Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

Requirements, deadlines, formatting and electronic submission information, and other information essential to completing your master’s or doctoral degree.

Master's Degree Requirements

1. Credit Requirement

A minimum of 30 graduate credits are required for a master's degree; 21 must be in the student's major field unless a higher number is required by the student's program. The grade-point average for the courses counted toward the degree must be 3.0 or above. A minimum of one-half of the total required credits must be on a letter-graded basis. Any portion of the remaining credits may be graded Satisfactory subject to prior approval by the student's department/program. Credits transferred from another institution cannot be used to satisfy the university's requirement for graded credits nor the 600-800 course level requirement. Graduate courses which have been applied toward any baccalaureate or advanced degree may not be used for fulfilling requirements for any other master's degree at the university.

  • a. Thesis Option: Graduate students who write a thesis cannot count more than ten (10) thesis credits toward the master's degree. The number of Special Problems (Independent Study) credits is limited to six (6), except for M.F.A. students who are allowed 12 credits. Excluding thesis credits, graduate students must earn an additional six (6) credits in the 600-800 course level range.  These credits will be graded IP (In Progress) until the thesis has been accepted by the Graduate School at which time these credits will be converted to SAT (Satisfactory).
  • b. Non-Thesis Option: Graduate students who do not write a master's thesis must earn a minimum of twelve (12) credits in the 600-800 course level range.

 

2. Language Requirement

No foreign language is required by the Graduate School; however, some programs do require a language proficiency. Refer to the Graduate School Bulletin and program literature for foreign language requirements and the competency levels.

3. General Examination

Although the Graduate School does not require a general master's examination, some programs do. In programs which do require a final examination, the examination is not optional to individual students; all students must take it. For students choosing the thesis option, a final examination is required, and it may not necessarily be limited to the thesis topic. The result of the examination should be forwarded to the Graduate Student Service Center.

4. Thesis Option

In addition to the requirements which apply to all master's degree candidates, the following requirements apply specifically to graduate students who anticipate submitting a master's thesis. A terminal project does not constitute a thesis and is, therefore, not covered by the following requirements:

  • Committee: Preparation of the master's thesis shall be under the direct supervision of a Thesis Committee. That Committee shall consist of one or more members of the Graduate Faculty recommended by the Graduate Program Director (GPD) and/or Department Head/Chair of the student's major program. A thesis committee has been officially constituted when the Graduate Dean sends formal notification of its formation to all members, to the Graduate Program Director, and to the student. Members of the Thesis Committee must agree to, not only assist in the supervision of the thesis project, but also attend the defense. Selection of the committee is a matter of "academic judgement" which should be made by the GPD and the Department Chair, and approved by the Graduate Dean. Students should be reminded that most faculty are on nine-month contracts and should not necessarily assume that committee members will be available during the summer months.
  • Outline: A master's candidate must prepare a suitable thesis outline to be approved and signed on the cover sheet, by each member of the approved Thesis Committee and the Graduate Program Director or Department Head/Chair. The signed copy of the thesis outline is forwarded to the Graduate Student Service Center for inclusion in the candidate's file, at least four (4) months prior to the date that the thesis defense is scheduled.
  • Master's Thesis: A master's thesis must be typed in a prescribed style (see the Typing Guidelines for Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations) and submitted electronically through the University of Massachusetts Amherst ScholarWorks for M.A., M.S., M.F.A. (Art and Theater) or ScholarWorks for M.F.A. (English only)website. The thesis must be approved and signed by all members of the thesis committee and the Department Head/Chair. One original of the thesis signature page is required to be submitted on acid free paper to the Graduate Student Service Center. Some departments require an additional copy of the thesis for their own files. As a service for students, we have a list of binderies available at the Graduate Student Service Center for interested students.
  • Thesis Credit: See department requirements in the Graduate School Bulletin for the specific number in each program. There is no maximum number of thesis credits allowed; however, a student may use no more than ten (10) thesis credits (18 credits for M.F.A. students) to meet the total number of degree credits required for the degree.  These credits will be graded IP (In Progress) until the thesis has been accepted by the Graduate School at which time these credits will be converted to SAT (Satisfactory).
  • Thesis Defense: The result of the Thesis Defense is forwarded to the Graduate Student Service Center directly following the Examination.

