Graduate Degree Requirements
Candidates must satisfy all university degree requirements and all requirements established by the master's program faculty. Specific departmental degree requirements are listed under the respective graduate programs in this catalog.
The following requirements apply to all master's degrees:
- A candidate must have earned a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit.
- Only graduate-level courses may apply toward the degree.
- A graduate student may apply up to 6 hours of C grades in graduate-level courses and must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on the degree application. The GPA calculation does not include transfer or GMU Extended Studies credits.
- A candidate must have completed at least 18 semester hours of graduate-level work at the university after having been admitted to degree status.
- A candidate must have completed at least 24 semester hours at the university of which:
a. A maximum of 6 semester hours may be in master's thesis research (799) or in master's project research (798);
b. No more than 12 semester hours may have been earned through enrollment in nondegree status or through extended studies enrollment prior to acceptance in a degree program;
c. No more than 6 semester hours may be transfer credit for course work taken prior to admission, with credit earned in nondegree status or through extended studies enrollment reduced accordingly (exceptions are noted under individual degree programs);
d. A maximum of 6 semester hours may be transfer credit taken after admission to the university.
A student must complete all requirements for the desired master's degree within six years from the date of initial registration as an admitted (degree or provisional) graduate student. A graduate student who terminates enrollment and later is granted permission to re-enroll may not count the six-year time limit as beginning on the date of re-enrollment.
Requirements regarding a thesis vary with the degree program. A number of master's programs offer both a thesis and nonthesis option. The same quality of work is expected of students regardless of their chosen option. For further information, consult the section on degree requirements under each degree program.
When a thesis proposal has been approved by the appropriate department, the department chair sends the collegiate dean or director a copy of the thesis proposal, including the approval signatures of the master's thesis committee members. The student may enroll in the thesis research course (799) at the beginning of the next semester. Students must register for three hours per semester until they reach the last three required hours. Once they have only three credits remaining, students must enroll for one credit hour per semester until graduation. To be considered a full-time student, the adviser and department chair must certify each semester that the student is working full time on his/her thesis.
The master's thesis committee is named by the candidate's department chair, who also designates a member of the graduate faculty from that department as the thesis committee chair. The committee is appointed after consultation with the candidate and the adviser, and consists of at least three persons, two of whom must be members of the graduate faculty, and one of whom may be from outside the department. At least two committee members must be members of the graduate faculty.
The thesis committee chair is primarily responsible for directing and guiding the candidate's research and writing activities. The student is responsible for keeping all committee members informed of the scope, plan, and progress of both the research and the thesis.
Students selecting the thesis option should obtain a copy of the Guide for Preparing Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Projects from the course materials store in the Johnson Center. Students may register in the thesis course (799) only after a thesis proposal has been submitted and approved as prescribed in the guide. Any student not in attendance at the university who is preparing a thesis under the active supervision of a member of the faculty, or who wishes to take an examination, must maintain continuous registration for at least one hour per semester.
The original and one copy of the thesis with two original signed cover sheets must be deposited with the college/school/institute dean or director on or before the date specified below:
Candidates must satisfy all university degree requirements and all requirements established by the doctoral program faculty. Specific program degree requirements are listed under the respective doctoral programs in this catalog.
The requirements that follow apply to all doctoral degrees. A doctoral candidate must:
- Acquire a minimum of 72 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the baccalaureate degree, with the following limitations:
(a) No more than 24 semester hours in doctoral dissertation research (999) or doctoral proposal (998) combined.
(b) No more than 12 semester hours of transfer credit taken after admission to doctoral degree status.
- Pass a written and/or oral doctoral candidacy (qualifying) examination.
- Obtain approval for a final oral doctoral examination from the doctoral dissertation committee, the department chair, and the dean or director of the school, college, or institute. Approval by Ph.D. program directors varies among disciplines. Candidates should check with their college/school/institute.
- Apply no more than six hours of C grades in graduate-level courses and must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on the degree application. The GPA calculation does not include transfer or George Mason extended studies credits.
The number of hours required by a doctoral degree program may be reduced by a maximum of 30 hours if a master's degree or other appropriate hours have been earned prior to admission. These hours should be noted on the program of study.
All doctoral students are required to spend a minimum of two consecutive semesters, not including the Summer Term, in continuous registration. The doctoral program of study must include a minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate work taken at George Mason University after admission to degree status.
Doctoral students have six years from the time of admission to become advanced to candidacy. Students have five years from the time of advancement to complete their dissertation.
At the time that a doctoral student is advanced to candidacy, the dean or director of their college/school/institute appoints a dissertation committee upon recommendation by the department chair or institute director. The committee consists of a professor from the department of the student's major and at least two other members of the graduate faculty, one of whom must be from outside the student's department. Additional members may be appointed who are not members of the graduate faculty or who are from outside the university.
