Academic Policies: Master's Degree
- Advising and Guidance
- Requirements for a Master's Degree
- Master's Thesis
- Graduate Application for Degree (GAFD)
- Awarding of the Degree
- Degree Conferral and Commencement
- When Completion Letter is Needed
- Checklist for Completion of Degree Requirements
- Dual and Double Degree Programs
- Double Counting Credits
- Award of a Second Degree in the Same Field
Advising and Guidance
At the beginning of a student's work toward the master's degree, the Dean, chair or director of graduate studies in his or her program designates a principal advisor. The principal advisor may be the director of graduate studies or another faculty member. If a student has a faculty guidance committee, the committee chair is the principal advisor. The principal advisor is expected to meet periodically with the student to discuss his or her progress.
Requirements for a Master's Degree
The Bulletin stipulates the specific requirements for a masters' degree in each program of the University. In addition to any specific program requirements, Graduate School policy requires the following:
- Continuous registration, including the semester (fall, spring, summer) in which final degree requirements are completed.
- Completion of at least 24 credit hours of graduate coursework in residence, exclusive of a thesis, plus total number of credit hours required by the degree program. Transfer credits require approval of the Graduate School.
- Maintenance of at least a B (3.0) average in courses approved by the department or school graduate committee and presented for the degree. All courses for which the university has provided financial support to the student count as "presented for the degree".
- Fulfillment of all departmental or school course requirements. No credit is granted for graduate courses in which a grade lower than a C- has been received.
- Demonstration to the examination committee, by means of a master's examination (written and/or oral) and required papers or thesis, of familiarity with basic hypotheses and techniques of the discipline and competence in applying them.
- Completion of any research skills requirements.
- Completion of any additional work that may also be required.
- Fulfillment of any intra- and inter program major and minor requirements.
- Completion of all requirements, including thesis if required by the program, within five years after admission to the Graduate School.
- Completion of all courses in progress, and posting of final grades on the student transcript. The student should work with the department to attain final grades for all courses; students with in progress grades or missing grades cannot be conferred a degree.
If a general examination is required for the student's masters' degree, the Dean, chair or director of graduate studies in the program appoints an examination committee. The examination committee consists of at least three faculty, one of whom is normally the principal advisor. The examination may be written or oral, or a combination of both. The decision for pass or fail shall be by majority vote of the examiners.
If a thesis is required for the master's degree, the dean, chair, or director of graduate studies designates a thesis committee consisting of at least two members of the faculty who supervise and approve the thesis, with one of these designated as first supervisor.
The principal advisor may also serve as first supervisor of a student's thesis. If the student has an advising committee, it may also serve as the thesis committee. Programs may designate additional examiners for the master's thesis beyond the two thesis supervisors.
Only faculty with the formal (tenured or tenure-track) rank of assistant, associate or full professor in an academic department offering advanced degrees may serve as members of graduate student thesis committees. The Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School may approve exceptions to these restrictions in specific cases. Requests will not be considered without submission of a current curriculum vita and letters of endorsement from the chair or graduate director of the department offering the advanced degree or the dean of the school. Upon such approval, individuals who are not members of the graduate faculty may serve as members, but not as faculty advisors or chairs of graduate student thesis committees.
Preparation, Submission and Binding of the Thesis
See the Guidelines for Preparing or Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation outlined in the Graduate School Manual.
Graduate Application for Degree
Master degree students must file a Graduate Application for Degree (GAFD) form at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to complete all degree requirements and graduate. This serves as notification to both the Graduate School and the department of a student's intent to graduate. The GAFD is valid for one semester only. If a student files a GAFD but fails to graduate, she or he must submit a new application for degree survey in the following semester or the next semester of intended completion.
Awarding of the Degree
When the student has satisfied all requirements for a master's degree, the director of graduate studies submits a Recommendation for Award of Master's Degree Form to the Graduate School by the required deadline. If submitting a thesis, this form should be submitted with the thesis when possible.
The deadlines for students to submit theses and forms to the Graduate School are posted on the Graduation website each semester. Students who have not completed all degree requirements by the established deadlines will not graduate, and are required to register the following semester.
Degree Conferral and Commencement
Degrees are conferred three times each year: December, May and August. Students who complete degree requirements in the fall semester are awarded degrees in December; students who complete degree requirements in the spring semester are awarded degrees in May; students who complete degree requirements in summer are awarded degrees in August. Formal investiture of degrees awarded in all semesters will occur at the annual spring Commencement. Information regarding Commencement is mailed approximately two months prior to each commencement ceremony to all students who have declared themselves candidates. Commencement details are distributed via Binghamton University e-mail addresses; thus, it is imperative that candidates have access to their Binghamton University e-mail accounts. To participate in any Commencement ceremony, the graduate program must submit the Recommendation for Award of Master's Degree Form to the Graduate School by the required deadline. There can be no exceptions.
When Completion Letter is Needed
Students who complete ALL requirements for the degree well in advance of the award of the degree may, upon request to the Degree Completion Secretary, receive a statement from the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records certifying that all requirements for the degree have been completed. PLEASE NOTE: Once degree conferral processing for the semester in question has begun, no completion letters will be issued.
Checklist for Completion of Degree Requirements
"No thesis" option
- Are you maintaining continuous registration?
- Have you completed (or have you nearly completed) the minimum required credit hours for your degree program (please keep in mind the 24 credit hour residency requirement as a graduate student)?
- Have you successfully completed any additional departmental programmatic requirements (e.g. internship; termination project)?
