Graduate Degree Requirements
Each graduate student must be aware of degree requirements and must work with his or her major professor, supervisory committee, and department head to meet the requirements and specific deadlines.
When a student is accepted to a master's degree program, the department head appoints a temporary advisor, who may become the student's major professor. In most master's degree programs, a supervisory committee will be established for each student. During the first semester following matriculation, the student should meet with the department head to discuss the appointment of a supervisory committee. A completed Supervisory Committee form should be submitted by the department head to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies for final approval by the end of the student's first semester. Committee changes are not to be made during the six weeks prior to the final defense.
A master's degree supervisory committee must include at least three faculty members who are approved by the department head and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies. At least one member must represent the student's area of specialization, and at least one must be from outside the specialization area. Adjunct faculty can be members with the approval of the dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees.
Within School of Graduate Studies and departmental requirements, the supervisory committee determines the courses for the student's Program of Study; conducts departmental qualifying examinations (if required); supervises the student's thesis research, Plan B paper, or project; and conducts the defense or final examination. The defense or final examination must be scheduled through the School of Graduate Studies. The major professor, who serves as the chairperson of the committee, usually directs the thesis, paper, or other degree project.
The original Program of Study form with signature in ink should be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies by the student before the end of the second semester following matriculation. Amendments to the Program of Study form can be made with an e-mail from the major professor to Joan Rudd email@example.com with copies (in the cc:field) to all committees members. Submission of a new Program of Study is not necessary.
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 thesis for a Plan A master's degree is to be a contribution to the field of knowledge based on the student's own research or a treatment and presentation of known subject matter from a new point of view. The student and major professor should decide upon a problem or subject for the thesis study by the end of the student's first semester of graduate study.
A Thesis Proposal cover page, signed by the entire committee, should be submitted by the student to the School of Graduate Studies prior to the final defense. The student and all committee members are required to sign a Data and Copyright form and a Plans for Publication form. The forms are given to the student at his or her final defense and must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies prior to degree completion.
The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or a creative work of art. 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. The Plan B paper is usually a review of literature, with conclusions drawn after conceptualizing an area of inquiry, planning a systematic search, and analyzing and critiquing the acquired information. The summary and conclusions developed should enhance knowledge in the discipline. Plan B papers and reports should follow the same format specifications as theses and dissertations and are expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards, even though they may be less intensive and not demand the originality of a Plan A thesis. Plan B papers are defended, but are not reviewed by the School of Graduate Studies assistant dean or signed by the graduate dean. Plan B papers must be submitted to the Merrill-Cazier Library, and the binding receipt must be returned to the School of Graduate Studies.
A master's degree option with no thesis or Plan B paper is available in some programs. A departmentally approved program that includes a culminating creative or integrative experience must be filed in the Graduate Studies. Generally, a course or seminar on research methods is required, but thesis credits are not accepted. Plan C students should contact their department early in their final semester to be certain that all degree requirements, including completion of graduation forms, will be met, and that all appropriate paperwork has been sent to the School of Graduate Studies.
Master of Arts
Many departments have foreign language requirements for the Master of Arts degree. Candidates for the Master of Arts degree should ascertain from their major department what, if any, the foreign language requirements are for the degree they seek, and how the requirements may be satisfied. Department heads send verification, if any, to the School of Graduate Studies.
The minimum requirement for a master's degree is 30 semester credits, except for a Plan C degree for which the minimum is 33 semester credits. For the MEd degree, the minimum number of semester credits is 36. The Master of Fine Arts is regarded as a terminal degree and requires a minimum of 60 semester credits.
Post-Master's Professional Degrees
Three degrees—the Civil Engineer (CE), the Master of Computer Science (MCS), and the Educational Specialist (EdS)—are designed for students who seek to improve their professional skills and knowledge beyond the master's degree. The minimum requirement for each of these degrees is 30 semester credits beyond the master's degree (60 credits beyond a bachelor's degree). Each degree requires a project report that is prepared to the same format specifications as a thesis, but is not reviewed by the School of Graduate Studies assistantdean or signed by the graduate dean.
When a doctoral student is admitted, the department head appoints a temporary advisor to work with the student until a supervisory committee is established. A Supervisory Committee form must be submitted to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies for approval by the end of the student's second semester following matriculation. Committee changes are not to be made during the six weeks prior to the final defense.
