5.3 Masters Requirements
General Credit Requirements
Special Requirements
Plan A: Thesis
Plan B: Professional Paper/Project
Plan C: Coursework Only
Master’s Committee
Program of Study
Comprehensive Examination
Defense of Thesis
Degree Requirements/General & Age of Courses
Special Courses
Commencement & Degree/Certificate Completion

 

A Master degree (M), Master of Art (M.A.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), Master of Fine Art (MFA), Master of Nursing (MN), and Master of Science (M.S.) are earned after completing discipline-specific coursework, and in some fields comprehensive exams, thesis and/or professional paper.

 

General Credit Requirements

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  • All master’s candidates are expected to be familiar with both The Graduate School and their specific academic college and department degree requirements.
  • The minimum credit requirement for master's degrees is thirty (30) credits; individual degree programs may require more.
  • Only those courses listed on an approved graduate Program of Study are applicable toward graduate degree credit requirements.
  • In all non-thesis programs, a minimum of thirty (30) credits (or more as determined by the department) must be for coursework and not thesis credits.
  • See Minimum Enrollment.

 

Special Requirements

  • Conversion of thesis credits to professional paper credits: If a master’s student changes from a thesis plan to a professional paper/project plan, a maximum of six (6) credits of thesis (department rubric 590) may be converted to six (6) credits of Professional Paper (department rubric 575).  Students wishing to make this change must submit a Graduate Program Change form to the Graduate School.
  • Conversion of professional paper credits to thesis credits: Professional paper credits cannot be converted to thesis credits.

 

Plan A: Thesis

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This is a research-oriented master’s degree. In other professions, the master’s is a necessary step to the doctorate.  

THESIS REQUIREMENTS — A thesis, written by the student seeking the degree and based on original research, is a requirement for all thesis (Plan A) master’s degree programs.

COMMITTEE COMPOSITION  — A master’s committee is comprised of a minimum of three (3) members who guide the thesis. A tenured or tenure-track faculty member serves as the chairperson of the student's graduate committee.  See Committee

COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION — In Plan A, a comprehensive examination and thesis defense are required. These may be combined and offered simultaneously.  

SUBMISSION OF THE FINAL THESIS — The thesis must be submitted in final form to The Graduate School by the published deadlines (no later than fourteen (14) working days before the end of the term in which graduate work is completed.)

THESIS (590) CREDITS —

  • Ten (10) thesis credits must be completed successfully for thesis plan programs. An unlimited number of 590 credits may be taken. However, only ten (10) 590 credits count toward degree requirements along with a minimum of twenty (20) content coursework credits.  

Note: A department may require more than thirty (30) credits for degree completion.

  • If a student is using faculty time or university facilities to work on their thesis, they must be registered for thesis credits.
  • 590 credits are pass/fail or N grade.
    • “N” grades may be assigned to students enrolled in specified continual or on-going courses only (for example 590 and 690 thesis courses). This grade indicates that, though students have made progress, they have not completed the course objectives successfully. These students must re-enroll in the course immediately in order to continue with the course work and complete the course objectives. The N grade does not affect the GPA.

CONVERSION OF THESIS CREDITS TO PROFESSIONAL PAPER CREDITS

ELECTRONIC THESIS/DISSERTATION (ETD) — The thesis must meet all formatting requirements set forth by the Graduate School. Final authority for approval or denial of a thesis rests with the Graduate Dean. 

See Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD)

 

Plan B: Professional Paper/Project

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For students in professional or terminal degree programs, a professional paper or project is required.

PROFESSIONAL PAPER/PROJECT (575) CREDITS —

  • A maximum of six (6) professional paper/project credits can be taken.  See department for how many can be counted toward professional paper/project degree requirements.
  • If a student is using faculty time or university facilities to work on their professional paper/project, they must be registered for 575 credits.
  • 575 credits can be graded or pass/fail.  See department requirements.

CONVERSION OF PROFESSIONAL PAPER CREDITS TO THESIS CREDITS

Plan C: Coursework Only

This option is generally for students who prefer a structured coursework format, but is not offered by all departments.  See Degree Programs.  A minimum of thirty (30) approved coursework credits is required.

Master’s Committee

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This committee advises the student on academic matters and is the examining committee for the master's comprehensive and/or thesis defense examinations.

COMMITTEE CHAIR — A tenured or tenure-track faculty member serves as the chair of the student's graduate committee and acts as a channel of communication within the degree-granting department. In the event that the student does not select a chair of their graduate committee within the first (1st) term of attendance as a master’s student, the department head will appoint a temporary advisor. This advisor will advise the student until a tenured or tenure-track faculty member is selected as the graduate committee chair.

COMMITTEE COMPOSITION — A master’s committee is composed of a minimum of three (3) members. The majority of the committee should be made up of faculty from the degree-granting department, but due to the interdisciplinary nature of many degrees, is not limited to the degree-granting department. The graduate committee chair and the department head recommend the committee composition to The Graduate School. Final approval of committee composition rests with The Graduate School. See Graduate Program of Study & Committee or Committee Revision forms.

NON-TENURE-TRACK COMMITTEE MEMBERS — Committee members not holding tenured or tenure-track faculty status at MSU must submit documentation of their qualifications, including a vita and a letter of recommendation from the student’s department head to The Graduate School.  In some cases, these committee members may act as co-chairs of a student’s committee.



