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 varies in total credits required but includes as a minimum 30 credits of appropriate graduate study. Please refer to descriptions of individual programs for required credit totals, 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.

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.

Master's Capstone Requirement

Each master’s degree program at the University concludes with a required comprehensive exam, thesis based on independent research, or a culminating special project that may involve field work or otherwise assess the comprehensive integration of study across the discipline in the program. The special and/or field project may include and be evidenced via participation in a research seminar, but in all cases shall require demonstration of integrative expertise in the academic field of specialization. Determination of successful completion of the master’s capstone requirement rests with the faculty of the academic program and shall be governed by program procedural requirements.

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.

General regulations governing the preparation and submission of a master's thesis follow. Detailed submittal procedures and the Subject Approval Form required preliminary to registration and work on a thesis or in a research course requiring the writing of a thesis are available via The Graduate School website. 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.

Master's 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 The Graduate School for final approval.

Unless there is some reason to suggest reconsideration, The Graduate School files one copy of the approval in the student's record and transmits copies to the advisor/department and the student.

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 699 thesis course listing such as Ant 699, Tap 699, His 699, etc. The student registers in the research course or thesis course for an appropriate number of credits approved by the faculty for the project. Should work on a thesis continue beyond the term or terms wherein the approved credits have been registered for, subsequent registration may be in a thesis research continuation course 699C for one credit per term.

The thesis should be prepared in the style appropriate to the discipline (e.g. APA, MLA, Turabian) and formatted as specified in the submittal guidelines from The Graduate School website.

Upon approval by the faculty of the final copy, the student shall submit the thesis to The Graduate School in digital format via the University's digital submission website for final acceptance by the Dean on behalf of the Graduate Academic Council.  Additionally, the student or department must submit a completed and signed thesis approval form directly to The Graduate School.

Unless the thesis is unacceptable to The Graduate School (in which case the staff 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's Office transmits the thesis to UMI/Proquest for publication purposes.

Theses which have been approved should be transmitted to the Dean of The Graduate School by the last day of Winter session courses for degrees to be conferred in January, 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.