Progress in a graduate degree program is a shared responsibility of the student and the faculty advisor. Students are responsible for compliance with the rules and procedures of The Graduate School and all other departmental or graduate program requirements. In fulfilling this responsibility, students should seek the advice of the faculty advisor and the director of the graduate program in which they are studying, as well as that of the staff of The Graduate School. Complete information on the special requirements for degrees will be found in the publications of the individual departments and programs. The general degree requirements common to all graduate programs follow.
The entire course of study undertaken for the M.A., M.F.A., M.P.P., M.P.S., or M.S. degree must constitute a unified, coherent program approved by the student's advisor and by The Graduate School. If the student is inadequately prepared for the required graduate courses, additional courses may be required to supplement the undergraduate work. These courses may not be considered as part of the graduate program. All requirements for the master's degree must be completed within a five-year period. Courses completed more than five years before the expected date for receiving the master's degree will not count toward that degree.
Transfer of Credit
The Graduate School will award up to six semester-hours of transfer credit for academic coursework taken at a regionally accredited institution of higher education in subject areas that are considered part of the student's UMBC master's degree program curriculum. The Graduate School will consider awarding transfer credit for academic coursework taken at institutions of higher education with other accreditation based on criteria such as course content and expected learning outcomes.
UMBC students enrolled in the accelerated bachelor's/master's program may transfer up to nine or twelve graduate credits used toward the baccalaureate degree into the master's degree program. Credit determinations are dependent upon individual graduate program specifications.
Students requesting the review of transfer credit must complete the Request for Transfer of Credit form after matriculation into The Graduate School. This form must be approved by the student's advisor and the graduate program director or chair for first and second approval, and then submitted, along with the official transcript(s) showing the course(s) and grade(s) for which transfer credit is requested, to the administrative offices of The Graduate School for final approval and processing. Transcripts from universities outside of the United States or Canada must be accompanied by WES credential evaluation.
Additional criteria shall apply to the review of transfer credit(s):
- coursework may be considered for transfer credit provided it was taken within five years of matriculating into the UMBC master's program;
- a grade of "B" or better must have been earned in the coursework to be transferred;
- coursework may not have been utilized for fulfillment in any other program for which the student has been awarded a degree with the exception of coursework taken through the accelerated bachelor's/master's program at UMBC.
In all instances, the number of credits and equivalence of a transferred course that a student may apply toward a master's degree at UMBC is determined by the appropriate program faculty and The Graduate School in accordance with Middle States Commission on Higher Education standards.
For academic coursework deemed transferable, the Graduate School will award transfer credit; however, grades earned at other institutions will not be included in the UMBC GPA calculation.
Transfer Credit Appeal
Students who wish to appeal transfer credit determinations or wish to dispute a course equivalency must do so in writing to the Associate Dean of the Graduate School.
Applying Credits From a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Toward a Master's Degree
The number of credits that a student may apply toward a master's degree from a post-baccalaureate certificate program is determined by the graduate program.
Minimum Credit Requirement
The minimum number of credit hours required by the university for the master's degree is 30. However, a substantially greater number of credit hours may be required in some programs.
An overall grade point average of "3.0" or grade of "B" in all course work taken.
A minimum of 30 credit hours, including a minimum of six hours of thesis research credit (799), is required for all master's degrees. Of the remaining 24 hours required in graduate courses, no fewer than 12 must be selected from courses that number 600 or higher.
All thesis and dissertations are submitted electronically. A Style Guide to assist students in the preparing of their thesis may be obtained from the Graduate School Website. All students seeking to graduate with the thesis option must be enrolled in the semester in which they plan to graduate and most likely will successfully complete the requirements during that same semester.
The final oral examination of the thesis is conducted by an examining committee appointed by the dean of The Graduate School. Nominations for membership on the committee are submitted to the dean of The Graduate School by the student's advisor two months before the planned date of the defense. The examining committee will consist of a minimum of three (including the chair) and a maximum of five voting members, three of whom will be members of the graduate faculty. All must hold the highest degree of their discipline. One member of the committee may be a scholar in the field of the thesis from another institution or another component of the University System of Maryland. A curriculum vitae for any outside member must accompany the nomination form. The dean will appoint The Graduate School representative.
