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Information for Master's Degree Students

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7. Information for Master's Degree Students

7.1 Requirements for the Master's Degree

7.1.1 Graduate College Requirements

7.1.1.1 Course Credit Requirements
7.1.1.2 Obtaining a Master's Degree While Working on a Doctoral Degree

7.1.2 Transfer Credit Applied to the Master's Degree

7.1.2.1 Graduate College Guidelines for Transfer Credit Applied to the Master's Degree
7.1.2.2 Graduate College Limitations on Transfer Credit Applied to the Master's Degree
7.1.2.3 Transfer Credit from Oklahoma State University-Tulsa Applied to an OU-Tulsa Master's Degree
7.1.2.4 Transfer Credit from the OneNet Conferencing System
7.1.2.5 Transfer Credit from a Professional Degree Applied to a Master's Degree
7.1.2.6 Transfer Credit Completed in Absentia
7.1.2.7 Transfer Credit from Advanced Standing Exams
7.1.2.8 Transfer Credit and Grade Point Average Computation

7.1.3 OU Coursework Taken before Admission to a Master's Degree Program

7.1.3.1 Graduate College Guidelines for Residence Credit Taken before Admission to a Master's Degree Program

7.1.4 Course Credit Limitations

7.1.4.1 3000/4000 Level Courses
7.1.4.2 S/U Graded Coursework
7.1.4.3 Research for Master's Thesis Credit
7.1.4.4 Application of Credit from an Unsuccessful Master's Degree to Another Master's Degree
7.1.4.5 Application of Credit from an Unsuccessful Doctoral Degree to a Master's Degree

7.1.5 Time Limit for Completion of the Master's Degree

7.1.5.1 Extensions for Master's Degree Completion
7.1.5.2 Course Age Limits for the Master's Degree
7.1.5.3 Validating Overage Coursework to be Applied to a Master's Degree

7.1.6 Admission to Candidacy

7.1.6.1 Program of Study Form
7.1.6.2 Changes to the Program of Study Form

7.1 Requirements for the Master's Degree

  • The master’s degree requires the equivalent of at least two semesters of satisfactory graduate work and additional work as may be prescribed for the degree.
  • All coursework applied to the master’s degree must carry graduate credit.
  • The minimum number of hours required for a master’s degree program is established by the academic unit offering the program and is subject to approval of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
    • Master’s degree programs which require a thesis consist of at least 30 credit hours. Whether a thesis is required is determined by the Graduate Council on request from the academic unit offering the degree.
    • All non-thesis master’s degree programs require at least 32 credit hours.
    • The minimum hour requirement for a specific master’s degree program cannot be waived.

7.1.1.1 Course Credit Requirements

  • All resident credit applied to a master’s degree must be taught by members of the graduate faculty of the University of Oklahoma.
  • Credit transferred from other institutions must meet specific criteria and is subject to certain limitations (see Transfer Credit Applied to the Master’s Degree).
  • Courses completed through correspondence study may not be applied to the master’s degree.

7.1.1.2 Obtaining a Master's Degree While Working on a Doctoral Degree

  • Students may not simultaneously pursue graduate degrees in separate majors without prior approval of both academic units involved and the dean of the Graduate College.
  • The Graduate College will not grant an additional master’s degree in the same field in which an individual has previously received a master’s degree.
  • Students working on a doctoral degree who have not previously received a master’s degree in the same field may be admitted to candidacy for the master’s degree provided they meet the following requirements:
    • Apply for admission to the master’s program by completing the online Addition or Change of Program application by the appropriate deadline:
      • no later than the semester before defending the thesis or attempting the non-thesis examination, for a master’s degree to be awarded on the basis of a thesis defense and/or non-thesis examination
      • the semester before taking the doctoral general examination, for a master’s degree to be awarded on the basis of the general examination.
    • Submit the Program of Study form to the Graduate College by the appropriate deadline (see Admission to Candidacy).
    • Meet all requirements of the academic unit offering the master’s degree.
    • Apply for graduation by the required deadline (see Application for Graduation).
  • If the master’s degree requires a thesis, the degree cannot be awarded on the basis of the doctoral general examination.

Transfer credit applied to a master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma is subject to limitations and must meet criteria established by the Office of Graduate Admissions, the academic unit offering the degree, and the Graduate College. Academic units may set more stringent rules for transfer credit, which must be identified in the section of the University of Oklahoma General Catalog describing the academic unit’s graduate programs.

7.1.2.1 Graduate College Guidelines for Transfer Credit Applied to the Master's Degree

Transfer credit must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Official transcripts must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions for verification that the coursework transferred represents valid graduate credit earned in graduate-level courses from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • The credit was not previously applied to a completed bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.
  • The credit is not more than five years old at the time of admission or readmission to the University of Oklahoma graduate degree program.
  • The credit is applicable to the degree.
  • The credit carries a grade of A, B, or S on a 4.0 scale. The S grade must be equivalent to a B or higher. For institutions with an expanded grading system (+/- system), the grade must be equivalent to 3.0 or higher. Transfer credit carrying a grade of B-minus, P, or CR cannot be applied to a graduate degree.
  • The credit is approved by the academic unit, which may have more stringent requirements than those of the Graduate College.
  • The credit is approved by the dean of the Graduate College.

