Degree Requirements

Progress in a graduate degree program is a shared responsibility of the student and the faculty advisor. Students are responsible for compliance with the rules and procedures of The Graduate School and all other departmental or graduate program requirements. In fulfilling this responsibility, students should seek the advice of the faculty advisor and the director of the graduate program in which they are studying, as well as that of the staff of The Graduate School. Complete information on the special requirements for degrees will be found in the publications of the individual departments and programs. The general degree requirements common to all graduate programs follow.

Requirements for the Master's Degree

The entire course of study undertaken for the M.A., M.F.A., M.P.P., M.P.S., or M.S. degree must constitute a unified, coherent program approved by the student's advisor and by The Graduate School. If the student is inadequately prepared for the required graduate courses, additional courses may be required to supplement the undergraduate work. These courses may not be considered as part of the graduate program. All requirements for the master's degree must be completed within a five-year period. Courses completed more than five years before the expected date for receiving the master's degree will not count toward that degree.

Transfer of Credit

Credits, not to exceed six semester-hours of graduate course work, taken at the University System of Maryland campuses or at other regionally accredited institutions before matriculation in a degree program in The Graduate School, may be applied toward the master's degree. The number of credits that a student may apply to a master's degree while enrolled in a post-baccalaureate certificate program is determined by the graduate program. The credit must have been earned within five years of matriculating into the UMBC master's program. The department or program must agree that the specific credit is appropriate and acceptable in the student's program, and a grade of "B" or better must have been earned in such courses. A grade of "A" in transfer work will not balance a "C" in work taken in the program at UMBC.

A request for transfer of credit should be completed shortly after matriculation on the Transfer of Credit form (available on The Graduate School Web site). This form must be approved by the student's advisor and the graduate program director and then submitted to the administrative offices of The Graduate School. Official transcripts of the courses for which credit is requested must be attached to the form and sent to the administrative offices of The Graduate School.

Under no circumstances will a transfer of credit be allowed for any courses that have been used to fulfill the requirement for any other degree, with one exception. Students enrolled in the accelerated bachelor's/master's program may transfer up to nine graduate credits used toward the baccalaureate degree into the master's degree program. No credit is granted for correspondence courses or for "credit by examination" courses taken at other universities. Note that only credits from other universities are transferred, not the grade received. A grade of "A" in transfer work will not balance a "C" in work taken in the program at UMBC.

Minimum Credit Requirement

The minimum number of credit hours required by the university for the master's degree is 30. However, a substantially greater number of credit hours may be required in some programs.

Thesis Option

Course Requirements
A minimum of 30 credit hours, including a minimum of six hours of thesis research credit (799), is required for all master's degrees. Of the remaining 24 hours required in graduate courses, no fewer than 12 must be selected from courses that number 600 or higher.

Thesis
All thesis and dissertations are submitted electronically. A manual to assist students in the preparing of their thesis may be obtained from the Graduate School Web site at http://www.umbc.edu/gradschool/etd/. All students seeking to graduate with the thesis option must be enrolled in the semester in which they plan to graduate and most likely will successfully complete the requirements during that same semester.

Final Examination
The final oral examination of the thesis is conducted by an examining committee appointed by the dean of The Graduate School. Nominations for membership on the committee are submitted to the dean of The Graduate School by the student's advisor two months before the planned date of the defense. The examining committee will consist of a minimum of three (including the chair) and a maximum of five voting members, three of whom will be members of the graduate faculty. All must hold the highest degree of their discipline. One member of the committee may be a scholar in the field of the thesis from another institution or another component of the University System of Maryland. A curriculum vitae for any outside member must accompany the nomination form. The dean will appoint The Graduate School representative.

The student's advisor, who must be a member of the graduate faculty, chairs the committee. The chairperson is informed of the approval of the nominated examining committee by the dean of The Graduate School. The chairperson of the committee then selects the time and place for the examination and notifies the other members of the committee and the candidate. The candidate must distribute the thesis to all members of the committee at least 10 working days before the date of the scheduled examination. Two members will certify to The Graduate School that the thesis is ready to be defended by filing the Certification of Completion of Master's Thesis form at least two weeks prior to the final examination.

The period for the oral examination is usually about one hour, but the time should be long enough to ensure an adequate examination. An affirmative vote of two members of a three-person committee or an affirmative vote of three members of a four- or five-member committee constitutes a successful defense of the thesis. The representative of The Graduate School shall return the completed Report of the Examining Committee form to the dean within two business days of the oral examination.

Any minor or typographical corrections or recommendations resulting from the oral examination must be incorporated into the thesis by the student before the final copy of the thesis is submitted to the administrative offices of The Graduate School. The signature of the advisor on the approval sheet will certify that all required corrections have been made.

