2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
    Jan 18, 2022  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Masters 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, letters of recommendation, and other materials as required by Graduate School before processing of the application will begin.  Application materials are due to the Graduate School by April 15 to be considered for fall enrollment and by August 15 (for international applicants) or October 15 (for domestic applicants) to be considered for spring enrollment.  Students should check with their specific program of interest as some programs have earlier deadlines. Applicants for the Master’s degrees must have an approved Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (except in approved/accelerated programs). Application may be made on-line at https://app.applyyourself.com/?id=sdstate-g.

Advisory Committee


 After consultation with the student, the head of the major department will designate a major advisor. The major advisor will recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School members of an Advisory Committee by submission of the Committee Approval Request Form:

  • Major Advisor – acts as the chairperson of the committee and must have Graduate Faculty status at SDSU.
  • One (1) additional member from the major or related department.
  • Graduate Faculty Representative - selected by the Graduate School, from a discipline not closely related to the major/minor/supporting areas. This member ensures that rules and regulations are followed and acts as the student’s advocate, if necessary. For committee decisions, the Graduate Faculty Representative must vote in the affirmative for the vote to carry.

A minimum of three (3) members shall constitute the committee and each must have Graduate Faculty status. The Advisory Committee is responsible for assisting the student in developing a suitable graduate program, providing continuing guidance and counsel, and certifying the completion of the degree requirements to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Major Advisor approves the plan of study and any revisions of it, approves the thesis proposal (if applicable), conducts the examinations appropriate to each option, supervises the validation of courses, and ensures that

Plan of Study Information


Guidelines - During the first semester of graduate work and no later than the end of the first year or completion of fifty (50) percent of the credits needed for graduation, the plan of study must be prepared on the appropriate form and approved by the major advisor. The plan of study will then be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval. At least fifty (50) percent of the credits on a plan of study must be in courses open only to graduate students (600-series or above). Failure to submit a plan of study may result in disapproval of courses taken prior to approval and/or registration restrictions. After approval, changes in the plan of study must be requested on the appropriate form. While devising a plan of study, refer to the “Academic Information” section in this catalog in addition to the following information.





A     Thesis

B     Research Paper/Design Paper

C     Coursework only

Minimum Credit Hours*




*Requirements may vary by Graduate Program

Minor/Supporting Area Requirement - Most Master’s programs do not require a minor or supporting area of coursework. If required, it is indicated in the listing of degrees and in the department/program section of this catalog. Whether required or not, consideration should be given to both depth and breadth of courses on the plan of study.

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.

Registration and Status


To maintain active status, students must be registered for each semester of the academic year (excluding summer).  All graduate assistants must register for a minimum of one (1) credit (including summer) in order to receive an assistantship.

Students who are not registered will be moved to inactive status.  Inactive students must apply and be accepted for readmission before continuing graduate study.



Comprehensive - In those programs requiring a comprehensive written examination, the examination will be given: by the Advisory Committee at least two (2) weeks prior to the final oral examination; filed in the major department for review; and be available at the final oral examination. A comprehensive written examination is required of all students on non-thesis, Option C, programs. This comprehensive written examination may take different formats according to program requirements.  The comprehensive written exam must be passed at least ten (10) working days prior to scheduling the comprehensive oral exam.

Final - An 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 “Final Oral Exam” form must be submitted to the Graduate School ten(10) working days before the exam. This examination must occur at least ten (10) working days before Commencement. The Graduate Faculty Representative and all but one (1) of the graduate committee must pass the student.

Thesis, Research Paper,  or Design Paper


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.

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.

Credits - 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 - The thesis must be prepared in the format required by the Graduate School. Instructions are found on the Graduate School website. 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.

Use of Human Subjects or Vertebrate Animals in Research, if applicable -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 or contact the SDSU Research Compliance Coordinator in the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs, SAD 124, 605-688-697

Multiple Master’s Degrees or Majors


Graduate students may pursue a second or additional Master’s degree in areas other than their first Master’s degree, providing the degree designation is different. Up to ten (10) credits may be transferred to a second degree program.

Time Limitation


Obsolete Program - If the requirements for the Master’s degree are not completed within six (6) years from the beginning semester, a reconsideration of the student’s program will be required and the rules of the Graduate School in effect at the beginning of the seventh (7th) year will apply.

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.

Master’s Degrees and Options

Program Degree Thesis Research/ Design Paper Courses only
     Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering MS A B  
     Animal Science MS A    
     Architecture MArch     C
     Athletic Training MS A B  
     Biological Sciences MS A B3
     Chemistry MS A    
     Civil Engineering MS A B C
     Communication Studies and Journalism - Communication MS A    
     Communication Studies and Journalism - Journalism MS A B  
     Computer Science MS A B C
     Counseling and Human Resource Development MEd A B C
     Counseling and Human Resource Development MS A B C
     Curriculum and Instruction MEd   B C
     Dietetics MS A B C
     Economics MS A B  
     Educational Administration MEd   B C
     Electrical Engineering MS A B  
     English MA A   C
     Geography MS A B  
     Human Sciences MS A B C
     Mass Communication MMC   B  
     Mathematics MS A B C
     Mechanical Engineering MS A B C
     Nursing MS A B C
     Nutritional, Exercise, and Food Sciences MS A B  
     Operations Management MS A B C
     Plant Science MS A B  
     Sociology and Rural Studies MS A B C
     Sport and Recreation Studies MS A B C
     Statistics MS A B  
     Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences MS A    

Minimum Credit Hour Requirement

  30 32 35
   1 Options:  A. Thesis        
                     B.  Research Paper/Design Paper        
                     C. Coursework only        
   2 Department requires a minor/supporting area        
   3 Biology Specialization only        


Master’s Degree Checklist

Requirements When Due
 Application for Admission to Graduate School approved Fall admission - April 15
  Spring admission - August 15 (international)
                                October 15 (domestic)
Designation of Major Advisor Upon acceptance into Graduate School and degree program
Designation of Advisory Committee* During first semester or as soon as practical after beginning program
Approval of Plan of Study* by Major Advisor submitted to Graduate School During first semester or upon completion of 50% of credits toward graduation
Comprehensive Written Examination (if required by program) At least two (2) weeks before final oral exam
Filing of Graduation Application* By date set by Graduate School
Thesis/Dissertation Format Check By date set by Graduate School
Thesis/Research or Design Paper submitted to Advisory Committee At least two (2) weeks before final oral examination
Thesis submitted to Graduate School At least two (2) weeks before final oral examination
Request for Scheduling Final Oral Examination* Ten (10) full working days before final oral examination
Final Oral Examination By date set by Graduate School
Corrected copies of Thesis submitted to Graduate School and Library, both paper copy and electronic copy. By date set by Graduate School
Research or Design Paper filed in major department By the end of final’s week
Research or Design Paper grade submitted (S, U) By deadline for final grades at the end of the semester

 *Graduate School forms are available at the Graduate School page on InsideState (faculty) and MyState Online (students).