Degree Requirements for Masters Programs

The following information comes from the 2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin


It is the student's responsibility to be informed concerning all regulations and procedures required by the course of study being pursued. In no case will a regulation be waived or an exception granted because a student pleads ignorance of the regulation or asserts that information was not presented by advisors or other authorities. Therefore, the student should become familiar with the Graduate School Bulletin, including 1) the section presenting the requirements for degrees and 2) the specific program offerings and requirements. The Program Coordinator in the student's major program should be consulted concerning course requirements, any deficiencies, the planning of a program, and special regulations. Programs may have degree requirements that are not listed in the Bulletin.

Course Requirement & Transfer Credits

A minimum of thirty (30) graduate credit hours are required for any Master's degree.  Many departments require more than thirty (30) hours.  A minimum of 18 credit hours must be taken in courses numbered 600 or above.  Specific departmental requirements should be consulted for additional information. 

Continuous Enrollment

Students must be enrolled continuously (each fall and spring semester) after completing required coursework and passing the comprehensive examination through the completion of the degree program. Students must enroll as stipulated: A. Students must enroll for a minimum of one (1) hour each fall and spring semester to maintain continuous enrollment. B. Students must enroll for one hour of thesis (698) or project (699) during the semester they expect to take the comprehensive exam (Master's students) or defend and complete the Master's thesis. The final version of the document, approved by both the graduate committee and Documents Specialist, must be deposited in The Graduate School no later than the specified deadline. If a student fails to meet the deadline for submission, he/she must register for one (1) hour of thesis (698) or project (699) until graduation. C. Failure to enroll for at least one (1) hour during the fall and spring semesters will result in discontinuation from the university. A student who has been discontinued and seeks readmission must apply for readmission, pay an application fee, and remit payment for one hour of tuition, at the current tuition rate, for each fall and spring semester not enrolled.

Time Limitation

A Master's degree must be completed within five (5) academic years from the semester of initial enrollment in a Master's program. Five years is the maximum age allowed for graduate coursework toward a Master's degree.  A student must meet the requirements and adhere to the policies described in the Graduate Bulletin that is current the first semester of enrollment through the fifth (5th) year in the program. If a student's degree progress is slowed due to an extreme hardship, he/she may petition the department for a limited extension which will be reviewed by the Dean of the Graduate School. If an extension is granted, the student will become subject to the Graduate Bulletin that is current the semester the extension is granted and will be responsible for meeting any new requirements of the degree and/or departmental or university policies. Course revalidation will be required.

Major Professor

Your major professor is the committee member from your major field who serves as your primary academic advisor, your principal thesis advisor, and the general mentor for your academic program and your research.

Degree Progress Report

What is a DPR?DPR is an acronym which stands for Degree Progress Report. We also refer to it as your Advising report or SMART Sheet. They all mean the same thing. Why do I need to know what my DPR is? Your DPR shows you ALL course requirements for your major, and it lists requirements for any double majors and minors. It will show you what requirements you have completed or “Satisfied,” which one’s you’re currently working on “In Progress,” and which requirements you still need to meet “Not Satisfied.” 

Comprehensive Exam

A comprehensive examination is required of all Master's students to assess knowledge of the major field of study, and thus, must be taken after all coursework has been completed. The major department will determine whether the comprehensive exam will be written, oral, or both.  It is prepared, administered, and assessed by the student's graduate committee. If an oral examination is required, the chair of the student's committee will notify the Graduate School of the time and place of the examination. A student who fails the comprehensive examination may retake it no sooner than three (3) months after the first attempt.  A student being examined as a part of a cohort or group may repeat the comprehensive examination at the next scheduled administration if at least three (3) months have passed since the first attempt.  A student may repeat the comprehensive examination only once; failure to complete the comprehensive examination successfully on the second attempt will result in dismissal from the program.  Students must register for a minimum of one (1) credit hour the semester the comprehensive exam is taken. The Results of the Comprehensive Exam form must be submitted by the major professor/committee chair to the Graduate School immediately after completion of the exam. Note: Deadlines for Comprehensive Exams are established by the student's academic unit.

The Master's Thesis

  1. A student in a thesis-option Master's program must submit a thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree. 
  2. The thesis committee must be assembled before the thesis proposal/prospectus can be defended. Any change to the membership of this committee at any time must result in a new Graduate Committee Request Form being submitted to the Graduate School.
  3. A thesis proposal/prospectus should describe an original project that contributes new information to the field of study.  It should be defended early in the degree program and no later than one semester before the thesis defense.  The Dissertation, Nursing Capstone, & Thesis Proposal Approval form must be submitted by the major professor/committee chair immediately after the proposal defense.
  4. As appropriate, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) must approve the thesis methodology before any research begins.
  5. Guidelines and templates for the preparation of the thesis must be followed.  These documents are accessible via the Communication and Documents Specialist section of the Graduate School website.
  6. One signed original of the approved title page must be submitted to the Communication and Documents Specialist before the published deadline. If the department requires a bound copy, 2 copies of the signed title page will be required.
  7. The Communication and Documents Specialist ensures that theses meet the university requirements, including formatting and originality and will assist students in reading compliance. Students must allow ample time to make revisions.
  8. Students are responsible for meeting the thesis deadlines listed on the thesis/dissertation deadline schedule on the Graduate School website. If a student fails to submit the thesis in accordance with the published deadlines, the degree will be awarded the following semester, and the student must submit a deferment form and enroll in one (1) hour of 698 during the final semester. Deferment of graduation requires submission of a Graduation Deferment Form. 
  9. The committee chair must verify that the thesis was checked to ensure originality prior to the student's submission of the thesis to the Reviewer.
  10. Students must enroll in a thesis course (698) during the degree program.  No more than 6 hours of credit for this course may be included in the program of study, although additional hours may be taken.  Students should be enrolled in at least one (1) semester hour of 698 the semester they defend and must have met all credit hour requirements. Individual programs may develop more stringent policies.

Masters Committee

The student's work toward the Master's degree is supervised by a departmental committee comprised of the major professor/committee chair and two to three (2-3) additional graduate faculty members for thesis or project programs. For some non-thesis or non-project programs, an experienced faculty advisor may supervise the student's work. Qualified individuals from outside the department may serve on a graduate committee if the individual has specialized knowledge that enhances the committee make up and is approved by the Graduate Council and the Dean of the Graduate School. A Graduate Committee Request Form must be submitted to the Graduate School early in the student's degree program, prior to defense of proposal or the comprehensive exam, whichever comes first.  When voting on a student's performance on the qualifying exam, comprehensive exam, thesis proposal, or defense of theses/projects, a simple majority of the committee determines a pass.

Final Defense

A defense of the thesis cannot occur until after the student successfully completes the comprehensive examination.  The thesis must have been submitted by the student to the graduate committee with ample time for their review.  The oral defense will be conducted by the graduate committee and any other faculty member(s) designated by the Dean of the Graduate School.  A final seminar, if required by the department as a part of the defense, will be open to the public. The examination part of the defense will be closed to the public, but open to any member of the graduate faculty.  Members of the graduate committee only will vote on the results of the examination.  A simple majority will designate a pass.  The major professor/committee chair must submit the Results of the Oral Defense form to the Graduate School immediately following the defense. If the student fails the defense on the first attempt, he/she has one additional attempt to defend the thesis successfully.  Failure to defend the document successfully on the second attempt will result in dismissal from the program.  Following a successful defense any required revisions should be completed in a timely manner and the finalized thesis submitted to the Graduate School.