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Master's Degree Requirements

  1. Master’s Supervisory Committee
    1. Unless otherwise approved by the dean of The Graduate School, a supervisory committee consisting of three faculty members is appointed no later than the second semester of graduate work.
      1. The committee chair and the majority of the committee must be tenure-line faculty in the student’s department.
    2. If a graduate student’s preliminary work is deficient, the supervisory committee may require supplementary undergraduate courses for which no graduate credit is granted.
  2. Program of Study
    1. The Graduate School requires candidates for master’s degrees to devote a minimum of 30 credit hours to their graduate courses (i.e., courses numbered 5000 and above) and thesis or alternative to the thesis (when allowed by the department).
      1. Some departments require more than 30 hours.
      2. A minimum of 20 hours must be in course work, with the balance in 6970 thesis hours or alternative to the thesis (when allowed by the department).
      3. For thesis-based Master’s degrees, a minimum of six credits of 6970 thesis research is required by The Graduate School.
    2. All course work counted toward the degree must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee.
    3. See department for departmental requirements.
    4. Faculty Consultation, course number 6980, does not count toward thesis hours or the fulfillment of degree requirements, and should not be listed on the program of study.
    5. The candidate is required to maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA in course work listed on the Program of Study for the master’s degree.
      1. A grade below C- is not accepted by the University toward a graduate degree.
      2. Departments may have additional grade restrictions that must be maintained. These restrictions will be explained in the department’s handbook.
    6. Each master’s program requires a distinct, complete set of course work.
      1. Course work used to meet the requirements of one master’s program may not be used to meet the requirements of another.
      2. Courses taken through alternative delivery methods, e.g., via EDNET or the Internet, are approved on a programmatic basis through the Graduate Council.
  3. Residency Enrollment Requirement*
    1. At least 24 credit hours must be in resident study at the University of Utah.
    2. The Graduate Council may approve departmental or programmatic exceptions to the minimum residency requirements and proposals for new programs or academic offerings using distance learning technologies and/or off-campus sites, as provided by Graduate School policy.
    3. *Does not refer to or fulfill State Residency Requirements
  4. Approval of Program of Study
    1. One semester prior to graduation, graduate students are required to meet with their graduate advisor to check that they have met all the requirements for their degree.
    2. Once enrolled in all required coursework, the graduate advisor will move coursework from the graduate student's transcript to their program of study in the Graduate Student Summary.
    3. The student's supervisory committee members and director of graduate studies will receive an email to review the coursework.
      1. They verify the graduate student has met all degree requirements then approve the program of study with their electronic signature.  
    4. After all approvals have been submitted, the graduate student's program of study will show as complete in the Program Plan Audit page of the Graduate Student Summary.
  5. Examinations: Thesis Option
    1. Final Thesis Defense
      1. The required final examination for the M.S. or M.A. thesis option is an oral defense of the thesis.
      2. The defense date is set by the supervisory committee and is open to the public.
      3. At least three weeks before this final oral examination, the student should submit an acceptable thesis draft to the committee chair; committee members should receive copies at least two weeks before the examination date.
      4. After the oral presentation, a question and answer period must be allowed.
      5. At the conclusion of the public participation, the committee may excuse the public and conduct further questioning on the thesis and related topics.
      6. The outcome of the thesis defense is reported on the Report of the Final Oral Exam and Thesis for the Master’s Degree form.
    2. Comprehensive Examination
      1. In addition to the required thesis defense, departments may or may not require a comprehensive examination of M.S. and M.A. candidates in the thesis option.
      2. Each department establishes its own policy on the structure of the examination (i.e., written, oral, or both; conducted by supervisory committee or uniform departmental exam).
      3. The exam may be taken early in the program as a comprehensive qualifying exam, or late in the program as a final comprehensive exam separate from the thesis defense.
  6. Examinations: Non-thesis Option
    1. Alternatives to the thesis are permitted by some departments.
      1. These alternatives may consist of course work only or involve an independent project. In either case, a final exam that covers breadth and integration of material in the field is required.
