General Degree Requirements

Number of Credits Required for a Graduate Degree

A minimum of 30 credits is required for completion of a graduate degree at MSUM. In either Plan A or Plan B at least one-half of the credits (exclusive of thesis or Plan B project requirements) must be earned at the 600 level. Once admitted to a graduate program, the student will, in consultation with a program advisor, develop a preliminary plan of study which will meet the specific standards of the program, as well as the general requirements for all Master's and Specialist degrees.

Residence and Transfer of Credit

1. Residence requirement. At least one-half of the semester credits constituting the minimum requirements for the master's or specialist degree or graduate certificate must be completed through registration at MSUM in offerings by its faculty.

2. Courses taken before admission to graduate program. Nine semester credits for a master's or specialist degree or one-half (up to eight) of the credits required of a graduate certificate program may be taken at MSUM in a Graduate Special status before admission (full standing or provisional) to a graduate program. At least 21 semester credits for a master's or specialist degree program or one-half of the semester credits required for a graduate certificate, must be taken after program admission.

3. Transfer from other Minnesota State Universities. Courses from another Minnesota State University may be transferred to a graduate master's degree program or a graduate certificate program based on the following: Up to 1/2 of the minimum course credits (not including project, thesis, internship, or practica credits) required for a master's or specialist degree may be transferred to an MSUM degree program with the approval of the graduate coordinator of the program involved.

a. Up to 1/2 of the minimum credits required for a graduate certificate may be transferred to an MSUM Certificate program upon the approval of the graduate certificate program coordinator.

b. An official transcript from each graduate institution from which the student wishes to transfer credits must be given to the Registrar's Office; the advisor will notify the Registrar's office which transfer credits are approved by the program and they will be added to the transcript. This will apply to credits transferred upon initial admission to MSUM as well as any credits taken after admission. But in no case may the total transfer credits be more than 1/2 of the minimum degree or certificate requirements.

c. The Registrar's Office monitors degree requirements and will certify that all graduate degree requirements are met before commencement.

4. Courses approved for registration through the Tri-College University are transferred upon approval of individual programs. A 600 course from NDSU cannot be transferred to an MSUM degree program because NDSU transcripts state that these courses are not graduate level.

5. Transfer from other accredited institutions. If a student transfers to an MSUM master's or specialist degree or graduate certificate program after attending an accredited graduate institution (other than a Minnesota State College and University campus), a maximum of nine (9) semester credits may be accepted in transfer from other accredited institutions. This must be approved by the program coordinator.

6. Other requirements. A grade of A or B is required in any courses to be included in a master's or specialist degree program or graduate certificate program and not taken at this university. No "P" or "S" grades may be transferred. Individual programs may approve credits with grades of A or B (not pass/fail) in workshops or in special in-service courses. No more than 1/6 of the required master's degree or graduate certificate credits may be counted from workshop or special in-service courses. Some continuing education courses from MSUM may be counted towards the master's or specialist degree or graduate certificate requirements. These will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the program coordinator and the college dean. Any course transferred from other institutions (within, or outside of, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System) must meet the seven year time limit (or five years for Counseling and Student Affairs) for completion of the degree. 

GPA Requirement for Continuation in Good Standing in Graduate Programs

Graduate students are required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale. Graduate students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of graduation.

Completion Rate Requirement for Continuation in Good Standing

All students must complete 67% of the sum of all MSUM credits attempted plus all transfer credits accepted.

  • MSUM credits attempted include all MSUM courses on a student's official record, including withdrawals, repeated courses, and grades of incomplete.
  • MSUM withdrawals, grades of F, FN, NC, incompletes, and missing grades count against percent completion because they result in zero credits earned for that course.
  • Transfer credits accepted and earned credits listed on the MSUM transcript are included in the percent completion calculation as attempted credits.
  • Percent completion is calculated by dividing the number of earned credits by the sum of MSUM attempted credits plus transfer credits accepted.