7.1.2.2 Graduate College Limitations on Transfer Credit Applied to the Master's Degree

  • When combined, hours transferred from other institutions and residence credit taken before admission to a graduate degree program may not constitute more than 12 credit hours.
  • Credit transferred from other institutions may not be double-counted for a dual master’s degree.
  • The academic unit may have more stringent limitations than those of the Graduate College. These limitations must be identified in the General Catalog and will take precedence over those found elsewhere.

7.1.2.3 Transfer Credit from Oklahoma State University-Tulsa Applied to an OU-Tulsa Master's Degree

A list of master’s degree programs offered by OU in Tulsa is available on the OU-Tulsa website.

  • In no case may more than 15 hours from OSU-Tulsa be applied to a graduate degree earned at OU-Tulsa.
  • Coursework transferred from OSU-Tulsa must meet all other requirements for transfer credit set by the Graduate College and the academic unit.

7.1.2.4 Transfer Credit from the OneNet Conferencing System

  • An exception to the 12-hour limit on transfer credit applied to a master’s degree is made for courses taken through the OneNet two-way video conferencing system.
  • Up to 50 percent of the credit hour requirements for a master’s degree may be transferred from Oklahoma State University if the courses were taken via OneNet.
  • Residence credit is granted for graduate-level coursework taken via OneNet when taught by a member of the University of Oklahoma graduate faculty.

7.1.2.5 Transfer Credit from a Professional Degree Applied to a Master's Degree

Graduate-level coursework applied to a professional degree (e.g., D.D., M.D., J.D., D.V.M., D.D.S.) may be applied to a master’s degree, provided that the coursework carries graduate credit and meets all other requirements for transfer credit set by the Graduate College and the academic unit offering the master’s degree.

7.1.2.6 Transfer Credit Completed in Absentia

Courses and fieldwork completed in absentia may be transferred in rare cases upon recommendation of the academic unit and with approval of the dean of the Graduate College.

7.1.2.7 Transfer Credit from Advanced Standing Exams

No graduate credit may be earned by advanced standing examinations.

7.1.2.8 Transfer Credit and Grade Point Average Computation

Transfer credit is considered neutral in the computation of the University of Oklahoma grade point averages used to determine satisfactory academic progress.

7.1.3.1 Graduate College Guidelines for Residence Credit Taken before Admission to a Master's Degree Program

  • Residence credit taken before admission to the OU master’s degree program must meet the guidelines for transfer credit (see Graduate College Guidelines for Transfer Credit Applied to the Master’s Degree). Note that residence credit approved to apply to a master’s degree is included in the calculation of grade point averages used to determine eligibility for graduation.
  • Residence credit taken before admission to an OU master’s degree program may include:
    • graduate coursework completed while in a non-degree-seeking status at OU
    • graduate coursework completed while pursuing a previous OU graduate degree (but which was not applied to that degree)
    • coursework completed during the junior/senior years of the OU undergraduate degree and approved to carry graduate credit
    • graduate coursework completed at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
  • Credit previously applied to an OU degree cannot be applied to a second OU degree, except in the case of an approved accelerated degree program (see Accelerated Bachelor’s/Masters Degrees).
  • When combined, hours transferred from other institutions and residence credit taken before admission to a graduate degree program may not constitute more than 12 credit hours. 

7.1.4.1 3000/4000 Level Courses

  • With approval of the academic unit offering the degree, a student may apply up to a total of 12 credit hours of 3000-level and/or 4000-level courses that carry graduate credit to a master’s degree requiring 36 or fewer hours.
  • For any master’s degree requiring more than 36 credit hours, a student may apply up to one-third of the total credit hours required for the degree, but no more than 15 credit hours of 3000-level and/or 4000-level courses to the degree.
  • No more than three-fourths of the credit hours of 4000-level courses permitted by the Graduate College may be from the academic unit offering the degree (e.g., nine hours on a master’s degree requiring 36 or fewer hours).
  • No 3000-level courses from the academic unit offering the degree may apply to any of its graduate degrees.

7.1.4.2 S/U Graded Coursework

For coursework applied to an OU master’s degree:

  • No more than one-half of the credits for OU coursework, excluding Research for Master’s Thesis (5980), may be S/U-graded coursework.
  • No more than one-half of the overall coursework (OU credit and transfer credit combined), excluding 5980, may be S/U graded-coursework.

7.1.4.3 Research for Master's Thesis Credit

  • Within the limit of six credit hours, each academic unit must set the number of credit hours of Research for Master’s Thesis (5980) that may be applied to the master’s degree.
  • Each academic unit must inform the Graduate College of its limits.
  • Research for Master’s Thesis (5980) may not be applied to a non-thesis master’s degree, nor may it be applied to the dissertation research requirement for a doctoral degree.

