The Master's Degree

The master's degree represents a well-balanced and unified program of study in an academic or professional discipline that enables the student to master the subject and develop faculties for critical thinking and independent research. Students may earn a master’s degree following one of two plans.

Academic Residence
Three quarters of academic residence are required for the master's degree. In addition, at least one quarter in full time registered status must elapse between advancement to candidacy and conferral of the degree.

Plan I (Thesis)
Thirty academic units and a thesis are required. A minimum of 12 units must be taken in 200 series courses in the major subject. Of these 12, only eight units of course work numbered 250 may be used toward the master's degree.

The following courses are graded only S/U: 220, 221, 250, 298, 299, and 300. (215 Lab Rotation may be approved as an exception.) In other 200 series courses, S/U grading may be offered as an option for graduate students.

A maximum of six units of course work for which S/U grading is elected may be used toward the unit requirements for a graduate degree.

The thesis constitutes the results of an original investigation of a problem. It should be carried out in the same systematic and scholarly way as investigations of greater magnitude, such as a doctoral dissertation. Students must either be registered or on filing fee for the quarter in which they submit their thesis.

Plan II (Comprehensive Examination)
Thirty-six academic units and a comprehensive examination are required. A minimum of 18 units must be taken in 200 series courses in the major subject. Of these 18, no more than 12 units numbered 250 may be applied toward the degree.

The following courses are graded only S/U: 220, 221, 250, 298, 299, and 300. (215 Lab Rotation may be approved as an exception.) In other 200 series courses, S/U grading may be offered as an option for graduate students.

A maximum of six units of course work for which S/U grading is elected may be used toward the unit requirements for a graduate degree.

The comprehensive examination should demonstrate the student's mastery of the major field and ability to think critically. The nature and matter of the examination are determined by the faculty of the degree program. Students must either be registered or on filing fee for the quarter in which they submit their comprehensive examination. A student who fails the comprehensive examination is allowed to take a second examination after a suitable period of additional preparation. A student who fails the comprehensive exam a second time is no longer eligible to receive the master's degree.

Advancement to Candidacy - MA/MS/SON MS
As of Fall 2019, advancement to candidacy is no longer required by the Graduate Division for master's students.  Please consult with your program if they wish to continue tracking this information internally.

See the full list of graduate programs, including master's degree programs.