The student's advisor, who must be a member of the graduate faculty, chairs the committee. The chairperson is informed of the approval of the nominated examining committee by the dean of The Graduate School. The chairperson of the committee then selects the time and place for the examination and notifies the other members of the committee and the candidate. The candidate must distribute the thesis to all members of the committee at least 10 working days before the date of the scheduled examination. Two members will certify to The Graduate School that the thesis is ready to be defended by filing the Certification of Completion of Master's Thesis form at least two weeks prior to the final examination.
The period for the oral examination is usually about one hour, but the time should be long enough to ensure an adequate examination. An affirmative vote of two members of a three-person committee or an affirmative vote of three members of a four- or five-member committee constitutes a successful defense of the thesis. The representative of The Graduate School shall return the completed Report of the Examining Committee form to the dean within two business days of the oral examination.
Any minor or typographical corrections or recommendations resulting from the oral examination must be incorporated into the thesis by the student before the final copy of the thesis is submitted to the administrative offices of The Graduate School. The signature of the advisor on the approval sheet will certify that all required corrections have been made.
In addition to the oral examination, a comprehensive written examination may be required at the option of the major department or program committee.
Three weeks before the date of graduation, the department must certify on the Completion of Master's Degree Requirements form that the student has completed or is completing all requirements for the degree.
The requirements for all master's degrees without thesis vary among departments and programs in which this option is available. Standards for admission are, however, identical with those for admission to any master's program. The quality of the work expected of the student is also identical to that expected in the thesis programs. The general requirements for students choosing the non-thesis option are: (a) of the total credits required by a program, a minimum of 18 taken in courses numbered 600 or higher; and programs may require (b) the submission of one or more scholarly papers and/or (c) the passing of a written comprehensive examination. On the last day of classes, the department must certify on the Certification of Completion of Master's Degree Requirements form that the student has completed all requirements for the degree. All students seeking to graduate with non-thesis option must be enrolled in the semester in which they plan to graduate and most likely will successfully complete the requirements during that same semester.
The Doctor of Philosophy degree is the highest degree awarded by the university and is granted only upon sufficient evidence of high attainment in scholarship and the ability to engage in independent research. It is not awarded for the completion of course and seminar requirements alone. In addition to the following requirements, special departmental requirements may be imposed. For these special requirements, consult the individual program descriptions in this catalog, the program's Web site and the graduate program director.
There is no Graduate School requirement on the number of courses to be taken in either the major or minor fields. It is the policy of The Graduate School to encourage the development of individual programs for each student who seeks the doctorate. To that end, the academic departments and interdisciplinary programs have been directed to determine major and minor requirements, levels or sequences of required courses and similar requirements for submission to the Graduate Council for approval. Any courses taken by a student outside the program in which he or she has been admitted requires the approval of that program's graduate program director. The penalty for not obtaining the proper approvals may lead to dismissal from the program.
Transfer of Credit
Transfer of credit for courses taken at other institutions is not required of doctoral students. Courses approved and accepted by the graduate program are included on the Graduate Record form at the time of admission to candidacy.
The equivalent of three years of full-time graduate study and research is the minimum required. Of the three years, the equivalent of at least one year must be spent at UMBC. On a part-time basis, the time needed will be increased correspondingly. All work at other institutions offered in partial fulfillment of the requirements for any doctoral degree must be submitted with the recommendation of the department or program concerned to The Graduate School on The Graduate School Record form for approval at the time of admission to candidacy. Official transcripts of the work must be on file in The Graduate School.
Foreign Language Requirement
Although The Graduate School does not have a language requirement for the doctoral degree, individual programs may have a foreign language requirement, and the student should consult the department regarding this requirement. The program requirement of a foreign language must be satisfied before the student can be admitted to candidacy for the doctorate.
