Credit Requirements for Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Responsible Officer
Rachel Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost
Owner
Scott Lanyon
Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education
Primary Contact
Karen Starry
Assistant To
Last Revised
Effective Date

Policy Statement

This policy governs the credit requirements for the following degrees:

  • Master’s Plan A degrees
  • Master’s Plan B degrees
  • Master’s Plan C degrees
  • Doctoral degrees

Credit requirements for master’s degrees

  1. Master’s degrees must consist of the following minimum credits:
    1. Plan A degrees: 10 master’s thesis credits (xxxx8777) and a minimum of 20 graduate-level course credits.
    2. Plan B degrees: a minimum of 30 graduate-level course credits, including Plan B Project credits as defined by each program and approved by the college.
    3. Plan C degrees: a minimum of 30 graduate-level course credits.
  2. No collegiate unit or program may require more than:
    1. 36 credits with a combination of course and thesis for a master’s Plan A
    2. 36 credits with a combination of course and Plan B project credits for a master’s Plan B, and
    3. 48 course credits for a master’s Plan C.
  3. Master’s thesis credits (xxxx8777) may be taken for the master’s Plan A at any time during a student’s degree program.
  4. A minimum of 6 graduate-level course credits is required for a master’s level minor.

Credit requirements for doctoral degrees

  1. Doctoral degrees must consist of a minimum of 48 credits: a minimum of 24 graduate-level course credits and a minimum of 24 doctoral thesis credits (xxxx8888).
  2. No collegiate unit or program may require more than 72 credits with a combination of course and doctoral thesis credits (xxxx8888) for the completion of the doctoral degree.
  3. Programs have the discretion, with college approval, to determine when it is academically appropriate for students to take doctoral thesis credits (xxxx8888).
  4. A minimum of 12 graduate-level course credits is required for a doctoral level minor.

Exceptions

Collegiate deans or the appropriate campus Vice Chancellor may request exceptions from the Executive Vice President and Provost to items 1b and 2b based on accreditation requirements, national standards of the field, interdisciplinary nature of the program or similar arguments. Collegiate deans or the appropriate campus Vice Chancellor may petition the Provost for an exception to the 24 doctoral thesis-credit (xxxx8888) minimum in item 2a on behalf of doctoral programs that do not require dissertations. The petition should show that the exception conforms to national standards in the field and that appropriate additional credits (course credits, internships, project credits, etc.) will replace the 24 doctoral thesis credits (xxxx8888).

This policy does not apply to the J.D., M.D., PharmD., D.V.M., D.D.S., L.L.M., and M.B.A (Twin Cities) degrees.

Reason for Policy

This policy establishes the minimum and maximum credit requirements for Master’s Plan A, B, and C degrees and for Doctoral degrees. It provides a framework for curriculum development that balances coursework, research training, and independent scholarly work.

Contacts

Subject Contact Phone Email
Primary Contact Karen Starry 612-625-2815 [email protected]
University of Minnesota – Duluth Erik Brown 218-726-8891 [email protected]

Definitions

Graduate-level Course Credits
Graduate-level course credits that are primarily numbered as 5xxx or above, excluding thesis credits. Graduate programs may choose to allow 4xxx-level course credits to be applied toward a graduate degree, up to the limit specified in Administrative Policy: Application of Credits for Students Earning Graduate Degrees.
Plan B Project Credits
Credits taken by the students in relation to their Plan B project as part of the degree requirements.
Early doctoral thesis credit registration
Registration for doctoral thesis credits (xxxx8888) prior to passing the preliminary oral examination.
Research-ready criteria
“Research-ready” criteria for early doctoral thesis credit registration eligibility are expected to vary by discipline but may include the structure of the program’s curriculum (e.g., early research activities/requirements built into the curriculum), a specific baseline of prior research experience(s), or other criteria that can be identified and consistently applied.
Thesis Credits
Credits taken by students in relation to their research work as part of the degree requirements. These include: xxxx-8777 (master’s thesis credits) and xxxx-8888 (doctoral thesis credits).

Responsibilities

Colleges and Programs
Request exceptions from the Executive Vice President and Provost to items 1b and 2b based on accreditation requirements, national standards of the field, interdisciplinary nature of the program or similar arguments.
Determine whether to require doctoral students to pass the preliminary oral examination prior to thesis credit (xxxx8888) registration, or to provide the program’s “research ready” doctoral students the option to register for xxxx8888 prior to the preliminary oral examination.
Publicize the graduate program’s decision whether its doctoral students must pass the preliminary oral examination prior to thesis credit (xxxx8888) registration.
Determine and publicize the graduate program’s criteria for assessing its students’ eligibility (i.e., “research readiness”) to register for xxxx8888, if registration prior to passing the preliminary oral examination will be allowed.

Related Information

There is no Related Information associated with this policy.

History

Amended:
December 2020 - Comprehensive Review changes.
  • Exceptions section edited to include the list of degrees exempt from this policy. (Noted:  Not a change per se; reflects original intention and existing practice.)
  • The revised Early Doctoral Thesis Credit Registration Option document is reconfigured, and now includes information previously found in the (now deleted) Implementation of Doctoral Thesis Credit Policy appendix.
  • The Implementation of Doctoral Thesis Credit Policy appendix is deleted, as much of the information is now obsolete.
  • Definitions section edited to reflect feedback from the Equity Lens Policy Review committee, which requested a definition of “research ready.” Edits also include a definition of “early doctoral thesis credit registration” and corrected policy name/link.
  • Responsibilities section edited to reflect feedback from the Equity Lens Policy Review committee. Edits emphasize the program/college responsibilities to identify, publicize, and consistently apply discipline-specific “research ready” criteria for early doctoral thesis credit registration.
Amended:
June 2015 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision: The changes provide greater clarity around the specific type of credits. Removed the effective date of the policy statement, which was inserted when this policy was first created.
Effective:
September 2011 - New Policy, Comprehensive Review. Establishes the minimum and maximum credit requirements for Master's Plan A, B, and C degrees and for Doctoral degrees. Provides a framework for curriculum development that balances coursework, research training, and independent scholarly work. Eliminates the requirement for outside coursework in view of the trend towards interdisciplinary curricula within many programs. Programs are given the option to require a minor or supporting program where warranted by educational objectives. Outlines a process by which collegiate deans may request exceptions.

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