5. Degree Eligibility Form

The Degree Eligibility Form (available online and in the Graduate Student Service Center) must be completed by all master's candidates and signed by the Graduate Program Director and the Department Head/Chair. The graduate student should verify the accuracy of the information which is put on this form from his/her permanent record (an unofficial copy of the student's record is available on SPIRE). The completed form, with appropriate signatures, must be received by the Graduate Student Service Center by the posted deadline. (See Check List for Master's Degree). These deadlines are strictly observed and will not be extended. Degrees cannot and will not be awarded retroactively.

Dual Master's Degree Requirements

The intent of a dual master's degree option is to encourage students to pursue interdisciplinary studies in two clearly related programs. By undertaking this simultaneous pursuit, the student earns a master's degree in each of the two programs, while completing somewhat fewer credits than would be required to complete the programs separately.

  1. All degree requirements of each of the two degrees must be completed. In particular, the core courses in each program must be completed. However, courses in one program may be used to satisfy elective requirements in the cooperating program, and vice versa.
  2. The total number of degree credits will be at least equal to 60 credits of which no fewer than 30 credits must come from each of the two programs.
  3. If either of the cooperating degree programs requires a thesis, a thesis will be required under the dual degree option. The thesis should address a topic which is derived from the rationale for the dual degree.
  4. In order for a student to be permitted to exercise the dual degree option, the student must meet the entrance requirements of each individual program and be admitted by both programs.
  5. Both degrees must be awarded concurrently. Neither of the two degrees awarded under the dual degree option shall be awarded retroactively.
  6. The Statute of Limitations for completion of a dual degree option shall be five (5) years.
  7. A student who does not complete both courses of study required by the cooperating programs may be awarded one master's degree upon completion of the program requirements for one of the two programs.

A dual master's degree option can be approved at the request of two cooperating master's degree programs, and with the agreement of the Graduate School, provided certain requirements are met. There are no new degrees or programs associated with adding a dual degree option to the offerings of each of the cooperating programs. However, the addition of this option will be subject to Graduate Council and Faculty Senate approval.

Master of Arts in Teaching Requirements

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 Requirements

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.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

1. Credit Requirements

The number of courses required prior to a student taking his/her Preliminary Comprehensive Examination is determined by the student's adviser/guidance committee/Graduate Program Director. The Graduate School requires no minimum number of credits for a doctoral program, with the exception of dissertation credits.

2. Residency Requirement

A doctoral candidate must spend the equivalent of at least one continuous academic year of full-time graduate work (nine credits per semester) in residence at the university. The residency year must be either in a Fall/Spring or Spring/Fall sequence. During this year, the student must spend some part of each week physically on campus. Doctoral students enrolled in recognized off-campus programs may satisfy this regulation at their off-campus site.

3. Language Requirement

No foreign language is required by the Graduate School; however, some departments do require language proficiency. Refer to the Graduate School Bulletin and program literature for foreign language requirements and competency levels.

4. Preliminary Comprehensive Examination

The Preliminary Comprehensive Examination is prepared and administered by the candidate's department/program. Notification of the result of the examination should be forwarded to the Graduate Student Service Center.

