Graduate students can add or change a degree, major or certificate as early as the second term of enrollment, or as late as the second-to-last term of enrollment. Requests should be made at least one week before the start of the term; requests received after that will be processed for the following term. Changes can be requested using the Change of Degree/Major/Certificate form.

If you’re a new student and you want the change to happen before you arrive, you’ll need to submit a new application to your desired graduate program.

If you’re requesting to change majors or drop a degree, after your request has been approved by the Graduate School, please make sure to notify the major department you are leaving that you will no longer be continuing in that program.

 

Common questions when changing or adding a degree

 

When changing majors, will credits from my prior major apply toward my new major?

After your major change is approved using the Change of Degree/Major/Certificate form, you must submit a Program of Study for the new major and meet all requirements of the new major. With committee approval, your previous coursework may be used toward the new major with the following stipulations:

  • The thesis credits listed on the Program of Study must be specific to the new major. For example, a doctoral student who changes their major from Statistics to Mathematics must use only MTH 603 Thesis credits to meet the 36-credit minimum thesis requirement for the degree.
  • For non-thesis degrees, final project, research, or internship credits on the Program of Study must be specific to the new major.

 

As a doctoral student, can I earn a master’s degree along the way in the same program?

Doctoral students may earn a concurrent master’s degree by meeting all requirements of both degrees. To do this, a student must:

  • First, discuss your plans with your advisor. If you’re an international student, also talk with the Office of International Services (OIS) about your plans.
  • Request to add a concurrent master’s degree by submitting a Change of Degree/Major/Certificate form. Requests should be made at least one week before the start of the term; requests received after that will be processed for the following term. Allow about two weeks for the change of degree to be approved.
  • Form a committee for each degree. Committee members may be the same for both degrees.
  • Submit a separate Program of Study for each degree (master’s and doctoral). With committee approval, coursework may be used toward both degrees, with the following stipulations:
    • Thesis credits must be specific to the degree and cannot be duplicated: 503 for masters and 603 for doctoral.
    • Coursework must adhere to time limits for each degree: seven years for masters and nine years for doctoral.
    • Residency requirements must be met for both degrees. Refer to the master’s residence policy and the doctoral residence policy.
  • Follow all time-to-degree limits for each degree. For example, a doctoral student is allowed nine years to complete the degree starting from the first term admitted to the doctoral program. This is true no matter how long it takes to earn the master’s degree along the way.
  • For degrees that require a thesis, write a separate thesis or dissertation for each degree. The papers may be connected to the same body of research, but the thesis and dissertation content must be distinct.
  • Take and pass all formal exams separately for each degree, including:
    • Master’s final exam or final alternative summative assessment
    • Doctoral oral preliminary exam. Many graduate programs also require their doctoral students to pass a written comprehensive exam before the oral preliminary exam.
    • Doctoral final exam.
  • Submit a diploma application for each degree earned by the beginning of the final term.

 

I’m a doctoral student, but I no longer plan to finish the degree. Can I finish with a master’s degree instead?

Doctoral students may change to a master’s degree instead of finishing the doctoral degree. To do this, a student must:

  • First, discuss your plans with your advisor. If you’re an international student, also talk with the Office of International Services (OIS) about your plans.
  • Request to change to a master’s degree by submitting a Change of Degree/Major/Certificate form. Do this at least one full term before you intend to graduate. Allow about two weeks for the change of degree to be approved.
  • Form a master’s committee. Committee members may be the same as your doctoral committee.
  • Submit a master’s Program of Study. With committee approval, coursework previously earned as a doctoral student may be used toward the master’s degree, with the following stipulations:
    • Thesis credits must be specific to the master’s degree. Only 503 master’s thesis credits may be used. Submit an Equivalence of Thesis/Non-Thesis Credit form if needed, to “convert” prior 603 credits to 503.
    • Coursework must adhere to the seven-year time limit for the master’s degree.
    • Residency requirements must be met for the master’s degree. Discuss any concerns with the Graduate School.
  • Write a master’s thesis if your degree requires a thesis.
  • Take and pass a master’s final exam or final alternative summative assessment. This is a separate exam from any formal exam you may have taken as a doctoral student.
  • Submit a diploma application for the master’s degree by the beginning of the final term.

 

I’m a master’s student, but I’d like to earn a doctoral degree too. How can I do this?

