2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
    Jun 22, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Master's Degree Requirements

 Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.

Admission Requirements

The application file must be complete with the application form, application fee, all post-secondary transcripts, degree certificate,  and other materials as required by specific programs before processing of the application will begin.  Application materials are due to the Graduate School by April 15 to be considered for fall admission and by August 15 (international applicants) or October 15 (domestic applicants) to be considered for spring admission.  Students should check with their specific program of interest, as some programs have earlier deadlines.  Master’s degree applicants must have an approved Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (except in approved/accelerated programs). Applications for domestic, international or non-degree seeking students are found at http://app.applyyourself.com/?id=sdstate-g.

Advisory Committee

After consultation with the student, the head of the major department will designate a major advisor. As soon as possible, but no later than the completion of fifty (50) percent of the credits toward graduation, the major advisor will recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School (by submission of the committee approval request form) members of an Advisory Committee. All graduate students in master’s (option A, B and C) degrees must form a committee. The Advisory Committee must be composed of three (3) to five (5) members. The committee must include:

  • Committee Chair – must hold either full Graduate Faculty or Associate Graduate Faculty status at SDSU to chair master’s (option B and C) committees. Committee Chair must hold full Graduate Faculty status at SDSU to chair master’s (option A) committees. Lecturer or Senior Lecturer-rank faculty who hold Associate Graduate Faculty status may chair master’s (option A) committees with Department Head approval. This member assists the student in developing a suitable graduate program, provides continuing guidance and counsel, evaluates student progress, informs the student as to who will provide primary research supervision, serves as a contact for the committee and ensures the completion of the degree requirements to the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Additional member(s) with expertise within the discipline - must hold either full Graduate Faculty or Associate Graduate Faculty status at SDSU. Additional members assist the student in developing a suitable graduate program, provide continuing guidance and counsel, evaluate student progress, and assist with the completion of the degree requirements. Additional members may serve as co-chairs.
  • Graduate Faculty Representative - selected by the Dean of the Graduate School from within a distant, broadly-defined discipline. This member represents the Graduate Council to ensure the supervision of the student is carried out with sufficient integrity. This member ensures that minimal academic standards are maintained and acts as an advocate and counselor for the student. For votes regarding the final oral defense, the Graduate Faculty Representative must vote in the affirmative for the vote to carry.

Committee chairs, with department head approval, may request up to two (2) additional committee members. The Dean of the Graduate School approves requests for additional committee members.

Professional doctorate degree holders with full Graduate Faculty status may only serve as chair for a committee for the degree which they hold.

Adjunct faculty members or University employees holding a master’s degree who fail to qualify as Associate Graduate Faculty member may serve on graduate student committees. Such committees must contain the minimum number of Full/Associate Graduate Faculty in addition to the master’s degree holder. A committee may only include one master’s degree holder. Addition of the master’s degree holder does not alter the maximum number of committee members allowed. The master’s degree holder is not considered as having Associate Graduate Faculty status and cannot serve as co-chair.

The Advisory Committee is responsible for approving the content and scope of comprehensive and final examinations, both written and oral. The committee must evaluate the student’s performance for the final oral exam and all other degree requirements taken under the auspices of -798 coursework (including those internal to the program).

All committee members must be available for regular meetings with the student and/or committee. Each committee member has voting privileges. Only committee members may vote on business before the committee. For activities requiring committee votes, the chair must ensure due diligence for accommodating all members of the committee. The Graduate Faculty Representative and all but one (1) of the graduate committee must vote in the affirmative to pass the student.

The Department Head is responsible for informing the Graduate School if and when a committee member can no longer discharge her/his duties consistent with the policies of the University.

Plan of Study/Credit Requirements

After the Advisory Committee is formed, the major advisor will schedule a meeting with the student to develop a plan of study. The plan of study must be submitted using the plan of study form (http://www.sdstate.edu/graduate/upload/Master-s-Plan-of-Study.pdf) and approved by the major advisor and  the Dean of the Graduate School for approval prior to completion of 50 percent of the credits toward graduation. Delay in submitting a plan of study may result in disapproval of courses taken prior to approval and/or registration restrictions. Changes in the approved plan of study must be requested using the change in plan of study form (http://www.sdstate.edu/graduate/forms/upload/Change-of-Plan-of-Study-2015.pdf). While devising the plan of study, please refer to specific academic program requirements in the Academic Programs  section of the catalog in addition to the following information.

Plan of Study Total Credits Required:





A     Thesis

B     Research/Design Paper

C     Coursework only

D     Coursework only (professional)

Minimum Credit Hours*





*Requirements may vary by Graduate Program

Minor/Supporting Area Requirement - Few programs require a minor.  Please see departmental requirements for specific minors.