5. Doctoral Dissertation Committee

As soon as the student has passed the Preliminary Comprehensive Examination, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee is appointed by the Graduate Dean upon nomination and recommendation by the Graduate Program Director or Department Head/Chair. The Committee is composed of at least three (3) graduate faculty members: the chairperson, at least one other member from the candidate's department/program, and one member from outside the candidate's department/program. The committee has been officially constituted when the Graduate Dean sends formal notification of its formation to each committee member, the Graduate Program Director, and to the student. Members of the Dissertation Committee must agree to not only assist in the supervision of the dissertation project, but also conduct the Final Oral Examination. Selection of the committee is a matter of "academic judgement" which should be made by the Graduate Program Director and/or Department Chair and/or Advisor, and approved by the Graduate Dean. Students should be reminded that most faculty are on nine-month contracts and should not necessarily assume that committee members will be available during the summer months.

6. Dissertation Credit Requirement

The total number of dissertation credits required varies, by department/program, from 10 to 18 graduate credits. See course number 899 in the Graduate School Bulletin under the appropriate program for the required minimum number of dissertation credits. There is no maximum number of credits to which a student is limited; however, a student can register for only a maximum of nine (9) credits per semester/session. Doctoral candidates will not be recommended to the Board of Trustees for the doctoral degree unless they have the requisite number of dissertation credits.  These credits will be graded IP (In Progress) until the dissertation has been accepted by the Graduate School at which time these credits will be converted to SAT (Satisfactory).

7. Dissertation Prospectus/Outline

After passing the Preliminary Comprehensive Examination, the graduate degree candidate must prepare a dissertation prospectus/outline describing the research to be conducted, analyzed, and presented in the dissertation. The cover sheet must be signed by each member of the Dissertation Committee to indicate approval of the topic and its plan of execution. The Graduate Program Director or Department Head/Chair signs and forwards the prospectus to the Graduate Student Service Center. This copy must be received at least seven (7) months prior to the Final Oral Examination.

8. Announcement of Final Oral Examination

All Final Oral Examinations/Dissertation Defenses must be announced In the Loop on the Inside UMass Weekly Bulletin to allow interested Graduate Faculty and others to attend. The Graduate Student Service Center must receive written notification of the scheduling of a Final Oral Examination at least four weeks prior to the date of the defense. An examination cannot be held unless it has been publicly announced on Inside UMass. The examination must be held on the Amherst campus. All members of the Dissertation Committee must be present at the defense. (Note: All Graduate Faculty are invited to attend and cannot be excluded from a Final Oral Examination. Departments differ in allowing others to attend. Courtesy suggests that the Chair of the Committee, whose name is published on Inside UMass, be consulted by others attending the Defense, with the stipulation above.)

9. Final Oral Examination Results

The result of a Final Oral Examination is forwarded to the Graduate Student Service Center directly following the examination.

10. Dissertation

The dissertation must be typed in a prescribed style (see the Typing Guidelines for Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations) and submitted electronically through the University of Massachusetts Amherst dissertation submission site at ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst. The dissertation must be approved and signed by all members of the dissertation committee and the Department Head/Chair. The Graduate School is the final and only arbitrator of what is an acceptable dissertation. Inclusion of a copyright statement is required by the Graduate School, but registration of the copyright is optional. If registration of the copyright is chosen, the copyright registration fee must be paid to the U.S. Copyright Office. The dissertation will be cataloged in the Library of Congress and in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Publication by ScholarWorks does not preclude the printing of the dissertation in whole or in part in a journal or as a monograph. As a service for students, we also have a list of binderies available at the Graduate Student Service Center for interested students.

11. Degree Eligibility Form:

The Degree Eligibility Form (available online or at the Graduate Student Service Center) must be completed by all doctoral degree candidates and signed by the Graduate Program Director and the Department Head/Chair. The candidate should verify the accuracy of the information on this form with his/her permanent record. The completed form, along with all materials (see Checklist for Doctoral Degrees) must be received at the Graduate Student Service Center by the posted deadline. These deadlines are strictly observed and will not be extended. Degrees cannot and will not be awarded retroactively.

