GRS Master’s Degree Requirements

Students admitted into a master’s program in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences must have completed an approved bachelor’s degree at an accredited institution.


A student in a Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) master’s degree program is required to have an advisor who is a member of the faculty in the student’s department or program. If an advisor is not assigned in advance of registration, the student should consult the department chair/program director or director of graduate studies about assignment procedures.

All courses must be approved by the student’s major advisor and department chair, program director, or director of graduate studies.

Credit and Course Requirements

Students are required to complete a minimum of 32 graduate credits, although specific degree programs may require more. These credits may be earned through graduate courses, seminars, or directed study or research with an individual faculty member. Specific requirements of courses, seminars, and research or directed study are determined by the student’s department or graduate program. Graduate credits are those earned from courses numbered 500 or higher. At least 16 of the required 32 credits must be in the major field.

Normally, no more than 18 credits per semester may be taken concurrently. Students must register for at least 2 credits or Continuing Student Status each semester until the completion of all degree requirements, unless they obtain an authorized leave of absence. The number of courses that may be transferred to a master’s program is explained in more detail in the Transfer of Credits section of this website.

Students must be registered for every semester or Summer Term during which a degree requirement is completed or University facilities are used unless on an official leave of absence. When finishing the degree, students must be registered in the semester in which the final degree requirements are completed.

Language Requirement

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences has no general foreign language requirement. Proficiency in one or more foreign languages is required in many of our degree programs; please consult the individual program listings for specific requirements.

Thesis or Comprehensive Examination

A thesis or a comprehensive examination may be required, as determined by the department or division of major study.

Good Academic Standing

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences requires graduate students to maintain Good Academic Standing in order to remain enrolled in their graduate program and/or to retain GRS scholarship and/or fellowship support. The GRS criteria for Good Academic Standing are as follows:

    1. Have no more than two failing or W grades.
    2. Meet all milestones of the degree, such as comprehensive exams, on the schedule specified by the program.
    3. Meet all milestones of the degree with sufficient quality of work as specified by the program.

Please note: Good Academic Standing is distinct from Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and the GRS Academic Conduct Code. Please see the relevant Bulletin pages for additional information about those policies.

Time Limit

The program shall be completed within three years after the first registration for study leading to the master’s degree. In extenuating circumstances, a student may petition with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences for more time in which to complete the degree.