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Requirements for Graduate Degrees

Page Contents and Index:

The Master's Degree
Thesis Option
Non Thesis Option
Student Advising
Program of Study
Master's Examination
Thesis Advisory Committee
Thesis
Change from Thesis to Non-Thesis Option
Departmental Requirements

The Master's Degree

This section specifies the minimum requirements for a master's degree from Old Dominion University. Some colleges, schools and departments have requirements in addition to the requirements described below. In seeking a master's degree, each master's student accepts responsibility for the following University requirements as well as any imposed by the major department. The master's degree is awarded in recognition of the candidate's command of a comprehensive body of knowledge and ability to perform productively in the field of study. All master's degrees require a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit. No more than 12 credit hours taken at other institutions may be counted toward a master's degree at Old Dominion University. All requirements for a master's degree must be completed within a six-year period.  Exceptions to these time limits must be approved by the graduate program director, the college dean, and the vice provost of graduate studies and research.  Academic credits older than six years at the time of graduation must be validated by an examination before the work can be applied to a master's degree. See the Policy on Validation of Out-of-Date Graduate Credit. Students whose graduate study is interrupted by military service will be granted an extension of time for the period of their military service, not to exceed five years. Candidates for the master's degree at Old Dominion may have the choice of two options: the thesis option or the nonthesis option. The choice will depend upon the availability of the two options within the selected discipline, the professional interests of the candidate, and the advice and approval of the appropriate graduate program director.

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Thesis Option. A minimum of 30 semester credits is required, including 24 semester credits in approved course work and six semester credits in research. The candidate is required to prepare and present a thesis or equivalent creative work. A final oral examination covering the research is required. A comprehensive written and/or oral examination covering the program of study may be required.

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Nonthesis Option. A minimum of 30 semester credits of approved course work is required, including one or more courses at the conclusion of study that deal directly with special topics and/or training related to current problems or research in the discipline. A comprehensive written and/or oral examination, or an approved equivalent, on the program of study is required.

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Student Advising. The Master's Degree. The graduate program director in consultation with the student, will assign a graduate advisor who must be certified for graduate instruction. An annual evaluation may include student's performance in courses, assistantships (teaching, research), the development and re-evaluation of his/her plan of study, guidance in selecting projects and mentors, preparation and scheduling of qualifying/comprehensive or equivalent exams, time management, and obtaining employment or further education. The advisor's annual evaluation and recommendation will be shared with the student and the graduate program director.

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Program of Study. Prior to completion of 12 semester hours, the degree candidate is required to prepare a program of study with the guidance of the advisor. The purpose of the program of study is to ensure that the student organizes a coherent, individualized plan for the course work and research activities. The program of study is to be consistent with the requirements for the degree as described in the catalog and must be approved by the graduate program director. The successful completion of the program of study, along with the collateral reading, research, practica, etc., will enable the student to demonstrate the high level of professional competence required of all graduate students in their respective fields.

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Master's Examination. A comprehensive written examination and/or oral examination, or its equivalent, is required under the nonthesis option and, depending on the program, may be required under the thesis option. The examination tests the candidate's competence in the fields covered by the program of study. The nature of the master's examination will depend on the degree sought and the requirements of the major department and examining committee. A program may propose, through the appropriate college graduate committee and academic dean, replacing the master's examination with an equivalent requirement. Such equivalent requirements shall be approved by the vice provost of graduate studies and research. For further information, the student should consult the section on requirements under each degree program.  The
examining committee is appointed by the graduate program director with appropriate notification to the student.

The examining committee is composed of a minimum of three members who may or may not be those who serve as advisors or members of the thesis advisory committee. Members are expected to be certified for graduate instruction in the major department/school and college. This examination may not be scheduled until all major requirements have been satisfied except the final semester completion of the course work and/or the thesis. 

The results of the examination must be received in the Office of the registrar at least two weeks prior to the end of the semester. In order to pass the final examination or approved equivalent, a master's degree candidate must have a favorable vote from a majority of the examining committee. A student who has failed the examination may repeat it once but no earlier than the next regularly scheduled examination. Students who fail the comprehensive examination twice cannot subsequently elect a thesis option. At the discretion of the graduate program director, a student who passes the examination but does not graduate within twelve months may be required to repeat the examination.

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Thesis Advisory Committee. The graduate program director, in consultation with the student, appoints a thesis advisory committee of at least three graduate faculty members with the backgrounds and interests necessary to counsel, direct, and evaluate the proposed research and progress toward completion of the program of study. Nonfaculty personnel may be recommended for inclusion on a graduate thesis advisory committee. Such personnel should meet the current standards of academic training and research experience expected of faculty members serving on such committees. If the nonfaculty personnel are to be voting members of the advisory committee, approval of the inclusion of such personnel should be sought by the graduate program director through petition to the appropriate academic college dean, citing the particular advantages of such a nomination.  In all cases, the committee chair must be a resident graduate faculty member.

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Thesis. The candidate for the master's degree whose program of study includes a thesis is required to prepare and present a thesis (or equivalent in
creative work) acceptable to the thesis director and committee, the graduate program director, and the appropriate academic dean. The thesis must represent in content and methods the skills, disciplines and knowledge required for graduate study, including competence in written language. The character of the final work must testify to the distinction of the student and standards of the University. The thesis or equivalent creative work must be worthy as a culminating experience for graduate study. Candidates will be required to defend the thesis in an oral examination. Graduate Form 6 (Thesis/Dissertation Acceptance and Processing) must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar upon completion of Part A of this form. Graduate Form 11 (Thesis/Dissertation Delivery) must accompany Graduate Form 6.  The candidate should consult the Guide for Preparation of Theses and Dissertations available from the Office of Graduate Studies' web site.  Further information on thesis guidelines and deadlines can be found at http://www.eng.odu.edu/eng/resourcesfor/students/grad_students/thesis.shtml.

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Change From Thesis to Nonthesis Option. A student who wishes to change from the thesis option to the nonthesis option for the master's degree must obtain the permission of the thesis advisory committee and the graduate program director. The permission must be forwarded to the Office of the Registrar prior to the last semester for the intended graduation using Graduate Form 24 (Change from Thesis to Nonthesis Option). The candidate must meet all requirements of the nonthesis option. A maximum of three credits earned in thesis research can be counted toward the degree requirements for the nonthesis option. The thesis advisory committee must indicate that the thesis research work was productive in and of itself and warrants credit as a special problem or special topics course.

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Departmental Requirements. Individual colleges and/or programs may establish requirements above and beyond those set by the University as minimum. Students are obligated to follow the requirements of the appropriate graduate program section of the catalog in effect at the time of their first enrollment for this degree.

*Effective 2006-2008 Catalog Years.  Please see the current Graduate
Catalog for any changes.

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