Graduate College

GPP: Master’s degree

Master’s degree

Master’s degree Plan of Study (iPOS)

Students must submit an iPOS before completing 50 percent of the credit hours required for their degree program. A student is not eligible to schedule a comprehensive examination or defense without an approved iPOS.

Master’s degree minimum credit hours

A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate work is required for the master’s degree at ASU. If a thesis is required, 6 (and only 6) of the minimum required credit hours on an iPOS must be 599 Thesis credits. Plans of Study submitted for master’s degrees that do not have a thesis requirement cannot include 599 Thesis credits. If an applied project is required, the Applied Project course (XXX 593) must be included on the Plan of Study and requires a grade of “B” or better. 

Master’s degree maximum time limit

All work toward a master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program. Graduate courses taken prior to admission that are included on the Plan of Study must have been completed within three years of the semester and year of admission to the program.

Master’s degree supervisory committee

A master’s supervisory committee must be appointed before the student may apply for the comprehensive examination or before the student can register for 599 Thesis credits (if applicable). The committee is appointed by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education upon the recommendation of the head of the academic unit. For programs requiring a thesis or written examination, the supervisory committee is comprised of a minimum of three members, including a chair or co-chairs.

Tenured/tenure-track faculty may serve as members of a master’s graduate supervisory committee, chair or
co-chair. The chair of the committee is typically from the student’s degree program and should be carefully selected by the student to guide their work. ASU academic professionals or non-tenure accruing faculty with appropriate academic credentials may serve as a member or co-chair on master’s committees; they may not serve as chair of a master’s supervisory committee.

Master’s thesis/thesis defense

To satisfy the research requirement for master’s degrees, a student is expected to present a thesis that is defended in an oral examination. Degree programs may have requirements in addition to the thesis (e.g. comprehensive examinations). Students should check with their degree program to confirm requirements. An oral defense of the thesis is required and must be completed to the satisfaction of the supervisory committee. At least 50% of the committee must be physically present at the oral defense. Students must be physically present at the oral defense of their thesis. Students must be registered for:

  • At least one semester hour of credit that appears on the Plan of Study; OR
  • At least one semester hour of appropriate graduate-level credit, for example: Research (592), Thesis (599), or Continuing Registration (595 or 695); OR
  • At least one hour of a graduate-level course.

Revisions to the thesis are typical and must be completed in a timely manner. If the student is unable to complete revisions to the thesis and submit to UMI/ProQuest by the deadline for the semester in which the defense is held, the student must complete the revisions, remain continuously enrolled, and present the final document to UMI/ProQuest within one year of the defense. Failure to do so will require the re-submission of the document for format review and may result in re-defense of the thesis to ensure currency of the research.

Other master’s culminating experiences

A comprehensive examination, capstone course, applied project or portfolio is required as a culminating experience in master’s programs that do not have a thesis requirement. The Graduate College requires a written component to the comprehensive examination; academic units may also require an oral component. Students must have an approved iPOS prior to scheduling their comprehensive examination and/or registering for their applied project or capstone course. An applied project requires registration in the Applied Projects course (XXX 593) and requires a grade of “B” or better. A capstone course requires a grade of “B” or better.

Students are required to register for at least one semester hour of credit that appears on the iPOS or one hour of appropriate graduate-level credit during the fall, spring or summer session in which they complete their culminating experience.

Master’s comprehensive examination

Students must be in good academic standing regarding GPA requirements (see previous section titled “Satisfactory Academic Progress”) prior to taking master’s comprehensive examinations. Foreign language requirements, if applicable, must be fulfilled before taking the comprehensive examinations.

Students are required to register for at least one semester hour of credit that appears on the iPOS or one hour of appropriate graduate-level credit during the fall, spring or summer session in which they take their comprehensive examinations.

The master’s comprehensive examination must have a written component; however, individual master’s degree programs may require an additional oral component of the comprehensive exam for all of their students based on the academic progress policy of the program.

The student must schedule the comprehensive examination with their academic unit. All comprehensive examination results must be reported to the Graduate College immediately upon completion. Academic units are not required to allow students a second opportunity; upon failing comprehensive examinations, academic units may submit a recommendation to the Graduate College requesting dismissal of the student from the degree program.

Failing the comprehensive examination(s) is considered final unless the supervisory committee and the head of the academic unit recommend and the Dean of the Graduate College approve a re-examination. Only one re-examination is permitted. A petition with substantial justification for re-examination, endorsed by the members of the student's supervisory committee and the head of the academic unit, must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College before a student can take the examination a second time.

Re-examination may be administered no sooner than three months and no later than one year from the date of the original examination. The Graduate College may withdraw a student from the degree program if the student's petition for re-examination is not approved, or if the student fails to successfully pass the retake of the comprehensive examination(s).

Students choosing to appeal the results of their comprehensive examinations must follow the grade appeals process outlined by their academic unit.