohazardous materials must be approved in advance by the applicable University compliance committee(s): Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) or an IRB, IACUC, or IBC that has been designated by the University as demonstrated by an approval letter, or written acknowledgement by the student and advisor that such research must be approved in advance by the committee(s) and that engaging in such research without such approval would constitute misconduct.

After the subject and scope of the research have been determined, students formally apply for approval of the project. The student submits the Application for Approval of Subject of Thesis for the Master’s Degree for this purpose to the advisor and upon her/his approval to Office of Graduate Studies for final approval.

Unless there is some reason to suggest a reconsideration, the Office of Graduate Studies files one copy of the approval in the student's folder and returns two copies to the advisor, one copy for the advisor's file and one to be returned to the student along with the set of directions.

Students include the research course or master's thesis course in their registered program for the session. Students in the sciences register for appropriate research courses (e.g., Atm 699, Bio 699, Chm 699T). Students in other fields register their thesis effort and credits under a standard, departmental listing such as Fre 699, Tch 699, His 699, Cll 699. The student registers in the research 'course' or thesis 'course' for an appropriate number of credits for the session in question. If the work is to be spread out over two or more sessions, the student reregisters for the same course in each of the following sessions.

The student should be guided by the directions to students for format, style, paper, margins, and general procedures in writing and submitting the thesis. Directions for the preparation of a thesis are obtained from the Office of Graduate Studies.

The student submits unbound two final copies of the thesis and two final copies of an abstract to the advisor. The copies of the thesis submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies must be in the following physical mode:
A printed original without errors or corrections, on 100 percent non-recycled cotton or rag bond paper, and a printed copy, without errors or corrections, on 25 percent non-recycled cotton or rag bond paper.

The department chair notifies the student and the Dean of Graduate Studies as to the official evaluation of the thesis.

Upon final acceptance of a thesis, the student makes a prepayment of charges to the University Library to cover the costs of binding and gives the receipt to the department chair.

Students may request permission of their department and of the Dean of Graduate Studies to arrange for publication of their thesis. In such cases the publication must state on the title page, or in the foreword, or in a footnote in the case of publication in a journal, that the publication has been presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master's degree at the University at Albany.

The department chair or dean of the college or school transmits the thesis to the Dean of Graduate Studies with a) the statement of acceptance signed by the readers, and b) a receipt from the student for the prepayment of binding charges.

Unless copies of the thesis are unacceptable to the Dean of Graduate Studies (in which case the dean notifies the student and the department), the dean authorizes the Registrar to assign the appropriate grade and credits to the student's record. Subsequently the dean transmits the thesis to the University Library for binding, distribution, and filing (ordinarily after the degree has been conferred).

Theses which have been approved should be transmitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies by May 1 for degrees to be conferred in May, by December 1 for degrees to be conferred in December, and by August 1 for degrees to be conferred in August.

Last updated on 11/5/2008