7.1.4.4 Application of Credit from an Unsuccessful Master's Degree to Another Master's Degree

  • A student who has failed the non-thesis examination for the second time or failed the thesis defense may seek admission to another master’s degree program at the University of Oklahoma.
  • To apply courses taken during an unsuccessful master’s degree program to another master’s degree program:
    • The student must gain admission to the new program.
    • The student must have the permission of the academic unit offering the new program and the dean of the Graduate College.
    • The courses must be applicable to the new program.
  • No more than 12 hours of coursework taken before failing the non-thesis examination for the second time or failing the thesis defense may be applied to another master’s degree.

7.1.4.5 Application of Credit from an Unsuccessful Doctoral Degree to a Master's Degree

  • Credit from an unsuccessful doctoral degree may be applied to a master’s degree with approval of the academic unit offering the master’s degree and the dean of the Graduate College, provided that the credit meets all other guidelines and limitations set by the Graduate College and the academic unit.
  • Courses taken before failing the doctoral general examination for the second time may constitute no more than one-half of the credit hours required for the master’s degree.
  • A master’s student must complete all of the degree requirements within five calendar years of the first enrollment in any graduate-level OU course to be applied to the master’s degree.
  • Academic units may set shorter time limits for degree completion, which must be identified in the section of the University of Oklahoma General Catalog describing their graduate programs. Students in these programs are subject to the shorter time limit.
  • No program may set a longer time limit for degree completion than that established by the Graduate College.

7.1.5.1 Extensions for Master's Degree Completion

  • If an academic unit determines that additional time is needed for a student to complete the degree, the student’s committee should request that the dean of the Graduate College approve an extension.
  • The written request for extension should explain why additional time is necessary and specify when the student is expected to complete all degree requirements. The request also must be endorsed by the graduate liaison and the student’s committee chair.
  • A student who is granted an extension remains subject to the guidelines indicated below in the section on Course Age Limits for the Master’s Degree.

7.1.5.2 Course Age Limits for the Master's Degree

  • Graduate credit applied to a master’s degree cannot be more than five years old at the time of admission or readmission to the Graduate College.
  • Credit that is older than five years at the time of graduation is considered to be overage credit. No more than 25 percent of the total credit hours required for the master’s degree can be more than five years old at the time of graduation. Overage transfer credit cannot be applied to the master’s degree.

7.1.5.3 Validating Overage Coursework to be Applied to a Master's Degree

  • When a student wishes to apply overage coursework beyond the allowed limit of 25 percent of the total credit hours required for the master’s degree, the excess overage coursework cannot be applied to the master’s degree unless it is validated. Potential validation of overage coursework is subject to the discretion of the academic unit and faculty involved; it may not be possible to validate a course which is no longer offered.
  • The following types of overage coursework cannot be validated:
    • transfer credit
    • individualized courses such as directed readings, special topics, or independent studies
    • coursework for which a grade lower than B was earned.
  • Validation of overage coursework requires the approval of the dean of the Graduate College. To request approval to proceed with validation of an overage course, the student’s academic unit should submit a request that outlines a detailed, concrete plan for evaluating the course content and the student’s knowledge.
    • Each course must be validated by a faculty member, usually the original course instructor or current course instructor.
    • If the content that was covered in the overage course is different from the content that is now covered in the course as it is currently offered, the plan must address how the student will demonstrate mastery of the knowledge covered in the current course.
  • If the request for validation is approved by the dean of the Graduate College, the academic unit may proceed with the validation process.
  • After an evaluation has been conducted for an overage course, the academic unit must submit a report of the results to the dean of the Graduate College.
  • Overage coursework is not fully validated until the academic unit’s report is received and approved by the dean of the Graduate College.

A student must be admitted to candidacy before scheduling the non-thesis examination and/or the thesis defense. Final authority for admission to candidacy rests with the dean of the Graduate College.

7.1.6.1 Program of Study Form

  • A Program of Study form must be submitted to the Graduate College no later than the first Monday in April for fall graduates, the first Monday in October for spring graduates, or the first Monday in March for summer graduates.
    • Academic units may require earlier submission of this form.
    • Students eligible to receive VA Educational Benefits will need to submit this form before coursework can be certified as eligible for coverage.
  • Only those graduate-level courses needed to complete the requirements of the degree should be listed on the Program of Study form.
    • If graduate-level courses are listed in excess of those required for the degree, they will be considered part of the degree program. This can create problems for students who plan to apply the excess courses to a second master’s degree.
    • Qualified graduate assistants who list coursework beyond the minimum number of hours required for the degree will incur tuition charges for the extra hours.
  • Students pursuing a dual degree must file the Program of Study form for each program in the Graduate College simultaneously. All forms must be approved by the Graduate College before the student will be authorized to begin the non-thesis examination or thesis defense for either program.