Joint Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

A joint Ph.D. program can be approved in the Graduate Council at the request of two cooperating programs, providing the following requirements are met:

  1. Students will apply for admission to a single doctoral program of their choice.
  2. Following residence on campus for at least one semester, a student interested in a joint degree will apply for admission to the second program, provided that the Graduate Council has approved the specific joint degree program.
  3. If the student is admitted to the second program, the original admitting program will still be credited for that student and the transcript will read "Program 1" for the original admitting department, and "Program 2" for the second program.
  4. When the student is accepted into the second program, the statute of limitations will automatically be extended by two years.
  5. The requirements of the Graduate School and all requirements of both graduate programs must be met, including passing preliminary comprehensive examinations in both programs.
  6. Only one dissertation and one dissertation defense are required. There must be at least one member of the dissertation committee from each program and the outside member must be from outside both programs.
  7. A joint degree means one Ph.D. in Programs 1 and 2, not two separate Ph.D. degrees. Such joint degrees will not establish any new degrees and are not new programs. The spirit of the joint doctoral degree is to foster cooperation among degree-granting units. Each program involved in any given joint degree retains, through its Graduate Program Director, full responsibility for ensuring that joint degree students fulfill all course and examination requirements relevant to its own program. A joint Ph.D. degree will be awarded only when all requirements have been met for both graduate programs.

Five College Cooperative Ph.D. Program

A cooperative Ph.D. program is offered by Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The degree is awarded by this university, but in exceptional cases much of the work leading to it may be taken at one or another of the participating institutions. Departments authorized to offer the cooperative Ph.D. degree are: all departments in the biological sciences, chemistry, geology, physics, and astronomy.

An applicant must apply for the Five College Cooperative Ph.D. Program through the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts. The applicant must then secure the approval of the appropriate academic department at the University. The application then will be forwarded to the appropriate Five College institution for its evaluation. The letter of acceptance to the applicant is sent only by the Dean of the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts, not by the other cooperating institution.

Registration for the Five College Cooperative Ph.D. students is handled only through the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts. Degrees awarded in this program will be appropriately indicated on the diploma and the permanent record. All requirements for the Five College Cooperative Ph.D. degree are similar to those for the Ph.D. degree at the university except for the residency requirement. Residence in this program will apply to the institution where the dissertation work is done. The names of the Graduate Faculty at cooperating institutions are listed in the Graduate Bulletin.

Submission Deadlines

The University confers degrees three times a year: February, May and September. Submission deadlines for the requirements below are published in the Graduate School's Academic Calendar. Please note that your Degree Eligibility Form must be submitted to your academic department for review at least two weeks prior to the final degree deadline.

Students must satisfy all academic requirements and resolve all outstanding university obligations including any outstanding fees and all holds that prevent graduation within 6 weeks from the official degree date.

Deadlines are absolute. No exceptions will be made. All online submissions, forms, and fees are required to be submitted before the deadline date.

Master’s Degree Requirements for All Candidates

  • Course work completed. Grades for courses being taken in the current semester will be reported at the end of the Final Examination Period.
  • Master’s Degree Eligibility Form must be completed and submitted to the academic department two weeks prior to the degree deadline to allow for departmental review. The student, department graduate program director, and department head/chairman must sign the Eligibility Form.
  • Diploma Name and Home (Non-UMass) Email Address must be updated in SPIRE (Student Center > Expected Graduation Term > Graduation Data)
  • Diploma address must be updated in SPIRE (Student Center > Expected Graduate Term > Graduation Data). Diplomas will be sent to the student's Diploma Address.
  • Any transfer credits listed on the Eligibility Form must be approved by the Graduate School
  • The total number of credits listed on the Eligibility Form must be at least the minimum for the program
  • Minimum of 21 credits in the major field
  • Minimum of 12 credits in 600-800 level courses for non-thesis students; minimum of 6 credits in 600-800 level courses for thesis students (in addition to thesis [699] credits)
  • At most six credits of 400 level courses (they must be outside the major field), subject to approval of the Graduate Program Director
  • No courses below the 400 level should be listed on the Eligibility Form
  • The grade point average for courses listed on the Eligibility Form must be 3.0 or above
  • Enrolled as an active student
  • Bursar fees paid - any outstanding Bursar fees must be paid directly to the Bursar; no holds on record
  • Department or program contacted regarding any further programmatic requirements