Admission to Candidacy
Preliminary examinations or such other substantial tests as the departments may elect frequently are used as prerequisites for admission to candidacy. A student must be admitted to candidacy within five years after admission to the doctoral program. A student must be admitted to candidacy at least two full sequential semesters (spring, summer or fall) before the date on which the doctoral degree will be conferred.
Applications for admission to candidacy for the doctorate are made by the student and submitted to the major department for further action and transmission to The Graduate School. The Graduate School Record page (a section of the Application for Admission to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy form) delineates all course work taken and proposed by the student in fulfillment of degree requirements. It is the student's responsibility to submit the form promptly when all the requirements for candidacy have been fulfilled.
Students must complete all their program requirements for the degree, including the dissertation and final oral examination, within four years after admission to candidacy. Extensions of time are granted only under the most unusual circumstances. Failure to complete all requirements within the time allotted requires another application for admission to The Graduate School with the usual requisites as determined by the department or program committee.
The ability to do independent research must be demonstrated by an original dissertation on a topic approved by the department or program graduate committee.
During the preparation of the dissertation, all candidates for the doctoral degree must register for a minimum of 18 credit hours of doctoral dissertation research, numbered 899, at UMBC.
Authorization for publication of all or a portion of the dissertation prior to its defense and approval by the graduate faculty examining committee should be discussed between the student and the research advisor. Further authorization from the dean of The Graduate School is unnecessary. All dissertations are submitted electronically. A Style Guide to assist students in the preparing of their thesis may be obtained from the Graduate School Website.
Dissertation Examination Committee
The final oral defense of the dissertation is conducted by an examination committee recommended by the graduate faculty advisor and approved by the dean of The Graduate School.
Nominations for membership on the committee will be submitted by the student's advisor at least six months before the date of the final examination on the Nomination of Members for the Final Dissertation Examination Committee form. The committee will consist of a minimum of five voting members, all of whom hold the doctoral degree. At least three of these will be regular members of the graduate faculty. At least one of the five will hold an appointment in a program external to the one in which the student is seeking the degree. Members of the committee may be people from other institutions who hold a doctorate and who are distinguished scholars in the field of the dissertation. A curriculum vitae for any outside member(s) must accompany the Nomination of Members form.
The chair and two readers will be identified on the nomination form. The time and place of the examination will be established by the advisor, who will serve as chair of the committee. A co-chair of the committee may also be identified.
The dean of The Graduate School will appoint the final examination committee and notify the advisor of the approved committee. One member of the committee will be designated by the dean as his or her representative.
When the dissertation is complete and ready for distribution to the examination committee, the chair, co-chair, and both readers will sign the Certification of Completion of Doctoral Dissertation form. This form is to be filed with The Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the final examination along with the Announcement of Defense form and abstract. The abstract and defense dates are posted on The Graduate School website at http://gradschool.umbc.edu/graduation/defenses/. To permit all members of the committee adequate time to prepare for the examination, each must receive the final dissertation two weeks before the examination.
All final oral examinations are open to members of the graduate faculty. After the examination, the committee deliberates and votes in private. The affirmative votes of a majority plus one of the examination committee constitutes a successful defense of the dissertation; this means that the required number of affirmative votes is either four from a five-member committee, or five from a six- or seven-member committee. In addition to the normal responsibilities of a faculty examiner, the dean's representative must ensure that the examination is conducted according to established procedures. Any disagreement over the examination procedure is referred to the dean's representative for decision.
The Report of Examining Committee form is to be carried to the examination by the dean's representative. The signed report form, whether positive or negative, is to be returned to the administrative offices of The Graduate School within two business days of the oral defense. If the report is negative, a letter of explanation and remediation, if appropriate, must be given to The Graduate School, the graduate program director and the student within two working days of the defense.
Any minor typographical corrections or emendations to the dissertation agreed upon by the examining committee at the time of the final doctoral oral examination must be incorporated in the dissertation by the student before the final copy of the dissertation is submitted to the administrative offices of The Graduate School. The signature of the mentor on the approval sheet will certify that all required corrections or emendations have been made. The candidate may attempt the final oral defense only twice. A failure on the second attempt means the doctoral degree is forfeited.