Graduate Credit Requirement - Credit applied toward graduate credentials should be at the 500-level and above. At least fifty (50) percent of the credits on a plan of study must be in courses 600-series or above. Please refer to the Graduate Credit Requirements Policy for more information http://www.sdstate.edu/policies/upload/Credit-Requirements-for-Graduate-Degree-Programs.pdf.

Language Requirement - There is no general language requirement for the Master’s degree. However, individual departments may require a speaking or reading knowledge of a modern language other than English.


Final Oral Exam - The student arranges with his/her advisory committee the time and location for the final oral examination.   The student will submit the final oral exam form to the Graduate School no less than two (2) weeks prior to the examination date. A final oral examination will be administered by the Advisory Committee, covering the student’s plan of study and research if appropriate. This examination must be comprehensive, testing the student’s ability to analyze, integrate, and apply knowledge from the discipline. The Graduate Faculty Representative and all but one (1) of the graduate committee must vote to pass the student.  The final oral exam must be completed three (3) weeks prior to the end of the semester in order to graduate.

Thesis, Research Paper, or Design Paper

Research Paper/Design Paper Requirements - Students following Option B must complete at least two (2) credits for a research problem (or design paper in Engineering) in the major field and present a written report. The content, style, and format of the report must meet the requirements of the program. The research report or design paper must be approved by the Advisory Committee and filed in the major department. A copy of the written report should be provided to each committee member, including the Graduate Faculty Representative ten (10) working days before the oral exam, and be available at the final oral examination.

Thesis Requirements - A thesis must meet the requirements of the program and the Graduate School and must be submitted by each student completing a Master’s degree in Option A. The thesis must represent a scholarly contribution to research knowledge in the major field.  A research area for the thesis topic should be chosen after consultation with the major advisor as early in the student’s program as possible. The thesis accounts for five (5) to ten (10) semester hours in the major.

Thesis Formatting and Deposition - All theses must be submitted to the Graduate School for appropriate format checking and deposition with the library. Instructions are found on the Graduate School website (http://www.sdstate.edu/graduate/current/guidelines.cfm).

Use of Human Subjects or Vertebrate Animals in Research - After receiving approval of the research proposal students must also seek approval for the use of human subjects or vertebrate animals in research (from the appropriate committee, if applicable). These approvals must be secured before beginning the study.  For more information, visit the Research Compliance website (http://www.sdstate.edu/research/compliance/index.cfm) or contact the SDSU Research Compliance Coordinator in the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs, SAD 124, 605-688-6696.

Credit Sharing between Graduate Credentials

Credit can be used for the satisfaction of more than one graduate credential (graduate certificate, graduate minor, master’s degree) issued by SDSU and may be paired to share credit. Each graduate credential may be paired with itself or any other graduate credential. For example, two master’s degrees may be paired or a master’s degree and a graduate certificate.

The allowable credit shared between graduate credentials equals the sum of the minimum required credit hours for each credential divided by 6 (six). The maximum allowed is 50% of either credential program. Once a graduate credential participates in a credit pairing, the graduate credential may not be paired with a third credential. Credit hours may not be used three times to satisfy graduate credential requirements.

Time Limitation

Obsolete Program - If the requirements for the Master’s degree are not completed within six (6) years from the program start date, a form to request an extension of the graduate program must be submitted to the Graduate School.  The request will be reviewed and a decision as to whether the student may continue in the program will be made by the Graduate School Dean.

Obsolete Coursework - Courses completed more than six (6) years prior to completion of the requirements of the Master’s degree are regarded as obsolete coursework. Such courses may be used in the Master’s degree program if validated. Validation is allowed at the discretion of the major advisor with approval of the Graduate School. Validation of obsolete coursework cannot exceed fifty (50) percent of the total coursework listed on the plan of study and must be certified by the major advisor on the appropriate form. Course validation may be subject to a processing fee. Only courses taken at SDSU may be validated.

Master’s Degree Checklist

Requirements Timeline
Designation of Major Advisor Upon acceptance into Graduate School.
Designation of Advisory Committee During first semester of graduate work Graduate Faculty Representative will be assigned by the Graduate School.
Plan of Study During the first semester of graduate work or before 50% of coursework is complete. Must be approved by major advisor and submitted to Graduate School.
Graduation Application During final semester, by deadline.*
Final Oral Exam During final semester, by deadline.*
Final oral exam form must be submitted two (2) weeks prior to exam date.
Thesis Format Check
(Option A Only)
After successful completion of final oral exam, by deadline.*
Final Submission of Thesis
(Option A Only)
Must complete format check first. Final submission due by deadline.*
Signed acceptance page and library fee must also be submitted.
Final Submission of Research/Design Paper
(Option B Only)

Submitted directly to the Department by specified deadline.

 * The Graduate School sets deadlines for graduation (http://www.sdstate.edu/graduate/current/important-dates.cfm) each semester. Please also consult with your Department for other program specific requirements and deadlines.  All forms are available on the Graduate School Forms page (http://www.sdstate.edu/graduate/forms/index.cfm).