Printed on: 05/24/2017. Please go to for the most current version of the Policy or related document.


Master's Degree: Completion

Responsible University Officer(s):

  • Executive Vice President and Provost

Policy Owner(s):

  • Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education

Policy contact(s):

Date Revised:

July 2012

Effective Date:

July 2012


Students are responsible for meeting all requirements for completing the master’s degree, including thesis or project defense and submission, where applicable. 

  1. Final Examination Committee:  Plan A and B Master’s Degrees
    1. The final examination committee must consist of at least three members, including the advisor/s.  All members of the committee and the student must participate in the final examination. Committee members and/or the student may participate remotely as long as all conditions for remote participation in examination are met.
      1. At least one member must represent a field outside the student’s major field.
      2. If the student has a declared minor(s), the outside member(s) must be from the minor field(s). 
      3. Members cannot satisfy the requirement with respect to more than one field.
    2. Changes in committee membership may be made after filing the degree plan if approved by the program Director of Graduate Studies and the collegiate unit. Changes must also be archived centrally in the system of record.
  2. Final Examination:
    1. For students submitting a Plan A thesis, the final examination must contain an oral component.  The final oral examination is a closed examination open only to the final oral examination committee and the student. Programs may also require a written examination. 
    2. For students submitting a Plan B project, the final examination may be oral, written, or both.  The final oral examination is a closed examination open only to the final oral examination committee and the student.
    3. Students must provide the reviewers with a copy of the Plan A thesis or project submitted in lieu of a thesis at least 14 days before the scheduled date of the final examination.
    4. Every member of the final examination committee must certify on the master’s thesis reviewer’s report that the thesis or project submitted in lieu of a thesis is ready for defense before the final examination may take place.
    5. A majority vote of an examining committee is required to pass the master’s final examination. 
    6. If revisions are required as a condition of passing, the advisor/s must certify that the revisions have been completed before the degree is awarded. 
    7. If the student fails the final examination, the student may retake the examination only if all committee members, or all committee members save one, approve this option.
    8. The second attempt to pass the master’s final examination must use the same committee members as the first examination unless an emergency situation necessitates a substitution. 
    9. If the committee does not approve a retake, or if the student fails the second attempt, the student will be terminated from the program.
  3. Thesis Submission:  Master’s Thesis/Professional Engineering Design Project

    All students who complete a Plan A Thesis or Professional Engineering Design Project must file a digital copy of the thesis with the University in accordance with University standards.  Students may request that the University embargo publication of the thesis for a limited period of time.


  4.  Plan C Master’s Degrees

    Plan C master’s degrees typically do not include standard final examination formats like those for Plan A and Plan B master’s degrees.  However, students must satisfy all of the course and other requirements specified by the program in order to complete the degree.

  5. Minimum GPA required for graduation

    Students must have a 2.800 minimum GPA for courses included on the degree plan at the time of degree clearance.

Effective Date

This policy applies to all students admitted after January 1, 2013.  Students who matriculated before January 1, 2013 may choose to continue under the policies in effect when they initially matriculated in their graduate program.

This policy does not apply to first professional degrees.  (The first professional degrees are the J.D., M.D., Pharm.D., D.V.M., D.D.S, and L.L.M. degrees.)


This policy establishes uniform standards for the master’s final examination; defines timely submission of copies of the thesis for University archives, and supports Board of Regents Policy: Openness in Research which covers public dissemination of University-sponsored research.






Primary Contact(s)
University of Minnesota - Duluth
Erik Brown
University of Minnesota Rochester


Project in lieu of a thesis
Some programs permit students to submit a project instead of a written thesis. Such projects may consist of performances, displays, working models, etc.


Graduate School
  • Provide guidelines for formatting and submitting the thesis, to include not only current instructions for electronic formatting and filing, but also guidelines governing the use of already published material in the thesis. Guidelines should take account of possible copyright issues.
Collegiate Units
  • Approve and archive in the system of record committee membership (including any subsequent changes to an approved committee). Changes in committee membership must also be approved by the program DGS.
  • Approve and record the specific procedures used by programs for administering and grading the master’s final examination.
  • Maintain and publish any additional collegiate-level publishing standards or guidelines (e.g., stylistic conventions based on discipline , language of the thesis).
  • Publish the specific procedures used for administering and grading the master’s final examination, and identify whether candidates for each degree and track offered must take written examinations, oral examinations, or both.
  • Provide program-specific information in the graduate handbook.
  • Maintain and publish any additional program-level publishing standards or guidelines (e.g., stylistic conventions based on discipline, language of the thesis).
  • Review and approve any changes in committee membership; route program-approved requests to the collegiate unit for approval and archiving.



July 2012 - New Policy, Comprehensive Review: 1. Establishes guidelines for remote participation in graduate milestone examination. 2. Establishes the University as the digital archive of record for deposit of dissertations. 3. Extends applicability of policy requirements to programs not formerly under the aegis of the Graduate School.
Document Feedback