Graduate Degree Requirements

Op3.19-1 Master's and Specialist Degree Requirements

To complete a master’s or specialist degree, a candidate must:

  1. Complete the minimum number of credit hours required for the graduate program (minimum hours for different programs range from 30 to 83). Keep in mind that courses taken for undergraduate credit may not be used on the Program of Study for a master’s or specialist degree;
  2. Complete at least one-half of the minimum semester hours in courses numbered 700 or higher, which signifies that there are no undergraduate parallel courses associated with them. Graduate courses provide a graduate-level experience, and differ from undergraduate courses in the expectations/requirements;
  3. No more than 49% of the required semester hours may be fulfilled by combining senior permission (up to 12 hours), courses taken prior to admission to the program (up to 30%), transfer (up to 30%), and assessment of prior learning;
  4. Attain a grade point average of at least 3.0 on all graduate work utilized in the degree program that includes Missouri State University and transfer courses;
  5. Satisfy a research requirement;
  6. Pass a comprehensive examination (applies to all programs except the MBA, MAcc, MHA; Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies; MS in Applied Behavior Analysis; MS in CIS, MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice; MS in Cybersecurity; MS in PAS and MS in Project Management);
  7. Meet all additional program-specific degree requirements; and
  8. Complete all requirements within an eight-year period (exclusive of time spent in the U.S. Armed Forces).

Op3.19-2 Doctoral Degree Requirements

The completion of a doctoral program indicates the attainment of the highest possible training and intellectual development in one’s discipline. As such, the rigor of a doctoral degree program is necessarily higher than that of a master's degree program, and is set above the level that an average student would generally be able to attain. Because the requirements for completion of a doctoral degree are discipline-specific, and often linked to national accreditation standards, some programs may have higher/additional requirements. Nonetheless, minimal university-wide standards include:

  1. All students much complete the stated courses and minimum number of required credit hours for the program. Keep in mind that courses taken for undergraduate credit may not be used on the Program of Study for a doctoral degree.
  2. Complete at least one-half of the minimum semester hours in courses with no undergraduate parallel course.
  3. No more than 49% of the required semester hours may be fulfilled by combining senior permission (up to 12 hours), courses taken prior to admission to the program (up to 30%), transfer (up to 30%), and assessment of prior learning.
  4. Attain a grade point average of at least 3.0 on all graduate work utilized in the degree program that includes Missouri State University and transfer courses.
  5. All students must complete a doctoral research project, to be directed by a faculty member from their discipline with Graduate Faculty in Research status.
  6. In addition, each project will be supervised by a Doctoral Research Committee. Each will consist of at least two (2) additional faculty members with Graduate Faculty status (research, clinical/practitioner, or performance). For doctoral students who are completing a doctoral thesis, their committee will also have a fourth member from outside the department who has Graduate Faculty status in Research.
  7. Presentation of the research results (thesis or project) at a forum approved by the department (except in Doctor of Nursing Practice).
  8. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in all course work associated with the degree.
  9. Satisfactory completion of a comprehensive exam, as specified by the department (except in Doctor of Nursing Practice).
  10. Students must complete all degree requirements within an eight-year period (excluding time spent in the United States Armed Forces).
  11. Students must meet all program-specific degree requirements (including research, practicum, comprehensive examination, etc).

Op3.19-3 Advisement

Graduate students are assigned an advisor at the time of admission.  The advisor’s name and phone number are listed on the Admission Recommendation which notifies a student of acceptance into a program.  In some cases, the graduate advisor will be changed once a student is fully matriculated into the program.  This occurs most often when a research topic is chosen and it is appropriate for a different faculty member to direct that project.  The role of the graduate advisor is to:

  1. Assist the student in the selection of course work for his/her graduate program;
  2. Evaluate transfer credits as acceptable for meeting requirements;
  3. Recommend acceptance or rejection of all graduate course work toward the program of study as shown in the student's degree audit; and
  4. Advise and assist the student -in completion of all Missouri State University and departmental requirements for degree.