Other requirements that may or may not apply

  • Language requirement satisfied
  • Thesis committee appointed by the Graduate Dean
  • Thesis outline submitted to department
  • There has been four months between submission of prospectus/outline and thesis defense date
  • Registered for the appropriate number of thesis (699) credits
  • Maximum of six credits in Independent Study and Special Problem (596, 696, 796) courses if a thesis is submitted
  • General examination/thesis defense passed - a memo stating that the exam/defense was passed and the date on which it was passed must be signed by the Graduate Program Director and filed with the Graduate Student Service Center. The exam must be scheduled and passed by the posted deadline.
  • Master's thesis electronically filed with ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst - Scholarworks for M.A., M.S., M.F.A. (Art and Theater) or Scholarworks for English M.F.A.
  • Signature page – one signature page with original signatures must be submitted to the Graduate Student Service Center. An unsigned signature page should also be included after the copyright page in the electronic copy of your dissertation.

Master’s Paperwork Requirements

  • Master’s Degree Eligibility Form for Thesis Students or Non-Thesis Students. Please fill in the blank fields on the Eligibility Form, then have it signed as indicated. A form must be submitted with signatures by the deadlines indicated.
  • One paper signature page with original signatures must be delivered to the Graduate Student Service Center. The paper signature page should be on 8 1/2" x 11" paper. An unsigned blank signature page should be included after the copyright page in the electronic copy of your thesis.

Master's Thesis Submission

Completing and submitting your master’s thesis is an important part of completing your master’s degree. Your thesis must be formatted as prescribed by the Graduate School in the Guidelines for Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations (pdf) and electronically submitted through ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst, the university's permanent digital archive for scholarly materials.

  • ScholarWorks: Master’s students at UMass Amherst use ScholarWorks— the UMass Libraries’ permanent digital repository for faculty and student research—to submit theses in accordance with master’s degree requirements. ScholarWorks is indexed by major search engines and is used globally by those who wish to reference scholarship produced by members of the UMass community.
  • Managing Access Controls in ScholarWorks: As the author, you automatically retain the copyright of your thesis. You have two different kinds of controls available to temporarily limit the access to your manuscript:
    • Document Type defines who may access the manuscript.
      • You will select a Document Type in ScholarWorks. “Open Access” means that anyone who has Internet access can view, cite, and download your work. “Campus Only Access” restricts the audience to those who have a UMass Amherst NetID and password or who use the Interlibrary Loan service.
      • The Campus Access option will expire after a period of either one year or five years, depending on the term you select. The manuscript will become available automatically via Open Access in ScholarWorks after the Campus Access period has expired.
    • Embargo Period will shield the manuscript for a specific length of time. Documents under embargo are neither visible nor downloadable in their entirety to anyone other than the author; titles and abstracts for embargoed documents are visible.
      • Doctoral candidates and master’s students typically use an Embargo Period only if patent applications or publication contracts are pending.
      • There are three choices for embargo term lengths: six months, one year or five years.
    • If you need an Embargo Period that is longer than one year, you must request a memo from your Graduate Program Director stating that person’s approval for the extension. The memo must be submitted to the Graduate Student Service Center prior to your degree date.
    • Campus Only Access and Embargo Periods are both time-limited. The start date for either or both types of protection is the same as your degree date. If you invoke both, the embargo will supersede the Campus Access control.
  • Document Accessibility: Consider the global nature of your readership. People who cannot distinguish colors accurately on screen or who have more severe visual impairments need to be able to understand all of your content. Do not let simple formatting choices create barriers for some members of your audience. Producing accessible works for online publication adds to your professionalism and begins with a few simple techniques to apply as you compose your document. Review six quick tips for making your document accessible.
  • Master’s Thesis Checklist: Make sure you have the following:
    • A non-UMass email address that you will continue to use indefinitely after you graduate from UMass Amherst.
    • Your manuscript in PDF format. Be sure to proofread your work before converting to PDF and recheck formatting after converting to ensure that all images and tables are properly positioned. For help with PDF conversions, visit the Learning Commons in the DuBois Library.
    • Any supporting files that you wish to provide as supplemental content, e.g. pictures, audio, video, animations, simulations, etc. Tip: name the files according to how you have referenced them in your manuscript and store them in the same location with your manuscript.
    • Your selection of up to six keywords or phrases to ensure that your work appears in relevant searches.

