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Master's Degree


The master’s degree is awarded when a student completes required coursework and submits an acceptable thesis or achieves a passing score on a comprehensive examination. The policies on the general requirements for master’s degrees are found in the Academic Senate bylaws and regulations section 500.

Thesis or M.F.A. Project Plan (Plan I) Requirements

Under Master’s Thesis or M.F.A. Project Plan (Plan I), a student must complete a minimum of 30 units of upper division and graduate level work, at least 12 of which must be graduate work in the major field, and submit a thesis or a project report as described in the program’s approved degree requirements; the degree requirements may specify additional required units above the minimum. Under M.F.A. Plan I, the student is required to present a project or show which represents the capstone event. At least 12 of the required 30 units must be graduate (200 level) work in the major subject or 300/400 level work (if the 300/400 work has been approved by Graduate Council for graduate degree credit.)

The M.F.A. Plan I capstone event will consist of a presentation of a critical body of work as a project or show. This project may take several forms depending upon the graduate program’s degree requirements as approved by the Graduate Council.

Comprehensive Examination or Report Plan (Plan II) Requirements

Under the Master’s Comprehensive Exam or Report Plan (Plan II), a student must complete a minimum of 36 units of upper division and graduate level work, of which at least 18 units must be graduate courses in the major field and not more than 9 units of research units. The candidate must achieve satisfactory performance on a comprehensive examination or a comprehensive report; the degree requirements may specify additional required units above the minimum. A comprehensive examination may be written, oral, or both according to the approved degree requirements of the graduate program. The program should inform their students of the exam’s general subject matter before an examination takes place. 

Advancement to Candidacy

Every student must file an official application for Candidacy for the Degree of Master of “____” after completing one-half of their course requirements and at least one quarter before completing all degree requirements. The forms for Candidacy can be found under Forms. Students will pay the candidacy fee to the university Cashier’s Office prior to submitting the candidacy form to Graduate Studies. This fee is non-refundable. A completed form includes a list of courses the student will take to complete degree requirements, as well as signatures from the program. If changes must be made to the student’s course plan after he/she has advanced to candidacy, the graduate adviser must recommend these changes to Graduate Studies.  If the candidacy is approved, Graduate Studies will send a copy to the thesis committee chair (if applicable), the appropriate graduate staff person, and the student. If Graduate Studies determines that a student is not eligible for advancement, the graduate program and the student will be told the reasons for the application’s deferral. Some reasons for deferring an application include: grade point average below 3.0, outstanding I grades, a grade of U, a grade of D+ or below in required courses, or insufficient units.  A student must be registered to advance to candidacy.

Comprehensive Examination

Students participating in a Plan II program may take the comprehensive examination once they have advanced to candidacy. When they take the exam, students must be registered or on filing fee. The results of all examinations must be reported to Graduate Studies using the Master’s Exam Report Form in a timely manner. The graduate adviser’s signature on this form signifies that the student has completed all program requirements for the degree. A student’s name will not be placed on a degree list until the completed report form is returned to Graduate Studies.


Research for the master's thesis is to be carried out under the supervision of a faculty member of the program and must represent an original contribution to knowledge in the field. The thesis research must be conducted while the student is enrolled in the program. After the graduate adviser and major professor approve the thesis topic, the graduate adviser will nominate a thesis reading committee, and the Dean of Graduate Studies will appoint the committee via the Candidacy for the Master’s Degree - Thesis Plan I form.  The student will then write his/her thesis and submit it to the committee for review and approval in accordance with the program’s approved degree requirements. 

The thesis is to be submitted to the thesis committee at least one month before the student plans to make requested revisions. All committee members must approve the thesis and sign the title page (to certify their satisfaction with the thesis) before the thesis is submitted to Graduate Studies for final approval. 

The student is responsible for observing the filing dates and preparing the thesis according to the proper format.  Candidates must submit the thesis electronically, see instructions on how to submit a thesis.