It is extremely important that students have early contact with their advisor and gain advisor approval before registering for classes.  The advisor is a key person in helping individuals plan their graduate program, ensuring that classes fit the program, planning an appropriate class sequence, and providing other input that ensures a student is successful in their graduate program.  All degree-seeking students must have the advisor complete an electronic release prior to registering via the web, in person, or by fax or mail registration.

Op3.19-4 Degree Audit

The student’s degree audit is used to show requirements necessary to complete for a degree.  A student can view the audit the first day of classes for the semester after admission into a graduate program.

  1. It is essential that students meet with their advisor before registering for courses each semester.
  2. Grades of "C-" and below will not be applied to a student’s degree audit.
  3. At least one-half of the minimum semester hours must be in courses with no undergraduate parallel course (i.e., courses at the 700 level or higher).
  4. Undergraduate courses may not be used on a student’s degree audit for a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree.

Op3.19-5 Research Requirement

Most of the Missouri State University master’s programs provide for either a Thesis, Seminar/Degree Paper Option, or Internship Option as the research component to be completed in partial fulfillment of the degree requirements. Refer to specific departmental regulations in this catalog regarding their research requirements.

Thesis option

A maximum of 6 hours of thesis credit shall be applied toward the minimum hours required for a master’s degree. Guidelines explaining the requirements for the preparation of a thesis are available in the Graduate College or online at (under Current Student Resources). Registration in a course number 799 and title designated "thesis" is limited to students pursuing completion of a thesis. A thesis is supervised by the student’s advisory committee, which consists of three to five persons. A minimum of three, including the chair of the committee, must be members of the Missouri State University Graduate Faculty. The thesis shall be approved by the committee and by the Graduate College before the degree is granted.

Seminar/degree paper option

This option requires the completion of an extensive seminar/degree paper or creative work.  The advisor for the degree paper must approve the final research paper.  In some cases, evidence of fulfillment of the research requirement is shown through the successful completion of a certain course. In other instances, evidence requires the advisor to complete a Seminar Report form that is approved by the Graduate College. Students should check with their academic department to determine if this form is required. Departments may or may not require an advisory committee for students electing the seminar/degree paper option for meeting the research requirement.

Internship option

A maximum of 6 hours of internship credit can be applied toward the minimum hours required for a master’s degree. Guidelines explaining the requirements for the completion of an Internship will be outlined by the department. An Internship receives prior approval, and is supervised by a MSU graduate faculty member and the internship site supervisor.

Research compliance requirements

Missouri State University requires that all research involving human subjects in any way, regardless of the source of support funds, must be reviewed by the Protection of Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it is undertaken. Applicants are required to complete online training before engaging in projects involving human participants. The Privacy Rule of the Human Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains additional requirements for anyone conducting human participant research that involves protected health information; online training is available on HIPAA for researchers.  Research involving recombinant DNA techniques and other biohazards (e.g., infectious or venomous agents) must be reviewed by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). The IBC reviews the proposed research and consults with researchers on biosafety procedures; trains faculty, staff, and students involved in biohazardous research to obtain compliance with appropriate rules; and does surveillance of laboratory accidents involving biohazardous agents. The U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals requires institutions to establish and maintain proper measures to ensure the appropriate care and use of all animals involved in research, research training, and biological testing activities conducted or supported by the PHS. In accordance with this policy, the University requires that all projects proposing to use live vertebrate animals be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Participation in animal care and use training is required for anyone involved in using animals in research or teaching. Students, faculty, and staff who work with animals in educational and research activities are required to enroll in the Animal Occupational Health and Safety Program. This includes those who handle or are exposed to animal tissues, fluids, secretions and/or excretions, as well as those who handle cages and other equipment potentially exposed to animal tissues or excretions.

Graduate College

Complete information on training and documentation requirements can be found online through the Office of Research Administration. All required training and documentation must be done prior to initiating research. No research will be accepted by the Graduate College if these requirements are not met.

