Graduate College

GPP: Graduate degree requirements

Graduate degree requirements

Determination of academic requirements

Students graduate under the degree requirements and policies in effect at the semester and year of admission to a graduate degree program. Students that fail to maintain continuous enrollment and are re-admitted to the degree program, graduate under the degree requirements and policies in effect at the time of the new admission date.

A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate-level coursework including a culminating experience is required for a master’s degree, although individual programs may have higher requirements. The culminating experience may be a comprehensive examination, a capstone course, an applied project, a portfolio, a thesis or equivalent.

Students that have a capstone course requirement must receive a grade of “B” or better. If a student fails to achieve a capstone final grade of “B” or better, they must retake the course.

A minimum of 84 credit hours of graduate-level coursework and a written comprehensive examination are required for a doctoral degree, although individual programs may have higher requirements. Additionally, the Foreign Language Examination, oral comprehensive examination and/or dissertation or equivalent may be required. A written comprehensive examination and prospectus (research proposal) is required for all programs requiring a dissertation.

The Plan of Study (iPOS)

The Plan of Study (iPOS) functions as a contract between the student, the academic unit, and the Graduate College. The iPOS contains certain degree requirements such as coursework, a committee and a culminating experience which must be included before it can be approved. The academic unit’s graduate support staff should be the primary contact regarding iPOS and degree requirements. The iPOS must be approved by a student’s committee, the head of the academic unit, and the Dean of the Graduate College.

To facilitate degree completion and shorten time to degree, graduate students with regular status must submit their iPOS by the time they have enrolled for 50 percent of the minimum credit hours required for their degree program.


Graduate-level courses are those numbered 500 or higher. All core courses required by a graduate program must be at least 500-level. A maximum of 6 credit hours of 400-level coursework can be included on an iPOS. 400-level courses taken prior to admission and 400-level courses graded as “Pass/Fail” are not acceptable. Courses with grades of “D”, “E”, or “W” and audited courses (graded as “X”) cannot be included on an iPOS. Courses applied to a previously awarded degree cannot be included on an iPOS.

Any course with a grade of Incomplete (“I”) must be completed within one calendar year of the end of the scheduled course. If a regular grade is not assigned within the calendar year, the “I” becomes permanent. The student will have to re-register for the course to receive credit. Additional information regarding incomplete grades may be found at

Graduate students may register to audit one or more courses with the approval of the supervisory committee chair and the consent of the instructor involved. An audited course does not count toward the minimum number of credits required for international students with visa restrictions, students employed as TA/RAs, or students receiving financial assistance. Courses taken for audit do not satisfy the Graduate College continuous enrollment policy. Undergraduate courses not included on the iPOS do not satisfy the Graduate College continuous enrollment policy.

Master’s degree students whose culminating experience is a thesis must include 6 (and only 6) credit hours of 599 Thesis credits on the iPOS. Doctoral students whose culminating experience is a dissertation must include 12 (and only 12) credit hours of 799 Dissertation credits on the iPOS. Thesis and Dissertation credit hours may only receive grades of “Z” (research is in progress), or “Y” (research is satisfactorily complete). Doctoral students may apply 30 credit hours of appropriate coursework from a previously awarded master’s degree toward their doctoral plan of study.


A formal request for an exception to the Graduate College policy requires a petition to be completed by the student, and approved by the committee chair and the head of the academic unit. The Graduate College will review the petition and make a final determination.

ASU pre-admission credit

Pre-Admission Credits

Credit hours completed at ASU or from another regionally accredited US institution or international institution officially recognized by that country, before the semester and year of admission to an ASU graduate degree program, are considered pre-admission credits. With the approval of the degree program and the Graduate College, students may include a maximum of 12 graduate-level credit hours with grades of “B” or better that were not used towards a previous degree. Preadmission credits must have been taken within three years of admission to the ASU degree program to be accepted.

Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s programs may use a maximum of 12 pre-admission credits which may include up to a maximum of 12 hours shared between the Bachelor’s and Master’s program. Students in accelerated programs should contact their advisor to ensure proper sharing of credit hours.

Official transcripts must be sent to Graduate Admission Services from the records office of the institution where the credits were earned.

Certain types of graduate credits cannot be transferred to ASU, including credits awarded:

  • By post-secondary institutions that lack candidate status or accreditation by a regional accrediting association, or an equivalent international institution.
  • For life experience.
  • For courses taken at non-collegiate institutions (e.g., government agencies, corporations, and industrial firms).
  • For courses, workshops, and seminars offered by other postsecondary institutions as part of continuing education programs.
  • For extension courses.

Academic credits earned at institutions other than ASU that base their credit calculation on a different scale from ASU’s are subject to conversion before inclusion on a Plan of Study. In all cases, the inclusion of transfer courses on a Plan of Study is subject to approval by the degree program and the Dean of the Graduate College.

Graduate Credits Earned by ASU Undergraduate Students

Pre-admission credit hours earned in graduate-level courses (per Graduate College policy) by ASU undergraduate students may count toward a graduate degree at ASU provided the credit hours have not been used toward a previously awarded degree. Prior to awarding a bachelor’s degree, ASU undergraduate students should contact their undergraduate advisor to set aside graduate courses for use toward a future graduate degree so that these courses do not count toward their undergraduate degree.

ASU students enrolled in an approved Bachelor’s/Master’s degree program (commonly referred to as 4+1), may share ASU credit hours. Students must contact their ASU undergraduate advisor and graduate support staff to ensure proper sharing of credit hours. Students must successfully complete the undergraduate degree and be admitted to the respective graduate program prior to completing 12 credits of graduate coursework.

An undergraduate degree and a graduate degree may not be awarded during the same term of enrollment. Students must apply, be admitted and registered as a graduate student to earn a master’s or doctoral degree at ASU.

Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Credit

The Graduate College accepts a numerical grade of 70 or above for courses taken in the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law as part of an approved Plan of Study. These grades are not used in the two GPAs calculated for graduation unless needed, as determined by the Graduate College. The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law also utilizes a letter grade system for coursework; letter grades are submitted as part of an approved Plan of Study and are calculated in the GPAs.

Repeating ASU courses

Graduate students (degree or non-degree) may retake any course at ASU; however, all grades are part of the student’s permanent academic record and remain on the student transcript as well as in all GPA calculations.

Graduate Foreign Language Examination (FLE)

A graduate degree program may require at least a reading level proficiency of a foreign language relevant to the student’s area of study. Students who are required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language must pass the Graduate Foreign Language Examination specific to their particular graduate program. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of one credit hour during the term in which they take the examination.

Students must successfully complete the Foreign Language Examination before taking any required comprehensive examinations or scheduling the final oral defense of the thesis or dissertation. A student may petition the office for Graduate Education for a re-examination but must pass the examination in no more than three attempts.