In addition to the oral examination, a comprehensive written examination may be required at the option of the major department or program committee.

Three weeks before the date of graduation, the department must certify on the Completion of Master's Degree Requirements form that the student has completed or is completing all requirements for the degree.

Non-Thesis Option

The requirements for all master's degrees without thesis vary among departments and programs in which this option is available. Standards for admission are, however, identical with those for admission to any master's program. The quality of the work expected of the student is also identical to that expected in the thesis programs. The general requirements for students choosing the non-thesis option are: (a) an overall average grade of "B" in all course work taken; and (b) of the total credits required by a program, a minimum of 18 taken in courses numbered 600 or higher; and programs may require (c) the submission of one or more scholarly papers and/or (d) the passing of a written comprehensive examination. Three weeks before the date of graduation, the department must certify on the Certification of Completion of Master's Degree Requirements form that the student has completed or is completing all requirements for the degree. All students seeking to graduate with non-thesis option must be enrolled in the semester in which they plan to graduate and most likely will successfully complete the requirements during that same semester.

Requirements for the Doctoral Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is the highest degree awarded by the university and is granted only upon sufficient evidence of high attainment in scholarship and the ability to engage in independent research. It is not awarded for the completion of course and seminar requirements alone. In addition to the following requirements, special departmental requirements may be imposed. For these special requirements, consult the individual program descriptions in this catalog, the program's Web site and the graduate program director.

Course Requirements

There is no Graduate School requirement on the number of courses to be taken in either the major or minor fields. It is the policy of The Graduate School to encourage the development of individual programs for each student who seeks the doctorate. To that end, the academic departments and interdisciplinary programs have been directed to determine major and minor requirements, levels or sequences of required courses and similar requirements for submission to the Graduate Council for approval. Any courses taken by a student outside the program in which he or she has been admitted requires the approval of that program's graduate program director. The penalty for not obtaining the proper approvals may lead to dismissal from the program.

Transfer of Credit

Transfer of credit for courses taken at other institutions is not required of doctoral students. Courses approved and accepted by the graduate program are included on the Graduate Record form at the time of admission to candidacy.

Time Required

The equivalent of three years of full-time graduate study and research is the minimum required. Of the three years, the equivalent of at least one year must be spent at UMBC. On a part-time basis, the time needed will be increased correspondingly. All work at other institutions offered in partial fulfillment of the requirements for any doctoral degree must be submitted with the recommendation of the department or program concerned to The Graduate School on The Graduate School Record form for approval at the time of admission to candidacy. Official transcripts of the work must be on file in The Graduate School.

Foreign Language Requirement

Although The Graduate School does not have a language requirement for the doctoral degree, individual programs may have a foreign language requirement, and the student should consult the department regarding this requirement. The program requirement of a foreign language must be satisfied before the student can be admitted to candidacy for the doctorate.

Admission to Candidacy

Preliminary examinations or such other substantial tests as the departments may elect frequently are used as prerequisites for admission to candidacy. A student must be admitted to candidacy within five years after admission to the doctoral program. A student must be admitted to candidacy at least two full sequential semesters (spring, summer or fall) before the date on which the doctoral degree will be conferred.

Applications for admission to candidacy for the doctorate are made by the student and submitted to the major department for further action and transmission to The Graduate School. The Graduate School Record page (a section of the Application for Admission to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy form) delineates all course work taken and proposed by the student in fulfillment of degree requirements. It is the student's responsibility to submit the form promptly when all the requirements for candidacy have been fulfilled. Students must complete all their program requirements for the degree, including the dissertation and final oral examination, within four years after admission to candidacy. Extensions of time are granted only under the most unusual circumstances. Failure to complete all requirements within the time allotted requires another application for admission to The Graduate School with the usual requisites as determined by the department or program committee.

Dissertation

The ability to do independent research must be demonstrated by an original dissertation on a topic approved by the department or program graduate committee.

During the preparation of the dissertation, all candidates for the doctoral degree must register for a minimum of 18 credit hours of doctoral dissertation research, numbered 899, at UMBC.

Authorization for publication of all or a portion of the dissertation prior to its defense and approval by the graduate faculty examining committee should be discussed between the student and the research advisor. Further authorization from the dean of The Graduate School is unnecessary. All dissertations are submitted electronically. A manual to help students prepare their dissertations may be obtained from The Graduate School Web site at http://www.umbc.edu/gradschool/etd/

Dissertation Examination Committee

The final oral defense of the dissertation is conducted by an examination committee recommended by the graduate faculty advisor and approved by the dean of The Graduate School.