Op3.19-6 Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Exam

All graduate degrees are required to conduct a culminating assessment of student learning. Some graduate programs do this in the context of a capstone course, and others require that students pass a comprehensive examination in order to be awarded a degree. Comprehensive examinations vary in format and structure, as well as the times they are administered. In order to facilitate successful performance on their comprehensive examination, graduate programs must:

  1. provide adequate information regarding format and content of the examination and the time(s) it will be offered in order to promote optimal preparation;
  2. validate evaluation or scoring procedures;
  3. provide detailed feedback if the examination is not initially passed, including specific examples of unacceptable performance and offer additional support and in an effort to assist the student in meeting expected levels of performance;
  4. give at least one opportunity to re-attempt the examination if not initially passed within a reasonable timeline and specify the maximum number of repeat attempts allowed before recommending dismissal.

The department must forward results of the comprehensive examination to the Graduate College no later than the last day of class in a semester. These results will be entered into the University system (Banner) and will be reflected in the student’s degree audit.

Program Dismissal Due to Failed Comprehensive Examination

If a student does not pass the program’s comprehensive examination after all re-attempts have been exhausted:

  1. The student will be notified in writing that s/he is being dismissed from the program at the end of the current semester due to a failure to pass the comprehensive examination. Notification of dismissal should occur as soon as possible. Either the faculty or the student may request a meeting to discuss the dismissal decision and notification.
  2. The student may appeal his/her dismissal to the Dean of the College within five (5) business days of receiving notification of such dismissal.
  3. The student may appeal a decision to uphold the dismissal by the Dean of the College to the Dean of the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost within five (5) business days of receiving notification of the Dean of the College’s decision.
  4. A decision to uphold the dismissal by the Dean of the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost may be appealed to the President of the University within five (5) business days of receiving notification of the Dean of the Graduate College/Office of the Provost’s decision. The decision of the President is final.

Op3.19-7 Graduate Transfer Credit

On a case-by-case basis, Missouri State may accept graduate credit earned at other regionally accredited institutions or well-established international institutions. Acceptance of transfer credits on a graduate degree program occurs through recommendation of the student's major advisor and approval of the Graduate College. Transfer hours may count for up to 30% of the required hours for a degree. The policy on transfer credit also applies to students who are currently enrolled in, but have not completed, a graduate degree program at another institution.  As with all credits applied toward a graduate degree, transfer credits must have been earned within the eight-year time limit for a degree program. Grades on transfer courses accepted in the degree program are included in the overall graduate grade point average.

Collaborative Agreements

The limitation on transfer credit may be superseded when the university develops a collaborative agreement with another institution for delivery of an academic program. In cases where Missouri State University shares program responsibility with another institution, both institutions may teach courses that might be applied to a degree program. For more information on a specific program, see the appropriate section of the catalog.

Op3.19-8 Second Master's Degree

A student who has been awarded a master’s degree at Missouri State University or at another accredited institution may be approved to transfer up to 30% of the total hours required for the second degree at Missouri State University. All courses must be approved by the advisor. This same policy applies to a student who is admitted to and working on two degree programs at Missouri State University at the same time. All courses must be approved by the advisor. Anyone working on an advanced degree at another institution, but who has not completed the degree, may be approved to transfer up to 30% of the total hours required for the Missouri State University program of study. (See Transfer Credit).

Op3.19-9 Grade Requirements for Degree

No course with a grade "C-" or below may be applied toward a graduate degree or graduate certificate. A graduate student becomes ineligible to continue in the current graduate program if more than 9 semester hours of "C+" or lower are earned in graduate courses taken in the degree program, or if the student does not meet any additional specific degree retention requirements imposed by a department or program.

Op3.19-10 Graduation

The deadline for the Application for Graduation is the first week of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. A student is advised, however, to apply in advance of the semester that they intend to graduate.

  1. Complete the online Graduate Application to Graduate located under the Academics Tab, Commencement Channel, in My Missouri State
  2. Students should work closely with the advisor to ensure that all of the degree requirements are met.
  3. Students who have completed all course work and are only working on their research component may sign up for GEN 798 (Active in Research). This zero credit course offered at a reduced fee ($75) allows the following:
    • access to the library, including online services such as interlibrary loans, MOBIUS, and restricted access databases;
    • opportunity to purchase a parking permit; and
    • access to computer services and campus email.

GEN 798 is graded as "P" (pass) or "N" (if the student discontinues participation and is dropped from the course). A special permission form is required which includes approval by the student's advisor, department head, and the Graduate College.