Graduate students

Requirements for Master's Degrees

Policy Number: 100811

Current Policy

Category: Academic » University Requirements

 

Policy

Units Required for Master's Degree Programs

Master’s degree programs at NAU require a minimum of 30 credit units. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 credit units.

Coursework Requirements  

Northern Arizona University expects students to have adequate undergraduate preparation for their intended major. Generally, the student must have at least the equivalent of an undergraduate minor (18 units), and the student's advisor may require that the student take, as a prerequisite for graduate study, any undergraduate course normally required of undergraduate majors in the field.

To earn a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University under the thesis option, students must complete at least 18 units of formal coursework, that is, courses other than such individualized studies as independent studies, directed readings, and research. No 400-level courses may be used toward this 18-hour formal coursework requirement.

To earn a master's degree at Northern Arizona University under the non-thesis option, students must complete at least 24 units of formal coursework—that is, courses other than such individualized studies as independent studies, directed readings, and research.  

The student's program may allow the student to take a maximum of two 400-level courses (6 credit units) at Northern Arizona University as part of the student's master's program with prior approval by the student's program committee. Students must file the "Override Authorization—Audit/Class Links/Out of Career form" (available on the Registrar's Office website), to get credit for a 400-level course in their master's degree.

In addition, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average for all courses taken as a graduate student and all courses required in their academic plan. . See the Academic Continuation and Dismissal, Graduate policy in this catalog for more detailed information. 

Time Limits for Completion

Students must complete all requirements for their master's degree within a six-year period.

If students take courses from other institutions and transfer the courses to their program at Northern Arizona University, the courses must be also taken within the six-year period. However, an exception to the 6-year time limit may be granted by the Graduate College, with proper approval from the academic unit or program, through a request in writing to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. (For more information about transfer credit, see Transfer Credit - Graduate Students which includes an explanation of regulations governing transfer credit for Master's Degrees. 

If a student has earned graduate credit at NAU that was not applied toward a previously completed NAU degree, they may petition to apply this credit toward their current graduate degree. These petitions must receive faculty, academic unit administrator, and Graduate College approval. The courses to be applied must have been successfully completed within the time period required for completing the current degree or certificate. However, an exception to the 6-year time limit may be granted by the Graduate College, with proper approval from the academic unit or program, through a request in writing to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College.

To request an extension of the six-year limit, either for completion of the degree or applying previously earned graduate credit for courses completed beyond the time limit, students must submit a "Petition for Extension of Time Limit for Master's Degree" form to the Graduate College. This form, available on the Graduate College website, must be endorsed by the student's advisor and department chair. The Graduate College Dean or Associate Dean makes the final decision.

The Graduate College may grant students one extension of time for up to one year to complete degree requirements if there are compelling extenuating circumstances. The reasons for which the Graduate College may grant an extension include, but are not limited to, job relocation, military duty, pregnancy, illness, a serious accident, divorce, or other life-impacting events within the student's immediate household.  

Students can petition for exception

Graduate students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related, graduate regulation for which no specific appeal or petition process exists. Petitions should be submitted, in writing, to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. When applicable, the student’s advisor and department chair may endorse the petition letter. In some specific instances, utilizing the Graduate Academic Appeal Policy is more appropriate.

Students should contact the Associate Dean of the Graduate College for clarification on which process to initiate.


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