7.1.6.2 Changes to the Program of Study Form

  • Changes to the Program of Study form must be submitted in writing to the Graduate College and endorsed by the graduate liaison of the student’s academic unit.
  • The student should contact the graduate liaison to request approval for the changes before enrolling in coursework that is not listed on the program of study.
  • Failure to follow this procedure could delay a student’s thesis defense, non-thesis examination, and/or graduation.

7.2 Master's Degree with Thesis

A master’s thesis is the product of individual research. It should represent an original contribution to the academic field of knowledge, and it must represent original research by the student.

  • The committee must consist of a committee chair and at least two other members of the graduate faculty.
  • The committee chair must hold an M1, M2, M3, RM3, or RM4 graduate faculty appointment through the student’s academic unit.
    • Only one individual may be formally designated as the committee chair on the Master’s Thesis Topic and Committee Membership form. This committee member will be responsible for all chair functions and will sign master’s degree paperwork as the committee chair. However, more than one committee chair may be identified as “Co-Chair” on the committee page of the final thesis.
    • The chair serves as the student’s primary advisor for all areas of the master’s program coursework and the thesis. The chair, along with the other committee members, is responsible for ensuring that the thesis meets the standards of the university, the student’s program, and the field of study.
  • A majority of the committee members must hold an M1, M2, M3, RM1, RM2, RM3, or RM4 graduate faculty appointment through the student’s academic unit.
  • Special members of the graduate faculty may not, under any circumstances, serve as the chair of a master’s committee or make up the majority of the committee membership.
  • The dean of the Graduate College must approve the committee membership. In rare circumstances, the dean may appoint additional members to a student’s committee.
  • If a student wishes to make changes to the thesis committee membership, they must submit the online Request for Change in Committee form.
    • This form requires approval from all committee members, including those being removed, with the exception of anyone no longer associated with the University of Oklahoma.
    • If a faculty member on leave will not be available during their absence, the academic unit chair/director will have authority, with approval of the dean of the Graduate College, to act for them on these changes.
  • No change in committee membership is permitted 14 calendar days before the thesis defense.

Students whose thesis research may involve any of the following should promptly contact the appropriate office for advice:

Students whose thesis research may involve any of the following should review the “Research Issues” section of the Graduate College Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet with their committee chair as early as possible in the research process, and inform their Graduate College counselor of the potential need for an embargo of their thesis.

  • Information that is protected from dissemination by applicable law or by contract: Review the “Research Holds and IP Holds” section of the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet. Theses may not contain material that requires permanent restriction from publication.
  • Intellectual property that may potentially be patentable: Review the “Disclosure of Patentable Inventions” section of the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet.

7.2.4.1 Enrollment Requirements for Thesis Research

  • A student who is working on the thesis during a regular semester or summer session must enroll in at least two hours of 5980, regardless of the total number of hours in which the student is enrolled.
  • The number of credit hours for each enrollment in 5980 will be determined by the student’s committee chair on the basis of the amount of faculty and university services required by the student during that enrollment.
  • Students are required to enroll in 5980 during the summer session if any of the following apply:
    • The student is actively working on the thesis during summer.
    • The student is seeking committee advice on the thesis during summer.
    • The student is otherwise using university facilities during summer and has previously enrolled in 5980.
    • The degree will be conferred in the summer session.
  • After the first enrollment in 5980, the student must maintain continuous enrollment in at least two hours of 5980 during each fall and spring semester until all degree requirements are completed.
    • The continuous enrollment requirement will be waived only for a student who is not working on the thesis and who is enrolled in at least nine graduate credit hours during a regular semester.
    • If a student has not maintained continuous enrollment in master’s thesis hours, the student must retroactively enroll in the number of hours of 5980 for each semester that would have been completed with continuous enrollment.
    • The student must pay a late enrollment fee for each semester that would have been completed with continuous enrollment. Retroactive fees and tuition are assessed at the current semester rates. The collection of the appropriate fees is the responsibility of the Office of the Registrar and Bursar Services.
  • A student must be admitted to candidacy by the Graduate College before scheduling the thesis defense. The Program of Study form must be up to date. Any changes to this form must be approved by the Graduate College before the defense can be authorized. (See Changes to the Program of Study Form.)
  • A student must be in good academic standing during the semester the thesis defense is scheduled. A student who is on probation may not schedule the thesis defense until probationary status has been cleared.
  • A student must submit the Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College and receive authority before defending the thesis. The result of an unauthorized thesis defense will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • Only one attempt to defend the thesis is permitted. If the defense is unsatisfactory, it cannot be repeated.
  • A student must be enrolled in at least two credit hours of 5980 at the University of Oklahoma during the semester of the thesis defense.

7.2.5.1 Thesis Draft

  • Before scheduling the thesis defense, the student is responsible for providing every member of the thesis committee with a complete draft of the thesis. Formatting requirements are explained in the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet.
  • The thesis committee will determine how far in advance the student should provide the draft to all committee members. This time limit should allow the committee sufficient time to review the thesis and approve any major revisions required before the deadline for submitting the Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College. This form is due ten working days before the defense.