Electronic Thesis Submission Process

  1. If you are not in the English MFA program, create your ScholarWorks account using a non-UMass email address or log in if your account already exists.
  2. If you are an English MFA student, you must use a program-specific entry into English MFA Program ScholarWorks to create your account or log in.
  3. Enter all information requested (demographic information, dates, title, keywords, advisor(s), abstract, etc.) on the ScholarWorks page.
  4. After you upload the manuscript from your computer, make sure that you can see the file name beside the Browse button before you submit.
  5. If you need to add supplemental content, be sure to select the checkbox under Additional Files. ScholarWorks will provide a screen to upload additional material immediately after you submit the thesis.
  6. Review all information carefully before clicking Submit.
  7. Check your non-UMass email address for a confirmation of your submission from ScholarWorks.

After Submission

  • The Graduate School will review your submission and will contact you concerning any required revisions. If revisions are required, you must revise the original document, reconvert it to PDF, and resubmit it through ScholarWorks. Important: make only those revisions specified by the Graduate School in such cases.
  • To ensure that you receive any communications about revisions, be careful to check the email account associated with your ScholarWorks account. Do not rely on messages forwarded between email accounts.
  • Please allow up to six weeks for the Graduate School to complete the initial review. You will be contacted at the email address provided in ScholarWorks with requests for revisions and/or notification of format approval.
  • When the Graduate School has approved the final version of the thesis, and you have satisfied all other degree requirements, the manuscript will be available to others via ScholarWorks.

All online submissions, forms, paper signatures, and fees are required to be submitted before the deadline date to be included in a degree period.

Doctoral Degree Requirements for All Candidates

  • Final Oral Examination completed - please note that the Graduate School must have the announcement of your final oral exam one month before the defense. See the Checklist for Doctoral Oral Examinations for details.
  • Doctoral Degree Eligibility Form must be completed and submitted to the academic department two weeks prior to the degree deadline to allow for departmental review. The student, department graduate program director, and department head/chairman must sign the Eligibility Form.
  • Dissertation electronically filed with ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst.
  • Signature page – one signature page with original signatures must be submitted to the Graduate Student Service Center. An unsigned signature page should also be included after the copyright page in the electronic copy of your dissertation.
  • Survey of Earned Doctorates – this online survey must be completed and submitted by the deadline.
  • Copyright registration (optional) - register your copyright with the Library of Congress Copyright Office.

Additional requirements to be met before being cleared for graduation

  • You must be an active student.
  • All requirements on the Checklist for Doctoral Oral Examinations must have been met before the Final Oral Exam is scheduled.
  • Your Final Oral Exam must be passed by the posted deadline and a memo stating that the exam was passed and the date on which it was passed must be signed by your graduate program director and filed with the Graduate Student Service Center.
  • No holds can be on your record.
  • Bursar fees must be paid. Any outstanding Bursar fees must be paid directly to the Bursar.
  • Diploma Name and Home (Non-UMass) Email Address must be updated in SPIRE (Student Center > Expected Graduation Term > Graduation Data).
  • Diploma address must be updated in SPIRE (Student Center > Expected Graduate Term > Graduation Data). Diplomas will be sent to the student's Diploma Address.

