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Programs of Study and Degree Requirements

Content and Rigor Link to section

All graduate students should work with their departments to make sure that they have a program of study in order to ensure that degree requirements are being met in the order and at the pace intended by the program. For master’s students, the program should contain the standard credit hours required by the degree program, generally 30 or 32 credits. A PhD program of study must be 90 credits. The department should keep a copy of the program of study on file and submit it to the GEPA office at the appropriate time.

All courses being applied to a graduate program of study must contain content, rigor, and requirements that clearly demonstrate an advanced level.

  • Advanced content is defined as content that is clearly dependent on prior introductory knowledge in the discipline.
  • Advanced rigor is defined as the expectation of a high level of critical thinking and reasoning, attention to detail, independent conception and completion of work, and ability to articulate and synthesize salient issues in the field orally and in writing.
  • Advanced requirements are those in which the student is required to demonstrate mastery of the content depicted above with the rigor depicted above. If the current course requirements do not meet this standard, either the requirements can be modified or additional or different requirements can be added for graduate students.

Undergraduate Course Policy Link to section

Sometimes graduate students would like to take a course that provides them with introductory material to assist them with their current program of study in graduate school.

In general, graduate students are not permitted to enroll in undergraduate level courses for credit, as part of their graduate program. These courses do not count toward the credits required for graduate degrees and should not be included on the program of study submitted to the graduate school.

Students wishing to take undergraduate-level coursework to complement their graduate education are able to audit undergraduate courses with the approval of the faculty member teaching the course. Please refer to the audit policy for additional details regarding registration and fees, which are generally not covered by student’s tuition waiver. 

When appropriate, departments may cross list undergraduate courses at a 400 or 500 level, ensuring that they meet the requirements of advanced content, rigor, and requirements. In these cases, graduate students must register for the correct section and complete the appropriate level of work in order to receive credit toward their program of study. In the event that a course is not cross-listed but the instructor is willing to make appropriate accommodations to ensure the course requirements are advanced in content, rigor, and requirements, the department must certify the advanced nature of the course on the program of study.

Credit Requirements Link to section

All PhD programs require the completion of 90 credit hours. Master’s programs may vary in their credit requirements but must be a minimum of 30 credits. Please consult your department handbook for specific course and credit requirements that have been determined by your academic program. Note that any applicable tuition scholarship covers the required number of credits for a program. Any credit hours taken beyond the required amount must be paid for by the student. Once coursework has been completed, a student must stay continuously enrolled by registering for relevant placeholders and paying appropriate fees. Please consult your graduate coordinator for advice on what placeholder to register for.

Committees Link to section

Master’s final thesis exams, PhD qualifying exams, and PhD final defense must be presided over by an appropriate committee. For appropriate committee composition, please see the guidance found in the PhD Committee Matrix and the University Graduate Studies Regulations. Arts, Sciences & Engineering adheres to the same guidelines for final exams for both PhD and master’s programs.

There are a select number of nonstandard faculty members who have been approved by the AS&E Dean of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs and the University Dean of Graduate Studies to serve as inside committee members on exams. For a complete list of preapproved faculty, please refer to the Faculty Approved to Serve on Committees list. These faculty members are not preapproved to serve as outside committee members—only as an inside committee member of the department that is noted on the list.

Committee members who do not meet the above requirements may be petitioned through the AS&E GEPA office. In order to request permission for a nonstandard member to serve on an exam, the petition for a nonstandard member form and the person’s CV must be sent to GEPA for review and approval. Authorization must be obtained before the thesis or dissertation is registered with the University Graduate Studies Office. Please consult your department for specific timelines.

For additional information on committees, please review the University Graduate Studies Regulations.

Commencement Link to section

The University commencement ceremony happens annually, in May. All graduate students who are eligible to attend commencement will be invited by the University. Questions regarding commencement and graduation ceremonies can be directed towards to the GEPA office.

Eligibility for Doctoral Commencement Link to section

PhD students are eligible to participate in the doctoral commencement ceremony provided they have completed all of their degree requirements, final defense, and completion steps outlined by the University dean of graduate studies by the appropriate deadline. Please review the AS&E GEPA calendar for specific deadlines. Students who will finish after the deadline for a May degree will not be able to participate in a commencement ceremony until the following May.