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Master's Degree Requirements

Master's | Doctoral

In addition to the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees, the University also offers the following master's degrees: Master of Architecture (M.Arch.), Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Master of Science in Accounting (M.S. Acctg.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.), Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.), Master of Music (M.M.), Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.), Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (M.S. Ch.E.), Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.), Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (M.S.E.C.E.), Master of Science in Engineering Management (M.S.E.Mgt.), Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (M.S.Envr.E.), Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (M.S.I.E.O.R.), Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.), Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), and Professional Master of Business Administration (P.M.B.A.). Programs are described elsewhere in this section; for all other programs consult specific program of study.


1. A minimum of 30 graduate credits, of which not more than six credits (for M.F.A. students, 12 credits) of grade B or better may be transferred from other institutions with the consent of the candidate's major department and approval of the Graduate Dean. These transfer credits must have been awarded within three years of a student's entrance into the master's degree program. A minimum of 21 credits must be in the major field, unless a higher number is required by the student's program. If a thesis option is chosen, at least six credits must be earned in 600-800 series courses (at this University) in addition to any thesis credits, and Special Problems/Independent Study courses shall be limited to 6 credits (for M.F.A. students 12 credits). If a thesis is not offered, at least 12 credits must be earned (at this University) in 600-800 series courses. A minimum of half the required credits for a master's degree in each department must be on a letter graded basis; some or all of the remaining number of credit hours toward the degree may be on a pass/fail basis, subject to the approval of the student's department. The option as to which courses may be taken on a pass/fail basis rests with the department/school rather than with the individual candidate. Transfer credits cannot be used as part of the required component of one-half credits of letter grades. No more than 10 credits may be earned by means of a thesis.

2. The thesis is optional with the school or department; if one is required, however, it shall be under the supervision of a Thesis Committee. This committee shall consist of one or more members of the Graduate Faculty appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the Graduate Program Director or the Head or Chair of the Department. A copy of the candidate's thesis outline must be signed by each member of the Thesis Committee to indicate that the outline has been approved. A signed copy of the thesis outline shall be sent to the Graduate Dean four months prior to the thesis defense. The thesis must be approved by the Thesis Committee and the Department Chair or Head. If the candidate prepares a thesis, Special Problems courses shall be limited to six credits.

3. Candidates who do not write a thesis may be required to pass a general examination (written or oral), depending on program requirements. The Examining Committee usually consists of three graduate faculty members, and the positive recommendation of at least two of the three members of the Examining Committee shall be requisite to receiving the degree.

4. Candidates for the doctoral or master's/doctoral degree may apply for the master's degree when they have fulfilled normal requirements in their Department/School for the master's degree.

5. Foreign language requirements for the master's degree are optional with the school or department.

6. Course credits used previously to fulfill the requirements for any prior degree may not be used for fulfilling requirements for any master's degree at this University.

7. The Statute of Limitations (total time period in which to earn the master's degree) is three calendar years from acceptance into the program, except that for the M.F.A. program and the part-time off-campus programs in engineering, music education, and management, the period is four years.

Master of Arts in Teaching

The Master of Arts in Teaching program is primarily for those who do not have adequate academic preparation nor appropriate teaching experience but who do hold a bachelor's degree to become effective teachers either at the secondary school or community/junior college level. The M.A.T. program leads to a terminal degree combining professional aspects of the M.Ed. degree with the academic tradition of the M.S./M.A. degree. Thirty-nine credits are required for the secondary school option, and 45 credits for the community/junior college option. A maximum of nine graduate credits of grade B or better from another accredited institution may be applied toward the degree, upon recommendation by one of the participating programs (Spanish, Classics, French and Italian) and approval by the Graduate Dean.

Master of Fine Arts

The Master of Fine Arts degree program is designed particularly for those interested in the creative aspects of the arts and may be obtained in the Department of Art for work in the visual arts, the Department of English for work in creative writing, or the Department of Theater for work in dramatic art. The basic requirements for the degree are:

1. Sixty credits at the graduate level. Not more than 12 credits may be transferred from other institutions upon recommendation of the department and approval of the Graduate Dean. No more than 18 credits may be earned for the thesis.

2. The exact nature of the thesis project will be determined by the student's major adviser in conference with the student. It is to be understood that the student will produce a work in the creative arts. A written analysis of the work itself and of the procedures used in producing it is required. The candidate will be asked to pass an examination in the major field in addition to presenting the thesis project publicly.

Master's Thesis

The requirements for the master's thesis are the same as those for the doctoral dissertation, listed above, with the following exceptions:

1. The Chair or Head of the Department shall submit nominations to the Graduate Dean for a Thesis Committee. This committee may consist of one, two, or three members, all of whom must be members of the University of Massachusetts Graduate Faculty. After the Thesis Committee has been appointed by the Graduate Dean, it shall review the candidate's proposed thesis outline. When accepted, all members shall sign a cover sheet indicating approval. The thesis outline, with the cover sheet bearing the signatures of the committee members and the date of the Thesis Committee's meeting with the candidate, will be forwarded to the Graduate Dean by the Graduate Program Director at least four months prior to the thesis defense. All candidates who prepare a thesis must pass a thesis examination, not necessarily limited to the thesis topic, and administered by the Thesis Committee.

2. The candidate shall submit to the Graduate School the original and one copy of the thesis. Both the original and the copy will be sent to the Library for binding. The candidate shall pay a fee to cover binding costs. The original will be deposited in the central library as an archival copy; the copy will be placed in either the central library or branch library, as appropriate, for circulation. Some departments require an additional copy of the thesis for their own files. A list of binderies is available at the Office of Degree Requirements. Candidates who wish to have additional copies bound may find this list useful.

3. The thesis and copy must be submitted along with the Eligibility for Degree form to the Graduate School by the deadline for the appropriate degree granting period.