Master’s students may earn a doctoral degree by meeting all requirements of both degrees. To do this, a student must:

  • First, discuss your plans with your advisor. If you’re an international student, also talk with the Office of International Services (OIS) about your plans.
  • Request to add a concurrent doctoral degree by submitting a Change of Degree/Major/Certificate form. The best time to do this is while you’re still enrolled in the master’s program. Allow about two weeks for the change of degree to be approved. If you’re applying to a doctoral program after you’ve already completed the master’s degree, you’d need to fill out a full application like any other new student.
  • Form a committee for each degree. Committee members may be the same for both degrees.
  • Submit a separate Program of Study for each degree (master’s and doctoral). With committee approval, most coursework may be used toward both degrees, with the following stipulations:
    • Thesis credits must be specific to the degree and cannot be duplicated: 503 for masters and 603 for doctoral.
    • Coursework must adhere to time limits for each degree: seven years for masters and nine years for doctoral.
    • Residency requirements must be met for both degrees.
  • Follow all time-to-degree limits for each degree. For example, a doctoral student is allowed nine years to complete the degree starting from the first term admitted to the doctoral program. This is true no matter how long it takes to earn the master’s degree along the way.
  • For degrees that require a thesis, write a separate thesis or dissertation for each degree. The papers may be connected to the same body of research, but the thesis and dissertation content must be distinct.
  • Take and pass all formal exams separately for each degree, including:
    • Master’s final exam or final alternative summative assessment
    • Doctoral oral preliminary exam. Many graduate programs also require their doctoral students to pass a written comprehensive exam before the oral preliminary exam.
    • Doctoral final exam.
  • Submit a diploma application for each degree earned by the beginning of the final term.

 

Can a master’s student change to a doctoral degree even if they don’t plan to finish the master’s degree?

With departmental approval, master’s students may change to a doctoral degree without completing the master’s degree. To do this, a student must:

  • First, discuss your plans with your advisor. If you’re an international student, also talk with the Office of International Services (OIS) about your plans.
  • Request to change to a doctoral degree by submitting a Change of Degree/Major/Certificate form. Allow about two weeks for the change of degree to be approved.
  • Form a doctoral committee. Committee members may be similar to your master’s committee. However, doctoral committees require a minimum of five members, including a Graduate Council Representative (GCR).
  • Submit a doctoral Program of Study. With committee approval, coursework previously earned as a master’s student may be used toward the doctoral degree, with the following stipulations:
    • Thesis credits must be specific to the doctoral degree. Only 603 doctoral thesis credits may be used.
    • Coursework must adhere to the nine-year time limit for the doctoral degree.
    • Residency requirements must be met for the doctoral degree.
  • Write a doctoral dissertation.
  • Take and pass all formal exams for the doctoral degree, including:
    • Doctoral oral preliminary exam. Many graduate programs also require their doctoral students to pass a written comprehensive exam before the oral preliminary exam.
    • Doctoral final exam.
  • Submit a diploma application for the doctoral degree by the beginning of the final term.

 

How does a master’s thesis student switch to a non-thesis track?

If you’re switching to a non-thesis track and your degree is not changing (for example, MS thesis to MS non-thesis), then you’d simply submit a new Program of Study to make this change. Non-thesis master’s programs require one fewer committee member, and typically require research, project, capstone or similar credits in lieu of thesis credits. Discuss the changes with your advisor before submitting your new Program of Study. Be aware that thesis credits cannot be used on a non-thesis Program of Study. Submit an Equivalence of Thesis/Non-Thesis Credit form if needed, to “convert” prior 503 Thesis credits to 501 Research or 506 Project credits.

If you’re switching to a non-thesis track and you’re also changing degrees (for example, MS to MEng), then you’d request the degree change first by submitting a Change of Degree/Major/Certificate form. Allow about two weeks for the change of degree to be approved. Then submit a new Program of Study for the new degree.

 

While pursuing my master’s/doctoral degree, I earned enough credits for a graduate certificate. Can I receive the certificate now, too?

Certificates cannot be awarded retroactively. What this means is that at the end of your masters or doctoral degree you cannot receive a certificate unless you’d previously been admitted to the certificate program.

Per the certificate transfer credit policy, up to nine quarter credits maybe transferred into a graduate certificate program. Therefore, if you’re admitted to an 18-credit graduate certificate program while pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, you could transfer a maximum of nine credits into the certificate, and you’d need to earn an additional nine credits toward the certificate after admission into the program.