7.2.5.2 Scheduling the Thesis Defense

The date, time, and location of the thesis defense must be scheduled according to the following requirements:

  • The student, the committee chair, and one other member at minimum must be physically present at the same location.
  • The defense should be held before the deadline indicated on the Academic Calendar. The defense may not be held during the period of final course examinations, nor may it be held while the university is not in session.
  • The defense is open to the public, unless closed by prior approval of the Office of Technology Commercialization under the University Intellectual Property Policy.  

7.2.5.3 Video or Telephone Participation in the Thesis Defense

Advances in electronic media have made it possible for meetings to be held without the presence of every member at the same location. Nevertheless, the integrity and significance of the oral examination process must not be compromised by the absence of a sound committee. The following rules apply to oral examinations and thesis defenses in master’s programs:

  • The student, the committee chair, and at least one other member must be physically present at the same location.
  • Other members of the committee may participate remotely via audio or video conference. All committee members must participate in the defense.
  • The Graduate College must be notified of remote participation before the defense in order to make arrangements for signature acceptance.
  • Copies or electronic signatures of committee members who have been approved to participate remotely will be accepted on the Authority Report Form for the Thesis Defense.

7.2.5.4 Degree Check

The student must complete the online Request for Degree Check form at least four weeks before the defense (i.e., 10 working days before submitting the Request for Authority to Defend to the Graduate College). The Graduate College will notify the student of the result of the degree check via OU email.

7.2.5.5 Authority for the Thesis Defense

  • The student must submit the online Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College at least 10 working days before the defense.
  • If the request for authority can be approved, the Graduate College will issue the Authority Report Form for the Thesis Defense to the student, the thesis committee, and the graduate liaison via OU email. The student may not defend until this form has been issued. The result of an unauthorized defense will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • The Authority Report Form is valid only for the period indicated on the form.
    • If the defense is not held during this period, the graduate liaison or committee chair must notify the Graduate College in writing as to why the defense was not held and the form must be returned marked “Not Taken.”
    • The thesis defense must then be rescheduled for a future term and the student must submit a new Request for Authority to Defend form.

7.2.5.6 Result of the Thesis Defense

  • After the thesis defense, the committee will report its decision on the Authority Report Form for the Thesis Defense by indicating a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” result. This completed form, including original signatures from all committee members, must be received in the Graduate College within 72 hours of the thesis defense.
  • In the event that the committee does not reach a unanimous decision:
    • The committee member(s) who dissent from the majority opinion should not sign the Authority Report Form, but should instead attach a memo explaining the rationale for the dissent.
    • If the committee consists of three members and one committee member dissents, the dissent is recognized as a minority report.
    • If the committee consists of more than three members and two dissent, then the dean of the Graduate College will investigate and make a final decision.
    • If more than two committee members vote “unsatisfactory,” the thesis defense will be judged unsatisfactory. 

7.2.5.7 Unsatisfactory Result and Dismissal

7.2.5.8 Satisfactory Result and Thesis Submission

  • After a satisfactory thesis defense, the student must complete any revisions required by the committee before submitting the final thesis to the SHAREOK repository. Submission instructions are provided by the Graduate College in the email authorizing the thesis defense.
  • The final thesis is due within 60 calendar days of the defense. A student planning to graduate in a given semester may need to submit the final document sooner in order to meet the graduation deadline for that semester indicated on the Academic Calendar.
  • A student who does not submit the final thesis during the semester of the defense must enroll in at least two hours of 5980 during the semester in which the thesis is submitted.
  • The semester in which the thesis is submitted will be the semester of graduation if all other outstanding requirements for the degree have been completed.
  • Before submitting the final thesis to SHAREOK, the student must submit the Approval for Thesis/Dissertation Submission to SHAREOK form to the Graduate College. SHAREOK submissions completed prior to full committee approval will be rejected.
  • If the thesis involves human subjects research, the student must also submit additional documentation from the IRB to the Graduate College before submitting the final thesis to SHAREOK.
  • The final thesis submitted to SHAREOK must meet all formatting requirements explained in the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet. Submissions that contain formatting errors will be rejected.

7.2.5.9 Failure to Submit the Thesis

  • A student may not graduate until all degree requirements, including the final thesis submission, have been completed.
  • If the thesis submission is not completed within 60 calendar days of the satisfactory defense, the result of the defense will be set aside and the student will need to repeat the defense.
  • A student required to repeat the thesis defense under these circumstances will need to repeat the processes described in the Thesis Defense section of this bulletin, including submission of a new Request for Authority to Defend form.

7.3 Master's Degree, Non-Thesis

Students in non-thesis master’s degree programs are required to complete a non-thesis examination to demonstrate mastery of their academic field of study, except in programs where this requirement has specifically been waived by the Graduate Council. This examination is comprehensive in the sense that it should cover all work offered for the degree (with respect to areas of knowledge, not specific courses). The non-thesis examination may be oral, written, or both. For certain programs, the non-thesis examination involves a project to be completed during enrollment in Graduate Project (5880).

