The MS may be obtained through either a Plan A (research thesis) or Plan B (nonthesis) program. The Plan A option requires a thesis based on original research conducted by the student. The Plan B option is available for students interested in professional careers who do not desire research training. The PhD degree is intended for students seeking a research or academic career. Comprehensive exams (both oral and written) are required in the doctoral program.
The Plan A option for a master's degree requires preparation of a thesis. From 6-15 semester credits of thesis research are required. The semesters during which a student registers for thesis credit should correspond as closely as possible to the semesters in which the thesis work is done and faculty supervision is provided. The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or other scholarly work. At least 2 credits of thesis research are required, but no more than 3 credits of thesis credit can be included on the Program of Study.
With committee approval, graduate credit may be transferred from accredited graduate schools, provided the minimum residency requirement (including thesis and dissertation credit) at USU is met. Transfer credit, which must not have been used for any other degree, will be shown on official USU transcripts at completion of the degree.
For the PhD degree, there is a more variable amount of required coursework, as well as a research dissertation. Compared to the MS degree, the PhD degree has a greater emphasis on theory, research methods, writing research proposals, and publishing research in peer-reviewed outlets.
Bioregional Planning is aimed at students focused on how the biophysical attributes of a region influence the human dimensions of culture and settlement and the reciprocal of this. Offered jointly with the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, the program has an interdisciplinary core of courses that provides the background for addressing complex issues in the areas of environmental analysis, planning, and policy. Employment is available in both the private and public sectors, wherever there is emphasis on large-scale planning and management.