Academic Warning/Probation/Suspension Holds

Academic warning, probation, and suspension holds are placed after the grading period at the end of each semester. Students whose cumulative GPA and completion rate meet the minimum standards are considered in good standing.

A student whose GPA falls below 3.0 will be placed on academic warning for the next semester for which the student enrolls. For students enrolled in a graduate program, the record will be reviewed by the student's graduate program coordinator and a remediation plan may be developed. During the academic warning semester, a minimum of 3.0 GPA must be achieved as well as the satisfactory completion of a remediation plan. A student's failure to satisfactorily complete a remediation plan and achieve a 3.0 in the semester following the academic warning semester will result in suspension from the graduate school.

Time Limitation

Master's and Specialist Students

All requirements for the master's and specialist degrees must be completed within seven years (five years in Counseling and Student Affairs) after taking the first graduate course that will be included in the program of study.

A student, in consultation with his/her advisor, may petition the Graduate Studies Office for an extension of the time limitation. Extensions may be for one semester or a full year. Extensions will be considered on a per case basis. If the student has not finished the degree towards the end of a second extension, he/she must consult with his/her advisor and the college dean to determine if another extension is warranted. Any extension given may require a detailed plan of completion as well as additional or repeated course work and/or research. This will be determined by the graduate program coordinator and the college dean at the time that the extension is approved.

Graduate Written Comprehensive Examination, Oral Defense, and Research

In all graduate programs, a final integrating experience which assesses the body of knowledge that has been acquired through the course work and research is required. No degree is granted simply as the record of the accumulation of appropriate courses with adequate grades. The form of the final requirement differs among degree programs, but always includes an oral defense. In it, the examining committee discusses the dissertation, thesis or project/action research/portfolio, the creative endeavor, or the integrating paper, and assesses the student’s mastery of the several components of the degree course work.

Written Comprehensive Examination

Candidates in some graduate programs must demonstrate competence in the major field in a written comprehensive examination. The exam is normally taken at the completion of the coursework and prior to undertaking the research component of the degree program. The major department or program will determine the nature of the examination which must be satisfactorily completed and reported to the Graduate Studies Office. A student who fails the comprehensive examination may repeat it during a subsequent term with program approval. A second failure will result in termination of degree program enrollment.

Oral Defense

All graduate students, regardless of program, must complete a final oral defense.

Students who fail the final oral defense cannot receive a passing grade on the project or thesis and will not receive the degree. Students may repeat the oral defense during a subsequent term with program approval.

Research Components

Every doctoral candidate will register for nine credits of dissertation 799. Doctoral candidates will register for nine credits in the final two semesters of the scheduled eight semester cohort. Credit for the dissertation requires a successful dissertation defense in front of the dissertation committee and the completion of any related requirements as noted by the advisor.


A part of the program of every degree candidate completing a thesis is the demonstration of ability to do individual, independent work of a creative or investigative nature in an area related to the major field through the preparation of a thesis. The thesis will be supported by the work represented in 2 to 4 credit hours of registration in thesis 699. No more than 4 hours of 699 may be counted in satisfying the minimum requirements for a degree. Credit hour registration in a given term may vary with the nature of the study, according to the department or area, and on the previous agreement between the student and the advisor for expected research effort and adequate supervision.

Project/Action Research/Portfolio:

Students enrolled for Project/Action Research/Portfolio (692, 695, 696, 795, 796) complete a 1-6 credit project which will integrate the studies included in the individual's program. The project must be approved by the student's committee.

Research Involving Human Subjects:

If research is to involve human subjects, the research plan or project will be reviewed by an approved university procedure to assure the protection and rights of those subjects and the procedure established for obtaining informed consent. Research of this type may not be initiated until it has been approved by a thesis or project examining committee and the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Forms are available online on the IRB website. Allow at least four (4) weeks during the academic year for IRB approval .