Doctoral Paperwork Requirements

The items listed below must be completed and delivered directly to the Graduate Student Service Center in Goodell Room 534 by the deadline.

  • Doctoral Degree Eligibility Form
    Please fill in the blank fields on the Eligibility Form, make a double-sided copy of the form, then have it signed as indicated. A paper form must be submitted with original signatures by the deadlines indicated. Please select either the Doctoral Degree Eligibility Form for PhD and EdD degrees or the Professional Doctoral Degree Eligibility Form for DNP and AuD degrees.
  • Survey of Earned Doctorates Questionnaire
    The Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) is a federal agency survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center for the National Science Foundation and five other federal agencies. The SED gathers information annually from 45,000 new U.S. research doctorate graduates about their educational histories, funding sources, and post-doctoral plans.
  • Signature Page
    One paper signature page with original signatures must be delivered to the Graduate Student Service Center. The paper signature page should be on white, 8 1/2" x 11" paper. An unsigned blank signature page should be included after the copyright page in the electronic copy of your dissertation.
  • Copyright
    Although the University of Massachusetts Amherst requires that all dissertations be copyrighted by placing a copyright notice in all copies of the work, registration of the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is optional.

Doctoral Dissertation Submission

Completing and submitting your dissertation is an important part of completing your doctoral degree. Your dissertation must be formatted as prescribed by the Graduate School in the Guidelines for Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations (pdf) and electronically submitted through ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst, the university's permanent digital archive for scholarly materials.

  • ScholarWorks: Doctoral candidates at UMass Amherst use ScholarWorks— the UMass Libraries’ permanent digital repository for faculty and student research—to submit theses in accordance with doctoral degree requirements. ScholarWorks is indexed by major search engines and is used globally by those who wish to reference scholarship produced by members of the UMass community.
  • Managing Access Controls in ScholarWorks: As the author, you automatically retain the copyright of your thesis. You have two different kinds of controls available to temporarily limit the access to your manuscript:
    • Document Type defines who may access the manuscript.
      • You will select a Document Type in ScholarWorks. “Open Access” means that anyone who has Internet access can view, cite, and download your work. “Campus Only Access” restricts the audience to those who have a UMass Amherst NetID and password or who use the Interlibrary Loan service.
      • The Campus Access option will expire after a period of either one year or five years, depending on the term you select. The manuscript will become available automatically via Open Access in ScholarWorks after the Campus Access period has expired.
    • Embargo Period will shield the manuscript for a specific length of time. Documents under embargo are neither visible nor downloadable in their entirety to anyone other than the author; titles and abstracts for embargoed documents are visible.
      • Doctoral candidates and master’s students typically use an Embargo Period only if patent applications or publication contracts are pending.
      • There are three choices for embargo term lengths: six months, one year or five years.
    • If you need an Embargo Period that is longer than one year, you must request a memo from your Graduate Program Director stating that person’s approval for the extension. The memo must be submitted to the Graduate Student Service Center prior to your degree date.
    • Campus Only Access and Embargo Periods are both time-limited. The start date for either or both types of protection is the same as your degree date. If you invoke both, the embargo will supersede the Campus Access control.
  • Document Accessibility: Consider the global nature of your readership. People who cannot distinguish colors accurately on screen or who have more severe visual impairments need to be able to understand all of your content. Do not let simple formatting choices create barriers for some members of your audience. Producing accessible works for online publication adds to your professionalism and begins with a few simple techniques to apply as you compose your document. Review six quick tips for making your document accessible.
  • Doctoral Dissertation Checklist: Make sure you have the following:
    • A non-UMass email address that you will continue to use indefinitely after you graduate from UMass Amherst.
    • Your manuscript in PDF format. Be sure to proofread your work before converting to PDF and recheck formatting after converting to ensure that all images and tables are properly positioned. For help with PDF conversions, visit the Learning Commons in the DuBois Library.
    • Any supporting files that you wish to provide as supplemental content, e.g. pictures, audio, video, animations, simulations, etc. Tip: name the files according to how you have referenced them in your manuscript and store them in the same location with your manuscript.
    • Your selection of up to six keywords or phrases to ensure that your work appears in relevant searches.