Work completed for the non-thesis examination should be the result of the student’s individual effort. Graduate students must uphold the highest standards of academic integrity. It is the responsibility of each student to be familiar with the definitions, policies, and procedures concerning academic misconduct. These are explained in A Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at the University of Oklahoma.

  • The non-thesis examination is one of the requirements of a non-thesis program and cannot be waived.
  • A student must be admitted to candidacy by the Graduate College before scheduling the non-thesis examination. The Program of Study form must be up to date. Any changes to this form must be approved by the Graduate College before the exam can be authorized. (See Changes to the Program of Study Form.)
  • A student must be in good academic standing during the semester the non-thesis examination is scheduled. A student who is on probation may not schedule the exam until probationary status has been cleared.
  • Because the non-thesis examination is comprehensive, a student should complete all required or core courses and at least 75 percent of all coursework listed on the approved Program of Study form before taking the exam.
  • The graduate liaison must request authority from the Graduate College before the non-thesis examination is administered. The result of an unauthorized exam will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • The non-thesis examination should be held before the deadline indicated on the Academic Calendar. The exam may not be held during the period of final course examinations, nor may it be held while the university is not in session.
  • A student who does not pass the non-thesis examination on the first attempt may, at the discretion of the committee, attempt the exam a second time. The academic unit must administer a new exam for the student's second attempt. No more than two attempts to pass the non-thesis examination are permitted.
  • The satisfactory result of a non-thesis examination remains valid for two years from the end of the semester in which the exam was completed.

7.3.1.1 Enrollment Requirements for the Non-Thesis Examination

  • A student must enroll in at least two graduate credit hours at the University of Oklahoma in the semester in which the non-thesis examination is taken.
  • Failure to maintain enrollment for the entire semester will invalidate a satisfactory result of the examination.
  • With the approval of the academic unit and the dean of the Graduate College, a student may enroll in these two hours as an auditor. However, a student in a program that requires enrollment in Graduate Project (5880) must enroll for credit.   

7.3.1.2 Enrollment Requirements for Project Research

The following requirements apply to students in degree programs that require enrollment in Graduate Project (5880):

  • A student who is working on the non-thesis project during a regular semester or summer session must enroll in at least two hours of 5880, regardless of the total number of hours in which the student is enrolled.
  • The number of project credit hours for each enrollment in 5880 will be determined by the student’s committee chair on the basis of the amount of faculty and university services required by the student during that enrollment.
  • Students are required to enroll in 5880 during the summer session if any of the following apply:
    • The student is actively working on the project during summer.
    • The student is seeking committee advice on the project during summer.
    • The student is otherwise using university facilities during summer and has previously enrolled in 5880.
    • The degree is conferred in the summer session.
  • After the first enrollment in 5880, the student must maintain continuous enrollment in at least two hours of 5880 during each fall and spring semester until all degree requirements are completed.
  • The continuous enrollment requirement will be waived only for a student who is not working on the project and who is enrolled in at least nine graduate credit hours during a regular semester.
  • If a student has not maintained continuous enrollment in project hours, the student must enroll in the number of hours of 5880 for each semester that would have been completed with the continuous enrollment.
    • The student must pay a late enrollment fee for each semester that would have been completed with continuous enrollment. Retroactive fees and tuition are assessed at the current semester rates. The collection of the appropriate fees is the responsibility of the Office of the Registrar and Bursar Services.

7.3.1.3 Non-Thesis Examination Committee Selection

  • The committee must consist of a committee chair and at least two other members of the graduate faculty.
  • The committee chair must hold an M1, M2, M3, RM2, RM3, or RM4 graduate faculty appointment through the student’s academic unit.
  • A majority of the committee members must hold an M1, M2, M3, RM1, RM2, RM3, or RM4 graduate faculty appointment through the student’s academic unit.
  • Special members of the graduate faculty may not, under any circumstances, serve as the chair of a master’s committee or make up the majority of the committee membership.
  • The dean of the Graduate College must approve the committee membership. In rare circumstances, the dean may appoint additional members to a student’s committee.

7.3.1.4 Video or Telephone Participation in the Non-Thesis Examination

Advances in electronic media have made it possible for meetings to be held without the presence of every member at the same location. Nevertheless, the integrity and significance of the oral examination process must not be compromised by the absence of a sound committee. The following rules apply for non-thesis examinations in master’s programs if oral presentation is involved:

  • The student, the committee chair and at least one other member must be physically present at the same location.
  • Other members of the committee may participate remotely via audio or video conference.  All committee members must participate in the non-thesis examination.
  • The Graduate College must be notified of remote participation prior to the examination in order to make arrangements for signature acceptance.
  • Copies or electronic signatures of committee members who have been approved to participate remotely will be accepted on the Authority Report Form for the Non-Thesis Exam.

