Graduation Degree Requirements


All requirements for any advanced degrees to be awarded in a given degree-granting period (December, June, August) must be completed by the degree date. Your degree application signed by your Graduate Program Director is due in the Registrar’s Office by the published deadline on the Registrar's website. In addition, the $185 commencement fee in the form of a check or money order is due with the degree application.

The format guidelines for master's theses and doctoral dissertations contain information about the university's standard format for these requirements. This publication is available from each graduate program director, or from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

The doctoral degree is conferred on graduate students who have met the following requirements:

Successful completion of all courses and projects specified by the student's advisor or guidance committee within the guidelines of the candidate's graduate studies program and the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Satisfactory completion of the foreign language requirements of the candidate's graduate program.

Registration for the required number of dissertation credits (see "Graduate Grading Policy").

Passing a preliminary comprehensive or qualifying examination conducted by the program, or successfully completing a qualifying paper. Any student who fails the comprehensive examination may, at the discretion of the examining committee, be permitted a second and final examination. On successful completion of the preliminary examination the student will be admitted to candidacy.

As soon as the student has passed the preliminary comprehensive examination and has been admitted to candidacy, the graduate program director of the candidate's program shall recommend to the dean of Graduate Studies the names of at least three members of the faculty to serve as a working dissertation committee. At least two of the faculty so nominated shall be from the candidate's program.

Each dissertation committee must have one external member designated by the dean of Graduate Studies as the dean's representative. At the option of the program, the dean's representative may serve as a working member from the inception of the committee, or may participate only at the time of the defense. In either case, the dean's representative is a voting member of the committee and must sign the dissertation. Specific information is available from each program director.

Passing a final (at least partly oral) examination conducted by the dissertation committee. This examination shall be primarily concerned with, but not necessarily limited to, the candidate's dissertation. This examination shall be scheduled when all the dissertation committee members and the Office of Graduate Studies agree that the dissertation is sufficiently complete to undergo defense; approval of the dissertation, passing the defense, and/or recommending the degree are not implied by scheduling this examination.

It shall be the responsibility of the working dissertation committee to approve the dissertation project, to supervise its execution, and to arrange for the final examination of the student. All members of the committee must tentatively approve the dissertation before the final oral examination is scheduled, and agree that it is time for this examination to be held. Most programs require the student to deliver a public lecture on his or her research, usually on the day the final oral examination takes place. The final oral examination itself is attended by the candidate, the committee, and any invited guests. Only the committee members may vote, and the student can pass the final oral examination only with their unanimous approval. If, at the final examination, two members cast negative votes, the candidate will be informed that he or she has not passed the examination. If there is only one negative vote, the degree will be held up pending satisfactory resolution of the objections by the student and the dissenting member of the committee. Final program approval is represented by the signature of the graduate program director.

Documentation supplied by the graduate program director to the Office of Graduate Studies of each of the following stages in a doctoral student's progression. Those marked with an asterisk must be approved in writing by the dean of Graduate Studies:

Requirements for the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS)

CAGS programs provide professional development for educators beyond the master's degree level. All credits must be earned at the University, and candidates must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Students interested in pursuing the CAGS should contact the appropriate graduate program director.

Master's Degree Requirements

The basic requirements for the master's degree are given below. Students should consult the individual program descriptions for further requirements.

Each degree candidate must earn at least thirty graduate credits.

Each master's program will include as a graduation requirement a capstone experience that may consist of, but need not be limited to, a thesis, paper, written or oral comprehensive exam, or a seminar. In the case of the thesis option, the work will be evaluated by a committee of at least three members, two of whom must be UMass Boston faculty. In the case of other options, at least one faculty member other than the primary instructor must be involved in assessing the quality of the student's work.

Some programs require that the capstone be a thesis, which shall be under the supervision of a committee, comprising members recommended by the graduate program director and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The thesis shall follow the University's guidelines for thesis preparation, and shall require a formal defense. The thesis must be approved by all members of the committee, the graduate program director acting on behalf of the program, and the Dean of Graduate Studies. Students submitting a thesis may earn up to six credits through independent study, and up to ten credits through the thesis.

Some programs may require a general exam in addition to or instead of a capstone or thesis.

Foreign language requirements are determined by each master's degree program.

Course credits used by the student to fulfill the requirements for a master's degree may not be used by the student to fulfill the requirements for any other master's degree at this University.

The candidate must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all UMass Boston courses counting toward the degree.

Foreign Language Requirements

Each academic program establishes foreign language requirements for its own advanced degree candidates. The program determines both the number of foreign languages and the level of competency required. A foreign language is defined for this requirement as a language other than the candidate's native tongue, in which there is a significant body of literature relevant to his or her academic discipline. The term "foreign language" does not include computer languages.

For information about the College of Education and Human Development, visit their website.

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