Each MHEC-approved post-baccalaureate certificate requires the completion of a set of prescribed courses, usually four. Credits may not be transferred into a certificate program from another institution. If a required course was taken as a non-degree student at UMBC the department has the authority to approve a course transfer. If the student has already completed a required course(s) elsewhere, another graduate course(s) taken at UMBC may be substituted, with departmental approval.
At the discretion of the department(s), a student may pursue more than one certificate at a time. If the certificates have course duplications, credits may, at the discretion of the department, be used by a student for all such certificates. The grade of "B" or higher must have been earned in the required courses. If a lower grade is earned, the course must be repeated until at least a "B" is earned.
Certificates must be completed within a five-year period, though some departments may require a shorter completion time. The student must submit, with appropriate signatures, the Application for Certificate/Fulfillment of Course Requirement form within the first 10 days of the semester in which the coursework will be completed. A certificate completion fee will be assessed. The certificate diploma will be made available after the semester's grades have been posted and the clearance process has been completed. Only students receiving master's and doctoral degrees are eligible to participate in the university commencement ceremonies.
The Graduate School issues a calendar each year showing dates by which certain requirements for graduation are to be met and forms to be submitted by students who are in the last semester of their graduate program. This calendar is on The Graduate School Web site. Graduate students should consider it their responsibility to meet the deadlines therein if they expect to receive their diplomas at the end of the semester. The online Application for Graduation must be submitted by the deadline date of the semester in which the candidate expects to obtain a degree. Diplomas will be issued at the end of each semester. Students graduating in August and December are invited to participate in either the December or May Commencement ceremonies.
If students who have applied for a diploma realize they will not be able to complete the requirements for the degree as planned, they should inform the administrative offices of The Graduate School as soon as possible. Students not graduating at the end of the semester in which they had applied for the diploma must reapply in the semester in which they expect to graduate. Students must register for at least one credit per fall and spring semester until graduation.
Academic regalia is required of all candidates at both the December and May Commencements. Information regarding caps, gowns and hoods will be provided by the administrative offices of The Graduate School.
Commencement ceremonies for graduate students are held on the UMBC campus twice a year, in late December and late May (separate ceremonies for graduate students). August and December graduates are welcome to participate in either ceremony.
Please review the requirements and deadlines for degree completion early in the semester that you plan to graduate.
Once you have submitted the online Application for Graduation, you will receive information about commencement and how to order academic regalia.
While we celebrate the completion of all of our students' accomplishments, due to space consideration, we are able to accommodate only graduating degree-seeking students at commencement ceremonies. However, some departments provide a separate ceremony for certificate candidates.
The hooding of PhD and MFA graduates in the UMBC commencement ceremonies shall be performed by the student's mentor (or a substitute from the student's graduate program if the mentor is unavailable), assisted by the Provost. Only mentors and co-mentors who have official appointments in the University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore, may assist with the hooding. This hooding ceremony not only recognizes the achievements of the graduate, but it also provides an opportunity for the university to honor and thank the mentor for the success. Requests for other individuals (e.g., student's family or friend) to participate in the hooding ceremony will not be honored.
Students who have submitted the required graduation forms and have met the degree-completion requirements by the stated deadlines will be able to participate in commencement ceremonies in December or May.
Master's thesis students who have successfully completed the thesis defense but do not have the final thesis turned in by the deadline may participate in the commencement ceremony but will not graduate until the next term.
Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Fine Arts students are hooded and receive their diploma during the commencement ceremony. Because of the high level of accomplishment and respect these terminal degrees confer, the Graduate School only allows these students to participate in the commencement ceremony after all graduation requirements have been completed, including all revisions to the thesis or dissertation.
NOTE: All graduating doctoral students along with doctoral students who are withdrawing from their program are being asked to complete the Ph.D. exit survey. Participation in this is completely voluntary and the questionnaire covers topics that we hope will greatly assist us in our efforts to help doctoral students complete their degrees.