7.3.1.5 Authority for the Non-Thesis Examination

  • The graduate liaison must request authority from the Graduate College before a non-thesis examination is administered.
    • The request must be made in writing at least five working days before the examination.
    • Requests for more than five students should be submitted at least 15 working days before the examination. Certain programs in which the non-thesis exam is completed in conjunction with a required course should contact the Graduate College within the first two weeks of the course to request authority for all students who are attempting the non-thesis exam.
    • The request should indicate the name and OU ID number of each student, the date and the time of the exam, and the names of the committee members. The committee chair should be clearly identified.
    • No changes to the committee membership will be approved after the Graduate College has authorized the exam.
  • A student who has not completed all required or core courses and at least 75 percent of all coursework listed on the approved Program of Study form is not normally granted authority to take the non-thesis examination.
  • If the request for authority is approved, the Graduate College will issue the Authority Report Form for the Non-Thesis Exam to the committee and the graduate liaison via OU email. A student should not take the exam until this form has been issued. The result of an unauthorized exam will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • The Authority Report Form is valid only for the period indicated on the form.
    • If the examination is not taken during this period, the graduate liaison or committee chair must notify the Graduate College in writing as to why the exam was not taken and the form must be returned marked “Not Taken.”
    • The exam must then be rescheduled for a future term and the graduate liaison must submit a new request for authority.

7.3.1.6 Result of the Non-Thesis Examination

  • The committee should grade the non-thesis examination and report the results to the Graduate College within four weeks after the student has completed the examination. The committee will report its decision on the Authority Report Form for the Non-Thesis Exam by indicating a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” result. This completed form, including original signatures from all committee members, must be received in the Graduate College within one week of the decision or by the end of the semester (whichever occurs first).
  • If the committee does not reach a unanimous decision:
    • The committee member(s) who dissent from the majority opinion should not sign the Authority Report Form, but should instead attach a memo explaining the rationale for the dissent.
    • If the committee consists of three members and one committee member dissents, the dissent is recognized as a minority report.
    • If the committee consists of more than three members and two dissent, then the dean of the Graduate College will investigate and make a final decision.
    • If more than two committee members vote “unsatisfactory,” the examination will be judged unsatisfactory.

7.3.1.7 Unsatisfactory Result of the Non-Thesis Examination

  • A student cannot appeal an unsatisfactory result of the non-thesis examination on the basis that they had not completed all required or core courses and at least 75 percent of all coursework listed on the approved Program of Study form before taking the exam.
  • A student who has failed the first attempt of the non-thesis examination may, at the discretion of the committee, attempt the exam a second time. The academic unit must administer a new exam for the student’s second attempt.
  • The non-thesis examination may not be attempted a third time.
  • A student who has failed the second attempt of the non-thesis examination will be dismissed from the graduate program.
  • A dismissed student who wishes to apply to a graduate program in another major field should refer to the Academic Dismissal and Application of Credit from an Unsuccessful Master’s Degree to Another Master’s Degree sections of this bulletin. No credit hours from an unsuccessful master’s degree program may be applied to a doctoral degree.

7.4 Master's Degree with Thesis and Non-Thesis Examination

Some master’s degree programs require both a thesis defense and a separate non-thesis examination. Students in these programs will follow Graduate College and university regulations regarding both the defense and the non-thesis examination.

7.5 Non-Thesis Master's Degree without Examination

With the approval of the Graduate Council, some non-thesis master’s degree programs may be coursework-only degrees, not requiring the non-thesis examination. Degree programs in this category will primarily be programs where the skills developed through successful completion of advanced coursework prepare master’s graduates for their profession, and distinguish them from those without advanced degrees. Typically, these programs will be in fields where there is a significant, demonstrated precedent of coursework-only master’s degrees, and will be structured such that there is a cumulative development of mastery that doesn’t require secondary validation. In some cases, programs will be designed to follow guidelines outlined by accrediting organizations or other professional bodies, or will be in fields that require additional external licensing to practice. With the exception of the non-thesis examination, all other Graduate College and university regulations regarding master’s degree programs will apply to these programs (see Requirements for the Master’s Degree above).

7.6 Degree Completion and Graduation

  • Students must apply for graduation online at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to graduate, according to the deadlines indicated on the Academic Calendar.
  • A student may not graduate until all degree requirements are completed, including the application for graduation.
  • A student will graduate during the semester in which all degree requirements are completed.
  • Students will become inactive after graduation and may not continue enrolling at the university unless they are admitted to a new program or non-degree seeking status.
  • Students who wish to participate in the annual university-wide Commencement ceremony or individual College Convocation ceremonies should contact the Graduation Office.

7.7 Checklist for Thesis Master's Degree Students

Planning Your Program of Study and Forming a Thesis Committee

  • File for candidacy by completing and submitting the Program of Study and the Master’s Thesis Topic and Committee Membership form to the Graduate College. These forms are due no later than the first Monday in April for fall graduation, the first Monday in October for spring graduation, or the first Monday in March for summer graduation.
    • You should consult your academic unit before completing these forms, since your program may set earlier deadlines.
    • If you are eligible to receive VA Educational Benefits, you will need to submit the Program of Study form before coursework can be certified as eligible for coverage.

