2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
    Oct 22, 2020  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Master’s Degree Requirements

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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.  Master’s degree applicants must have an approved Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (except in approved/accelerated programs). Applications can be submitted 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 (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 to chair master’s (option B and C) committees. Committee Chair must hold Full Graduate Faculty Status 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 in 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 avail themselves to 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 committee and the student must approve the Plan of Study, and must forward the request to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval. 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 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.



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 two (2) weeks before the exam. 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. 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, 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, 605-688-6696.

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 time of admission, a reconsideration of the student’s program will be required.

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 B  
     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  
     Counseling and Human Resource Development MEd A B C
     Counseling and Human Resource Development MS A B C
     Curriculum and Instruction MEd   B C
     Data Science MS     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 C
     Master of Public Health MPH     C
     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 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 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.