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Master's Degree Requirements

Master's Degree Requirements

Students Continuing on to a Doctoral Program


An entering graduate student should meet with the departmental graduate coordinator as soon as possible after arrival on campus.  The coordinator will: 

  1. Help design and then approve the student's complete program leading to the master's degree. 
  2. Recommend course credits from within and outside the University for transfer into the student's degree program. 
  3. Monitor the student's progress toward the degree, which must be completed within a five-year time period in most programs (See Time for Limit for Degree Completion).

GeneralRequirementsGeneral Requirements for the Master's Degree

To be recommended for a master’s degree, a candidate must satisfy all requirements of the University and the specific requirements of the department in which he or she is enrolled. The requirements of the University are listed below, and the specific requirements established by the various departments may be found in the section describing the particular programs.

A candidate for the master's degree must complete the following within five years of matriculation in order to receive the degree: (Note: Master's degrees which require 45 or more credits have a limit of six years.)  

  1. A course of study designed by the department in which he or she is enrolled and approved by the University. The course of study must have a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate work including, where applicable, a thesis or project in the student's chosen field. 
  2. A student must successfully pass an oral or written examination on his or her complete master's program if required by the department. 
  3. Satisfactory grades in all subjects offered for the degree must be earned (See Academic Standing). 
  4. All financial obligations, including tuition, fees, and expenses, must be satisfied as evidenced by completion and submission of a signed Graduate Degree Clearance form to the Registrar's Office. 

ResearchOptionMastersResearch Option for the Master's Degree

If required by the program, a student must complete a master's project or a thesis. The proposal must be approved by the department in which the student is enrolled and the final project or thesis must be of graduate level quality.


The project must consist of a scholarly investigation, such as a review, report, synthesis, design or experiments in the student's field resulting in a comprehensive written document.  Usually, if a student chooses the project option, he or she is required to take additional course credits.  Each project is awarded only three to four credits and is intended to be completed within the time limit of one semester. If the work for a project is not completed by the end of the semester, the instructor will give the student an Incomplete which is to be treated the same as an incomplete for a regular course. 


The requirements for a thesis are much more extensive, including the completion of acceptable research and its defense before a thesis committee. The completed thesis must conform to the format specified in the "Thesis Guide"  which is available in the Registrar's Office.  The time required for completion may vary; if a student has not completed the thesis by the end of the semester, but is making satisfactory progress, he or she is given the grade of "PR".  If the student requires the use of university resources to continue thesis research, but has completed the required number of credits for the master's thesis, he or she may sign up for 3, 6, or 9 credits of Continuing Graduate Research (see Course Descriptions).However, if the student is not using University resources, but is in the process of writing the thesis, he or she may register for Continued Matriculation for the semester(s) during which the work is completed. Continued Matriculation is available to international students only under special circumstances. International students should contact the International Student Office ( for more information and to make sure they comply with visa and immigration regulations. 

Upon successful completion of the thesis, the grade of "S" will be awarded for the all semesters in which the student is registered for thesis research. Only the Registrar's Office can issue this grade.

ThesisCommitteeThesis Committee

As soon as a student has chosen an area of research, a Thesis Committee is selected by the student and his or her research advisor in accordance with the policy of the department. The Thesis Committee shall consist of at least three members, at least two of whom shall be from the student's major department. One member of the committee shall be the student's thesis advisor.  An outside expert, such as the supervisor of a research project conducted at an industrial setting or a faculty member from another institution, may be a member of the committee, but that individual must possess academic credentials which would qualify him or her to serve as a member of the University of Massachusetts Lowell faculty. The responsibilities of the Thesis Committee shall be to:

  1. Approve the research topic. 
  2. Supervise the progress of the thesis. 
  3. Read, evaluate and approve or disapprove of the written thesis. 
  4. Hear, evaluate and approve or disapprove of the oral defense of the thesis. 
  5. Report the completion of all thesis requirements to the department and the Registrar's Office.

ThesisPreparationThesis Preparation

Every graduate student who completes a thesis is required to bear the cost of binding two copies of the manuscript for the University's files. Copy writing is optional and available for an additional fee.

ThesisDefenseThesis Defense

Two weeks prior to the thesis defense, announcements of the defense listing the candidate's name, thesis title, and place and time of the defense, must be submitted to the chairperson of the department, the college dean, and the Registrar's Office, and posted and distributed throughout the University. The defense is open to the public.

For Students Continuing on to a Doctoral Program

Students accepted into a master's degree program who decide to continue on for the doctorate but want to first complete their master's degree must adhere to the following procedure. 

  1. The student must complete all required courses, compile a 3.000 grade point average, and successfully defend his/her thesis, if required. 
  2. The student must complete the Registrar's Office clearance process for the master's degree. 
  3. A student is prohibited from enrolling in doctoral research until he or she has completed the clearance process for the master's degree. 
  4. The student must then apply to the doctoral program by completing the standard Graduate Admissions application process. 
  5. Official admission into a doctoral program and receipt of a letter of acceptance are contingent upon completion of the clearance process for the master's degree.