CHANGES TO THE COMMITTEE — The student may make changes to their committee composition, using the Graduate Committee Revision form. Committee makeup should not be changed simply to accommodate short term scheduling issues.

COMMITTEE APPOINTMENT DEADLINE — The committee composition must be submitted to The Graduate School by the end of the student’s second (2nd) term of graduate attendance. 

See Graduate Program of Study & Committee form.

See Fees & Holds.

Program of Study

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The program of study acts as a contract between the student, the department, the college, The Graduate School, and the University.  The program of study, jointly developed by the graduate committee and the student, defines the minimum requirements for the degree. Other requirements as determined by the student's graduate committee, also may be listed. Once a course is graded, it cannot be removed from a program of study.  Courses applied toward one degree may not be used for another.  Students may take classes beyond those listed on their program of study. Other requirements as determined by the student's graduate committee, also may be listed.

PROGRAM APPROVAL —The program of study must be recommended by the student’s graduate committee chair and department head. Final approval rests with The Graduate School. 

Note: Approval comes with a fee. See Fees & Holds.

FILING DEADLINES — The program of study must be submitted on an official Graduate Program of Study & Committee form to The Graduate School by the end of the student’s second (2nd) term of graduate attendance. A one-time fee is associated with the filing and approval of this form. See Fees & Holds. See Degree Requirements/General/Other Credits.

A student must have an approved, not just submitted, Program of Study and Committee form on file with The Graduate School prior to sitting for any portion of the comprehensive exam or defense.

CHANGES TO THE PROGRAM OF STUDY — The program of study may be amended through the course of the student’s graduate study. Changes to a student’s program of study must be made through the Graduate Program Change form and recommended by the graduate committee chair and the department head. Final approval rests with The Graduate School. No fee is associated with this form.

HOLDS — See Fees & Holds.

Comprehensive Examination

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The major department may administer a comprehensive examination. The form of this examination may be either or both oral and written sections.  The purpose of this examination is to determine if the student has attained sufficient mastery of their discipline. In Plan A, a comprehensive examination and thesis defense are required. These may be combined and offered simultaneously.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all committee members are available when scheduling an exam.

Note:  Video Conferencing Policy.



PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE/CERTIFICATION — Examinations for professional licensure or certification may not be used for, or in place of, the comprehensive examination.



MINIMUM REGISTRATION  — The student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits at MSU during the term in which the examination is taken. If the student wishes to sit for the comprehensive examination during the time between terms, then the student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits in the term prior to or immediately following the time between terms.

DEADLINE — The last day to sit for the comprehensive examination is on or before the fourteenth (14th) business day prior to the end of the term the student intends to graduate.

COMMITTEE REPRESENTATION  — See Committee

GRADING — The comprehensive examination is graded with either a passing or failing grade determined by a majority vote of the student’s approved graduate committee.



REPORTING THE RESULTS — The committee and department head are responsible for submitting written notice of the results of the comprehensive examination to the student and to The Graduate School no later than five (5) business days after the examination is held or after each section is administered.  The Report on Comprehensive Exam/Thesis Defense is to be submitted to The Graduate School by the department, not the student.



ACCEPTABLE AGE — The maximum time allowed between the comprehensive examination for Plan A  students and degree completion is five (5) years.

FAILED EXAMINATION — The student is allowed two (2) total attempts to pass the comprehensive examination.  At least two (2) months must elapse before the second attempt at the examination.  Failure to pass the second (2nd) attempt results in termination of graduate study and dismissal from the academic program.  Students who are dismissed from the program due to a second (2nd) failed attempt are ineligible to reapply to the same degree program.

Defense of Thesis

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In Plan A, the thesis defense examination is required.  The student’s approved graduate committee carries out this examination.  The student should have prepared and distributed a draft of the thesis to the committee at least fourteen (14) business days prior to date of defense.

Note:  Video Conferencing Policy.



MINIMUM REGISTRATION — A student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits at MSU during the term in which the defense is held. If the student wishes to sit for the thesis defense during the time between terms, then the student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits in the term prior to or immediately following the time between terms.

DEADLINE — The last day to defend a thesis is on or before the fourteenth (14th) business day prior to the end of the term the student intends to graduate.


COMMITTEE REPRESENTATION — See Committee

INVALID DEFENSE — A thesis defense held in the absence of the chair of the student’s graduate committee will be considered invalid and the defense will have to be rescheduled.

GRADING — The thesis defense is graded with either a passing or failing grade determined by a majority vote of the student’s approved graduate committee.



REPORTING THE RESULTS — The graduate committee and department head are responsible for providing written notice of the results of the defense to the student and to The Graduate School no later than five (5) business days after the defense is held. The Report on Comprehensive Exam/Thesis Defense is to be submitted to The Graduate School by the department, not the student.



FAILED DEFENSE — The student is allowed two (2) total attempts to pass the defense. At least two (2) months must elapse before the second (2nd) attempt takes place. Failure to successfully pass the second attempt results in termination of graduate study and dismissal from the academic program. Students who are dismissed from the program due to failure to pass the defense are ineligible to reapply to the same degree program. 

See Degree Requirements/General/Age of Courses

See Special Courses

See Commencement & Degree/Certificate Completion

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