- Have you filed a Graduate Application for Degree with the Graduate School for the semester you intend on completing all degree requirements to graduate?
- Have you addressed any incomplete or missing grades on your academic record, ensuring ample time (two weeks is recommended) for your professor to grade any incomplete courses or to resolve any missing grades prior to the last day of classes?
- Have you cleared up any financial obligations?
- Has the department submitted (on your behalf) the Recommendation for Award of Master's Degree Form to the Graduate School by the degree completion deadline?
"With thesis" option
Completion of all of the above items plus:
- Is your thesis in acceptable format as outlined in the Guidelines for Preparing or Submitting a Dissertation or Thesis section of the Graduate School Manual?
- Have you made your thesis document into a PDF file for the electronic submission?
- Have you submitted your thesis electronically through the Graduate School?
- Have you submitted your thesis processing fee form and payment (check or money order only) to the Graduate School office?
Dual and Double Degree Programs
Dual and double degree programs are separate graduate options for students, with the main difference being the SUNY and NYSED policies that they are subject to.
While dual degree programs are registered with SUNY and NYSED, double degree programs are approved by Binghamton University internally and they do not require additional SUNY and NYSED approval due to a change in the policies governing new program approvals.
Dual Degree Programs
Applicants to dual-degree programs should apply to both degree programs at the same time by submitting two graduate applications and paying two application fees. Both academic departments must recommend the applicant for admission to the dual-degree program. The Graduate School renders the final admission decision. If the student later decides to withdraw from one of the programs, the student is required to notify both academic departments and the Graduate School immediately in writing.
Students are expected to be registered as full-time students every semester and complete the dual-degree program as prescribed by the program. The only exception to full-time registration is for students in the MS Nursing program who are employed full-time, and this exception is noted upon admission. In this case, students are expected to be registered every semester and complete the dual-degree program as prescribed by the program. In all cases, students are expected to maintain continuous registration for the fall and spring semesters and complete the dual-degree program within five years of entering the program.
Only under special circumstances will a student be admitted to a dual-degree program after the student has started the first semester of one of the component degree programs. When applying for the dual degree program, the student must present a course schedule for every semester and have the schedule approved by both academic departments. The course schedule should meet the timeline prescribed by the dual-degree program. The Graduate School will render a final admission decision. If the student is admitted to the second degree program, enrollment in that program will not begin until the subsequent semester.
Double Degree Programs
Applicants interested in obtaining a double degree are required to apply to both degree programs. They are encouraged to do so at the same time. It is possible, however, for a student to apply for the partner program after they have started one of the degree programs.
Both academic department make their recommendations for admission separately with the Graduate School rendering the final admission decision
Students are expected to be registered as full-time students every semester and complete the double degree program as per the individual program requirements. They will be able to double count credits per the policies outlined in the Double Counting Credits portion of this manual. Students are expected to maintain continuous registration for the fall and spring semesters and are subject to the academic policies of each of the partnering programs.
Double Counting Credits
Students admitted to a graduate program may, within certain guidelines, double-count some courses for credit toward two degrees. A candidate for two degrees of the same rank (e.g., master's degrees) in separate disciplines may be allowed to double count some courses within the guidelines below. For details regarding recognized double degree programs approved internally by Binghamton University, recognized dual-degree programs registered with the State University of New York (SUNY) and New York State Education Department (NYSED), or recognized accelerated degree programs, please see the corresponding sections of the Graduate School Manual.
General Guidelines for Double Counting Credits
Double counted credits must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Equivalent courses in both programs (such as introductory research methods classes) for which both programs determine that either one (or a specific one) will fulfill the requirements of both programs;
- Elective credits for one program that are fulfilled by taking required courses in the other program;
- Elective credits outside of either program, which count towards both degrees;
- Experiential credits, which can be coordinated to simultaneously meet the requirements of both programs.
Culminating experience credits, such as thesis, capstone and dissertation hours cannot be double counted. Thesis research (599) and dissertation research (699) cannot be double counted.
Double counted credits cannot be justified if they diminish the rigor and depth of either program.
Two MA or two MS in different disciplines
If the two programs are part of a recognized double degree program or a recognized dual degree program, no more than 25% of the combined credit hours in the two degree programs and no more than 50% of the credit hours in any one degree can be double counted.
Double counting of credits is not permissible if the two degrees are not part of a recognized double degree program or a recognized dual degree program.
MA and MAT in the same discipline, concurrently or subsequently
A maximum of five courses that are regularly listed as common to both graduate programs may be double counted.
Two Master's Degrees: Any combination besides MA + MA, MS + MS or MAT + MA described above
Partnering departments or programs will together approve the number of courses to double count for each student enrolled in a double degree program. The maximum number of courses allowed for double counting shall not exceed 25% of the total credit hours of each degree program.
Two PhD in different disciplines
Requests for double counting of credits will be reviewed by both graduate programs in consultation with the Graduate School on a case-by-case basis.
Tuition Scholarships and Double Counting Credits
Unless they are part of a recognized double degree program or a recognized dual degree program, courses paid for by a tuition scholarship cannot be used for a second master's degree, a second doctoral degree or a master's degree after a doctoral degree. See Terms & Conditions of Tuition Scholarship.
Award of a Second Degree in the Same Field
The State University of New York policy states that a second degree at the same level (e.g., master's or doctorate) can be awarded only when a significant amount of additional course work in a very different field is completed. Normally when a student has already earned a master's or doctorate in a given discipline (e.g., economics or history) at another foreign or U.S. institution, a second degree at the same level in that discipline cannot be earned at Binghamton University.