Nominations for membership on the committee will be submitted by the student's advisor at least six months before the date of the final examination on the Nomination of Members for the Final Dissertation Examination Committee form. The committee will consist of a minimum of five voting members, all of whom hold the doctoral degree. At least three of these will be regular members of the graduate faculty. At least one of the five will hold an appointment in a program external to the one in which the student is seeking the degree. Members of the committee may be people from other institutions who hold a doctorate and who are distinguished scholars in the field of the dissertation. A curriculum vitae for any outside member(s) must accompany the Nomination of Members form.

The chair and two readers will be identified on the nomination form. The time and place of the examination will be established by the advisor, who will serve as chair of the committee. A co-chair of the committee may also be identified.

The dean of The Graduate School will appoint the final examination committee and notify the advisor of the approved committee. One member of the committee will be designated by the dean as his or her representative.

Final Examination

When the dissertation is complete and ready for distribution to the examination committee, the chair, co-chair, and both readers will sign the Certification of Completion of Doctoral Dissertation form. This form is to be filed with The Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the final examination along with the Announcement of Defense form and abstract. The abstract and defense dates are posted on The Graduate School website at www.umbc.edu/gradschool/current/dissertation_defense_announcements/ To permit all members of the committee adequate time to prepare for the examination, each must receive the final dissertation two weeks before the examination.

All final oral examinations are open to members of the graduate faculty. After the examination, the committee deliberates and votes in private. The affirmative votes of a majority plus one of the examination committee constitutes a successful defense of the dissertation; this means that the required number of affirmative votes is either four from a five-member committee, or five from a six- or seven-member committee. In addition to the normal responsibilities of a faculty examiner, the dean's representative must ensure that the examination is conducted according to established procedures. Any disagreement over the examination procedure is referred to the dean's representative for decision.

The Report of Examining Committee form is to be carried to the examination by the dean's representative. The signed report form, whether positive or negative, is to be returned to the administrative offices of The Graduate School within two business days of the oral defense. If the report is negative, a letter of explanation and remediation, if appropriate, must be given to The Graduate School, the graduate program director and the student within two working days of the defense.

Any minor typographical corrections or emendations to the dissertation agreed upon by the examining committee at the time of the final doctoral oral examination must be incorporated in the dissertation by the student before the final copy of the dissertation is submitted to the administrative offices of The Graduate School. The signature of the mentor on the approval sheet will certify that all required corrections or emendations have been made. The candidate may attempt the final oral defense only twice. A failure on the second attempt means the doctoral degree is forfeited.

Requirements for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate

Each MHEC-approved post-baccalaureate certificate requires the completion of a set of prescribed courses, usually four. Credits may not be transferred into a certificate program from another institution. If a required course was taken as a non-degree student at UMBC the department has the authority to approve a course transfer. If the student has already completed a required course(s) elsewhere, another graduate course(s) taken at UMBC may be substituted, with defipartmental approval.

At the discretion of the department(s), a student may pursue more than one certificate at a time. If the certificates have course duplications, credits may, at the discretion of the department, be used by a student for all such certificates. The grade of "B" or higher must have been earned in the required courses. If a lower grade is earned, the course must be repeated until at least a "B" is earned.

Certificates must be completed within a five-year period, though some departments may require a shorter completion time. The student must submit, with appropriate signatures, the Application for Certificate/ Fulfillment of Course Requirement form within the first 10 days of the semester in which the coursework will be completed. A certificate completion fee will be assessed. The certificate diploma will be made available after the semester's grades have been posted and the clearance process has been completed. Only students receiving master's and doctoral degrees are eligible to participate in the university commencement ceremonies.

Requirements for Graduation

The Graduate School issues a calendar each year showing dates by which certain requirements for graduation are to be met and forms to be submitted by students who are in the last semester of their graduate program. This calendar is on The Graduate School Web site. Graduate students should consider it their responsibility to meet the deadlines therein if they expect to receive their diplomas at the end of the semester. The Application for Diploma form must be filed with The Graduate School within the first 10 days of the semester in which the candidate expects to obtain a degree. Diplomas will be issued at the end of each semester. Students graduating in August and December are invited to participate in either the December or May Commencement ceremonies.

If students who have applied for a diploma realize they will not be able to complete the requirements for the degree as planned, they should inform the administrative offices of The Graduate School as soon as possible. Students not graduating at the end of the semester in which they had applied for the diploma must reapply in the semester in which they expect to graduate. Students must register for at least one credit per fall and spring semester until graduation.

Academic regalia is required of all candidates at both the December and May Commencements. Information regarding caps, gowns and hoods will be provided by the administrative offices of The Graduate School.