Master's Degree: Completion

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

Policy Statement

This policy sets the standards for the master’s final examination and the requirements for completion of the master’s degree.

  1. Final Examination Committee:  Plan A and B Master’s Degrees
    1. The master's final examination committee must consist of at least three members, including the advisor(s). All members appointed to the committee must meet the minimum standards established by the program and college. 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 two members (including the advisor) must be from the student’s major field.
      2. At least one member must represent a field outside the student’s major. 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.
      4. Collegiate deans or their designated representatives at the collegiate level must verify eligibility and approve members of the final oral examination committee.
      5. The approved committee membership must be centrally archived in the system of record
    2. Changes in committee membership may be made after filing the degree plan if approved by the program Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) 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.
      1. 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 final examination. 
      2. Students must provide the reviewers with a copy of the Plan A thesis/ professional engineering design project at least 14 days before the scheduled date of the final examination.
      3. Every member of the final examination committee must certify on the master’s thesis reviewer’s report that the thesis/professional engineering design project is ready for defense before the final examination may take place.
    2. Committee members must notify the candidate in writing of all required revisions to the thesis or final project as well as specify a time limit for the submission of the revised master’s thesis or project within 7 days of the final examination.
      1. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. A majority vote of an examining committee is required to pass the master’s final examination. 
    5. 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.
    6. The second attempt to pass the master’s final examination must use the same committee members as the first examination unless an extraordinary or emergency situation necessitates a substitution. 
    7. 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/project with the University in accordance with University standards. Students may choose whether or not to request an embargo of publication of the thesis or design project 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.


This policy does not apply to the M.B.A. [Twin Cities] degree.

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.

Reason for Policy

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) Karen Starry 612-625-2815 [email protected]
University of Minnesota - Duluth Erik Brown 218-726-8891 [email protected]
University of Minnesota Rochester Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain 507-258-8006 [email protected]


There are no definitions associated with this policy.


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).
  • 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.


June 2017 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision: 1) Rewrote the introduction to clarify the goal of the policy, 2) added statement to clarify that at least two members of the exam committee are intended to represent the student's major field, 3) added statement to clarify that thte committee membership must be approved at the collegiate level, 4) added clarification that the student must be notified in writing of required revisions to the thesis and the time line for completion of revisions, 5) added an FAQ to clariofy that a program may require a public presentation of the master's thesis work but that this presentation is not required by the U and is not considered part of the final oral examination, 6) clarified language to indicate that students have a choice whether or not to impose and embargo on publication of the thesis for a limited time period. Proposed changes in policy respond to need for greater clarity on policy intent on the part of affected constituencies and enhanced consistency in policy implementation across programs.
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.

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