Student-initiated changes in the composition of the dissertation committee may occur only with the approval of the dean or institute director in consultation with the committee; such changes would be for extenuating circumstances only. Faculty may resign from a dissertation committee with appropriate notice; such resignations must be submitted in writing to the dean or institute director.
In order for a dissertation to be approved, all committee members are expected to sign the dissertation. If a committee member refuses to sign the dissertation, the student or any member of the committee may petition the unit dean or institute director for a review and ruling to resolve the stalemate. The dean/director may seek the advice of outside reviewers to provide assessment of the work. The final decision is that of the unit dean or institute director.
Some doctoral degree programs require demonstration of proficiency in a research skill: a reading knowledge of the research literature in a foreign language, knowledge of a computer language, knowledge of statistical methods, or knowledge of a research tool specific to the discipline. Research skill requirements are included with the degree requirements for the specific doctoral degree. Where demonstration of research skills is required, certification that this requirement has been met must be completed for advancement to candidacy.
Normally before the end of the second year of graduate study, but no later than consideration for advancement to candidacy, a doctoral student must submit a program of study for approval by the dean or director of his/her college, school, or institute. The program of study must include major courses and supporting courses to be completed, research skills required, subject areas to be covered by the candidacy examination, and a proposed date for the candidacy examination. Program of Study forms are available from each program's doctoral coordinator. Any changes in the programs of study must be documented with an amended Program of Study form.
Advancement to candidacy implies that a doctoral student has demonstrated both a breadth and depth of knowledge in the field of study and is capable of exploring problems on the boundaries of knowledge.
The candidacy examination includes a written part and may include an oral part, depending on the particular doctoral program. Doctoral students should consult the degree requirements for each doctoral program to determine whether an oral portion is required, whether it is judged separately or with the written portion, the number of times a failed candidacy examination may be repeated and any time limits for repeating, and any time limits for attempting the candidacy examination.
Before doctoral students may be advanced to candidacy by the unit dean or director, they should have completed all course work required by the program faculty, have been certified in all doctoral research skills required, have passed the candidacy examination, and have been recommended by the doctoral supervisory committee or the program coordinator.
A dissertation is required for the doctor of philosophy degree and most professional doctoral degrees. The dissertation is a written piece of original thinking that demonstrates doctoral candidates' mastery of the subject matter, methodologies, and conceptual foundations in their chosen fields of study. This is generally achieved through consideration of a problem on the boundaries of knowledge in the discipline.
The director of the dissertation committee is primarily responsible for directing the doctoral candidate's research and guiding the preparation of the written dissertation. After the dissertation committee is appointed, the student should begin discussions with the director to define a suitable problem for the dissertation. Before the student may enroll in doctoral dissertation research (999), the dissertation proposal must be approved by the dissertation committee and evidence of its approval sent to the unit dean or director for approval. Prior to that time, the student may enroll in proposal research (998).
Guidelines for the content and general format of the doctoral dissertation may be found in the Guide for Preparing Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Projects, which is available in the course materials store in the Johnson Center. The guide also includes information on the number of copies required, and submission of the dissertation for approval by the dissertation committee and the unit dean or director. Consult your doctoral coordinator to determine which additional reference manuals are appropriate to your discipline.
Registration for doctoral research proposal courses (998) and doctoral dissertation courses (999) must be completed during early registration or by the end of the Schedule Adjustment period. If this date is missed, students must register for these courses the following semester.
All registration for doctoral dissertation research (999) must be planned in advance with the dissertation director and doctoral coordinator in the college, school, or institute. Students must register for a minimum of three hours per semester (six hours per semester is required to be considered full time) until the last three dissertation hours are reached. Once the the student has three or fewer hours remaining, a student may register for one credit of 998 or 999 and be considered a full-time student as long as his/her adviser and department chair certify each semester that they are working full-time on their proposal or dissertation.
As soon as all degree requirements have been satisfied, including the completion of the doctoral dissertation, the doctoral candidate may arrange with the dissertation committee to schedule the doctoral defense. Defense fliers or notices must be circulated two weeks prior to defense date.
The oral defense should demonstrate the candidate's maturity of judgment and intellectual command of the chosen branches of the candidate's field of study.
At the close of the final defense, the dissertation committee makes final judgments for approving the dissertation. The doctoral candidate is responsible for making all required changes promptly, securing the signatures of the director and other members of the dissertation committee, and submitting the original and required copies to the graduating candidate's school, college, or institute for approval by the unit dean or director.
Two original copies on 100% cotton bond and one photocopied copy of the dissertation must be deposited with the unit dean or director. In addition, submission of the dissertation to University Microfilms International (UMI) is required; a fee of approximately $50 is paid by the student for this process. All copies of the dissertation must be submitted and fees paid before the doctoral degree is awarded. Dissertation due dates are as follows:
Return to Catalog Index