A doctoral supervisory committee must include at least five faculty members with doctoral degrees who are approved by the department head and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Three members must be from within and at least one must be from outside the department or interdepartmental degree-granting program in which the student is matriculated. Adjunct faculty can serve on doctoral committees with the approval of the dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees.
The supervisory committee specifies the student's Program of Study; supervises the student's qualifying examination (if there is one) and comprehensive examination, unless some other departmental or program procedure is in place; approves the dissertation proposal and supervises the student's research and preparation of the dissertation; and conducts the final oral examination. The major professor is the chairperson of the committee and usually directs the student's research. Continuation in a doctoral program is contingent upon the availability of a major professor.
By the end of the third semester, the student should have submitted a Program of Study to the School of Graduate Studies. Amendments to the Program of Study form can be made with an e-mail from the major professor to Joan Rudd firstname.lastname@example.org with copies (in the cc: field) to all committee members. Submission of a new Program of Study is not necessary.
The student and all committee members are required to sign a Data and Copyright form and a Plans for Publication form. The forms are given to the student at his or her final defense and must be submitted by the student to the School of Graduate Studies prior to degree completion.
Some departments or interdepartmental programs administer qualifying examinations. Each department or program has the responsibility of administering comprehensive examinations.
Following completion of all or most courses, successful completion of comprehensive examinations, and approval of a proposal for dissertation research, and at least three months before the final defense, the student must submit an Application for Candidacy form to the School of Graduate Studies, along with a copy of the dissertation proposal cover page, signed by all members of the supervisory committee. Submission of the candidacy form is a major step in the student's program, because the committee and department head thereby attest that the student is ready to conduct independent dissertation research, although successful completion of that requirement is not guaranteed.
Doctoral Residency Requirements
The purpose of the residency requirement is to ensure that the doctoral student experience includes at least one period of concentrated attention to study, research, and interaction with faculty. This period of immersion in the culture of students' departments is an important part of their preparation for future work in academic communities. The residency requirement for doctoral studies (PhD, EdD, and professional doctoral degrees) consists of the following:
Credits for residency
At least 33 USU semester credits from an approved Program of Study are required for doctoral students. The balance of credits may be from USU or from other institutions, subject to transfer credit limits and the approval of the student's supervisory committee.
Participation in the academic community
Meeting the residency requirement also means that doctoral students must take part in the academic community of their program. Participation could include collaborative scholarship with faculty or peers, working as a research assistant or graduate instructor, attending professional meetings, being involved with student or professional organizations, and participating in colloquia, orientation programs, etc. This participation may or may not coincide with the period of concentrated study. Departments have the responsibility to determine appropriate ways for their doctoral students to participate in the academic life of their field and to provide opportunities for this participation.
Certification of residency
Residency is certified by the graduate supervisory committee. The required credits and the student's participation in the academic and intellectual life of the program are noted as acceptable by signatures on the application for candidacy form.
Each degree program may set more intense requirements for residency. Students should review college, departmental, and program requirements.
The following are suggested criteria for determining when a student has met the residency requirement. They should be checked and dated as completed and noted in the Degree Candidacy form.
- Has been directly engaged in research or creative endeavors with the major professor
- Has had access to the required equipment and resources needed for the research or creative efforts;
- Has been immersed in the culture or atmosphere of graduate education;
- Has been engaged in the professional activities of the discipline; and
- Has had the time to concentrate and complete the research or creative activity in a reasonable period.
- Has been engaged in additional departmental residential requirements (please list).
- Additional departmental requirements.
The minimum requirement for a doctoral degree is 60 approved semester credits in addition to a master's degree, or 90 approved graduate semester credits with no master's degree. Coursework cannot be used for more than one degree.
A minimum of 12 dissertation credits is required for a post-master's doctorate and a minimum of 18 for a no-master's doctorate. The semesters during which a student registers for dissertation credit should correspond as closely as possible to the semesters in which the dissertation work is done and faculty supervision is provided.
Provided USU residency requirements (see specific credit requirements under each degree) will be met, a student's supervisory committee may recommend transfer of graduate credits earned at another accredited institution, including credits with earned P grades. The credits must not have been used for another degree. Only 12 semester credits may be transferred into a doctoral program at USU prior to matriculation. Credits with P grades may be transferred only with committee approval. Transfer credits cannot replace required residency credits. Transfer credits are subject to approval of the supervisory committee and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Credits more than eight years old may not be acceptable (see Time Limit section). Transfer credits will be shown on official USU transcripts upon completion of the degree. These stipulations apply to nonmatriculated credits.