Beginning Thesis Research

  • Once you begin enrolling in Research for Master’s Thesis (5980), you must enroll in a minimum of two credit hours of 5980 each fall and spring semester until all degree requirements are completed. (Summer enrollment also is required if you are working on the thesis during summer; see Enrollment Requirements for Thesis Research).
  • Before you begin writing the thesis, review the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet. This packet contains important information about research-related issues and copyright, and explains the Graduate College formatting requirements for master’s theses. If your thesis research may involve human subjects research, vertebrate animal research, information that is protected from dissemination by applicable law or contract, or intellectual property that may potentially be patentable, you should discuss this with your committee chair as early as possible in the research process.

Preparing to Graduate

  • At the beginning of the semester you plan to graduate, apply for graduation online according to the deadlines indicated on the Academic Calendar. Contact the Graduation Office for information about attending college convocation ceremonies and May Commencement.
  • If there are any changes to the coursework listed on your approved Program of Study form, contact your academic unit promptly and submit a new form. Changes must be endorsed by your graduate liaison and submitted in writing to the Graduate College. Your graduation could be delayed if the Graduate College is not notified of changes to your program of study.
  • Before scheduling your thesis defense, provide each member of your committee with a complete draft of your thesis (see Thesis Draft). Your committee will determine how far in advance you should provide the draft. The committee should have sufficient time to review the draft and approve any major revisions required before you submit the Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College.

Before Your Defense

  • At least four weeks before your defense, submit the online Request for Degree Check to the Graduate College. Include any required attachments (if applicable) from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The Graduate College will notify you of the result of the degree check via OU email.
  • At least ten working days before your defense, submit the Request for Authority to Defend and any required attachments (if applicable) from the IRB or IACUC. After your request for authority is approved, the Graduate College will email the Authority Report Form for the Thesis Defense to you, your committee, and your graduate liaison. You are not authorized to defend your thesis until you receive the Authority Report Form.

After Your Defense

  • No later than 72 hours after the defense, submit the completed Authority Report Form, including original signatures from all committee members, to the Graduate College.
  • If your thesis involves human subjects research, contact the IRB office to obtain documentation confirming that your involvement as a graduate student in the research project is officially terminated. You will need to submit this additional documentation to the Graduate College before you submit the thesis to SHAREOK.
  • After your committee has approved your final thesis, submit the Approval for Thesis/Dissertation Submission to SHAREOK form to the Graduate College.
  • Submit your thesis to the SHAREOK institutional repository, according to the instructions you received in the Graduate College email authorizing your defense. Your submission is due no later than 60 calendar days after your defense. If you plan to graduate in a particular semester, you must meet the semester submission deadline given on the Academic Calendar, usually the last day of the final examination period.

Congratulations!

7.8 Checklist for Non-Thesis Master's Degree Students

Planning Your Program of Study

  • File for candidacy by completing and submitting the Program of Study to the Graduate College. This form is due no later than the first Monday in April for fall graduation, the first Monday in October for spring graduation, or the first Monday in March for summer graduation.
    • You should consult your academic unit before completing this form, since your program may set earlier deadlines.
    • If you are eligible to receive VA Educational Benefits, you will need to submit the Program of Study form before coursework can be certified as eligible for coverage.

Preparing to Graduate

  • At the beginning of the semester you plan to graduate, apply for graduation online according to the deadlines indicated on the Academic Calendar. Contact the Graduation Office for information about attending college convocation ceremonies and May Commencement.
  • If there are any changes to the coursework listed on your approved Program of Study form, contact your academic unit promptly and submit a new form. Changes must be endorsed by your graduate liaison and submitted in writing to the Graduate College. Your graduation could be delayed if the Graduate College is not notified of changes to your program of study.

Preparing for the Non-Thesis Examination*

  • Review the Non-Thesis Instruction Packet and contact your academic unit for information about what procedures you should follow to schedule your non-thesis (comprehensive) examination.
    • You should complete all required or core courses and at least 75 percent of all coursework on your approved program of study before taking the exam. A student cannot appeal an unsatisfactory result of the exam on the basis that they had not completed this coursework.
    • Work completed for the non-thesis examination should be the result of your individual effort. All graduate students should be familiar with A Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at the University of Oklahoma.
  • The graduate liaison of your academic unit must request and obtain the appropriate authority from the Graduate College before you may begin the non-thesis examination. After the request for authority is approved, the Graduate College will email the Authority Report Form for the Non-Thesis Exam to the committee and graduate liaison.
  • The completed Authority Report Form, including original signatures from all committee members, is due in the Graduate College within one week of the committee’s decision.

Congratulations!

 

*If your degree program is coursework-only and does not require a non-thesis examination, these steps do not apply.