Electronic Dissertation Submission Process

  1. Create your ScholarWorks account using a non-UMass email address or log in if your account already exists.
  2. Enter all information requested (demographic information, dates, title, keywords, advisor(s), abstract, etc.) on the ScholarWorks page.
  3. After you upload the manuscript from your computer, make sure that you can see the file name beside the Browse button before you submit.
  4. If you need to add supplemental content, be sure to select the checkbox under Additional Files. ScholarWorks will provide a screen to upload additional material immediately after you submit the dissertation.
  5. Review all information carefully before clicking Submit.
  6. Check your non-UMass email address for a confirmation of your submission from ScholarWorks.

After Submission

  • The Graduate School will review your submission and will contact you concerning any required revisions. If revisions are required, you must revise the original document, reconvert it to PDF, and resubmit it through ScholarWorks. Important: make only those revisions specified by the Graduate School in such cases.
  • To ensure that you receive any communications about revisions, be careful to check the email account associated with your ScholarWorks account. Do not rely on messages forwarded between email accounts.
  • Please allow up to six weeks for the Graduate School to complete the initial review. You will be contacted at the email address provided in ScholarWorks with requests for revisions and/or notification of format approval.
  • When the Graduate School has approved the final version of the thesis, and you have satisfied all other degree requirements, the manuscript will be available to others via ScholarWorks.

All online submissions, forms, paper signatures, and fees are required to be submitted before the deadline date to be included in a degree period.

Formatting Tutorials & Technical Assistance

The Information Technology (IT) department offers graduate student tutorials and individual assistance with formatting theses and dissertations so that they comply with the graduate school's Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines. You can also view IT’s Thesis and Dissertation Formatting General Advice for some helpful tips on how to format and edit your manuscript. The Learning Commons located in the W.E.B. Dubois Library can help with technical problems such as converting the manuscript to PDF.

Commencement

The annual university Commencement ceremony takes place at the end of the spring semester (the exact date is published in the University Calendar and in the Academic Calendar).

  • Master's degree candidates may attend Commencement if they have submitted the Degree Eligibility Form by the April deadline, completed thesis and program examination requirements, and anticipate completing all courses by the end of the spring semester.
  • Doctoral candidates must have completed all degree requirements by the April deadline to participate in the ceremony.

Diplomas

Regulatory compliance requires the University report graduates no later than 6 weeks from the official degree conferral date.  The Graduate Student Service Center staff have 6 weeks from the official degree date to clear all students for graduation. Throughout this time, diplomas will mailed from our diploma vendor. A general guideline for this mailing is:

If your graduation date is:

  • February, your diploma will be mailed no later than April.
  • May, your diploma will be mailed no later than August.
  • September, your diploma will be mailed no later than November.

Name on Diploma

Diplomas are printed using the diploma name listed in SPIRE. You can view and update your diploma name in your SPIRE Student Center Graduation information. For help with updating your diploma name, visit View/Update Your Graduation Data. If you no longer have access to SPIRE, send a written letter which includes your name, student id or social security number, date of graduation, the name you want printed on your diploma,and your signature to the address listed below. We will not change the name on your diploma without written authorization from you.

Address Diploma is Sent To

Diplomas are mailed to the diploma address we have listed for you. You can view and update this address in your SPIRE Student Center Graduation information. For help with updating your diploma address, visit View/Update Your Graduation Data.  We will not send your diploma to an address other than your diploma address without written authorization from you.