      2. The examination may be written, oral, or both, and is conducted by the supervisory committee or the department.
    2. For project-oriented master’s degrees, a public oral defense of the project may serve as the final examination.
      1. At its discretion, the supervisory committee may elect to excuse the public from the defense in order to pursue additional questions related to the student’s project and field of study.
    3. The supervisory committee of the student completing a non-thesis master’s degree must sign and submit the Report of the Final Project for the Master’s Degree or the Report of the Final Examination or Certification of Completion for the non-thesis Master’s Degree form to their department, to be entered into the student’s online file: Graduate Student Summary in the Campus Information Service.
    4. All exams for non-thesis students are due during the Final Exam dates listed on the Academic Calendar.
    5. Exceptions to these rules must be approved by The Graduate School.
    6. All departmental examination policies for the M.A. and M.S. degrees must be on file with The Graduate School.
  7. Registration
    1. Thesis Candidates
      1. Must complete a minimum of six credit hours of Thesis Research (course number 6970).
      2. The student must also be regularly enrolled at the university and registered for at least one course per semester from the time of formal admission to a graduate program until all requirements for the degree, including the final oral examination (thesis defense), are completed.
    2. Non-thesis Candidates
      1. Non-thesis candidates must be registered for at least one course per semester from the time of formal admission to a graduate degree program until all requirements for the degree, including the defense of the final project, paper, or final examination, are completed.
    3. Thesis and non-thesis candidates must meet this registration requirement unless they have an official leave of absence. See Minimum Continuous Registration and Leaves of Absence.
  8. Language Requirements
    1. Candidates for the M.A. degree must be certified by the Department of World Languages & Cultures as having demonstrated “standard proficiency” in at least one foreign language.
      1. Departments may establish additional language requirements for the M.A. degree.
    2. There is no University-wide foreign-language requirement for the M.S. degree
      1. Departments may establish their own language requirement.
    3. The major department determines the foreign language in which each candidate is required to demonstrate competence.
    4. The Language Verification form for certification is available in the Department of World Languages & Cultures.
  9. Thesis Regulations
    1. The thesis must represent from 6 to 10 credit hours of the work completed for the degree.
    2. The master’s thesis is expected to be available to other scholars and to the general public.
    3. It is the responsibility of all master’s candidates to arrange for the publication of their theses.
    4. The University accepts two alternatives for complying with the publication requirements:
      1. The entire thesis is submitted to UMI Dissertation Publishing, ProQuest Information and Learning.
      2. The abstract only is published if the entire thesis has been previously published and distributed, exclusive of vanity publishing. The thesis candidate may elect to submit the entire previously published work for publication with UMI Dissertation Publishing, ProQuest Information and Learning.
    5. Regardless of the option used for meeting the publication requirement, an abstract of each thesis is published in UMI Dissertation Publishing, ProQuest Information and Learning, Dissertation Abstracts International.
    6. The format for the thesis or dissertation is in A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations.
  10. Thesis Alternatives
    1. Alternatives to the thesis are permitted in some departments.
    2. The chair of the supervisory committee will sign off on the exams on behalf of the committee in the student's Graduate Student Summary. Some departments require signed forms, please check with your department.
      1. All exams are due by the Final Exam periods listed on the Academic Calendar.
  11. Time Limit
    1. All work for the master’s degree must be completed within four consecutive calendar years.
    2. On recommendation of the student’s supervisory committee, the dean of The Graduate School can modify or waive this requirement.
    3. If the student exceeds the time limit and is not granted a modification or waiver, the department has the option to discontinue the student.
    4. Students whose studies have been interrupted for long periods of time and who have been granted extended time to complete their degrees may be required to complete additional courses, to pass examinations, or otherwise to demonstrate that they are current in their field.
    5. Petition for an extension of a Graduate student career
Last Updated: 4/5/22