Iowa State University

Iowa State University

2009-2011 Courses and Programs

Iowa State University Catalog

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Graduate College

David K. Holger, Dean
George A. Jackson, Assistant Dean
Carolyn Payne, Assistant Dean

Master’s Degrees

General requirements for all master’s degrees are as follows:

General Requirements

The Graduate College Handbook outlines the general requirements for completion of a graduate degree at ISU. Faculty in a major field have the responsibility for establishing educational objectives for their graduate program, including specific course requirements and research requirements appropriate to the master’s programs in the major. These requirements may place additional responsibilities on the student, the major professor, or the student’s program of study (POS) committee beyond those listed in the Graduate College Handbook as deemed appropriate to the goals of the major program.

Faculty and graduate students are active participants in the academic programs of Iowa State University. As active participants, they have a collective impact on the success of those programs and of the university in fulfilling its mission. Each graduate program is encouraged to implement a mechanism for responding to feedback from graduate students as a valuable resource for continuing improvement.

Appointment of the Student’s Program of Study (POS) Committee

New graduate students at ISU may be assigned a temporary academic adviser by the major program in the first semester of the student’s residence. This faculty member guides the student in selection of a field of study and in development of a graduate program of study until the major professor and POS committee are selected. After the POS committee has been selected, it guides and evaluates the student during the remainder of graduate study.

A master’s POS committee consists of at least three members of the graduate faculty. It must include two members, including the major professor, from the major or program. The committee must include member(s) from different fields of emphasis so as to ensure diversity of perspectives. A term member of the graduate faculty may participate in the direction of a student’s master’s research as a co-major professor if a member of the graduate faculty serves as a co-major professor and jointly accepts responsibility for the direction of a program of study. For more information on duties and makeup of the committee as well as changes to the committee makeup, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Program of Study. The student and major professor develop the program of study with the consultation and approval of the POS committee. This agreement between the student and the Graduate College should be submitted as early as possible for approval. It is recommended that the committee be formed and the POS form submitted as early as the second semester of graduate study. In no case can the committee be formed later than the term before the final oral examination.

Residency. There is no on-campus residency requirement for the master’s degree.
Credits. Unless otherwise noted, at least 30 credits of acceptable graduate work must be completed in all master’s programs. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned from Iowa State University unless noted in the descriptions under “Specific Master’s Degrees” in this catalog.

Transfer Credits. At the discretion of the POS committee, and with the approval of the program and the Graduate College, graduate credits earned as a graduate student at another institution or through a distance education program offered by another institution may be transferred if the grade was B or better. Such courses must have been acceptable toward an advanced degree at that institution and must have been taught by individuals having graduate faculty status at the institution. If a student wishes to transfer credits from graduate courses taken at or through another university as an undergraduate student, it is the student’s responsibility to provide verification by letter from that institution that these graduate courses were not used to satisfy undergraduate requirements for a degree.

A transcript must accompany the POS in order to transfer credits. The POS committee may ask for other materials, such as a course outline or accreditation of the institution, to evaluate the course. Transfer courses not completed when the POS is submitted must be completed before the term in which the student graduates. A transcript must then be submitted for review and final approval.

Research credits earned at another institution are generally not transferred. In rare circumstances, the transfer of S or P marks may be accepted for research credits only. It is the responsibility of the POS committee to obtain a letter from the responsible faculty member at the other institution stating that research credits recommended for transfer with S or P marks are considered to be worthy of a B grade or better. Audits may be listed on the program of study, but do not carry credit.
Major. A major is an approved area of study leading to a graduate degree. The exact number of credits in a major is not prescribed.

Minor. Students may request a minor in any program approved to grant a graduate degree and in programs approved to offer only a minor. A student may not minor and major in the same field. Requirements for declared minors are determined by the minor program and the faculty member representing the minor field on the student’s POS committee.

The minor subject area must be tested at the final oral examination and cannot be placed on the transcript after graduation unless it was approved on the program of study, listed on all examination reports, and recorded on the “Application for Graduation” form (diploma slip). A minor cannot be added to a degree that has already been received.

Department/Program Change.

Transferring from One Major/Program/ Department to Another

Students who have been admitted to a graduate program and to the Graduate College may request to transfer at a later date to another department or program. Because graduate students are admitted to particular programs, transfers require the approval of both the receiving program and the Graduate College.

Students seeking transfer to another program or department should first discuss their wishes with the new program DOGE (Director of Graduate Education) to determine requirements and interest by the new program. When a student receives a favorable preliminary response from the new program, he or she should fill out the student portion of the form entitled “Request to Transfer from One/Major/Program/Department to Another” and submit this form to his or her current DOGE. The current DOGE will fill out the Current Program Information adding any comments he or she believes the new program should consider and forward the form to the proposed new program. This form is available from the department, the Graduate College, or the Graduate College web page.

The receiving program will generally give the student the same consideration and employ the same admissions standards that are used for original applications for admission and will expect the same application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, etc). During the process, the new and old programs and the Graduate College are authorized and encouraged to seek and disclose information related to the student’s overall fitness for studies in the receiving program. Programs are authorized to inquire into the student’s prior conduct at the university, both with the prior department and with the Dean of Students.

Upon departmental action (acceptance or denial), the request to transfer form must be sent to the Graduate College for approval. All parties will receive a copy of the completed form from the Graduate College.

Students desiring to transfer from a degree-seeking status to a nondegree-seeking status need to fill out the “Request to Transfer from One Major/Program/Department to Nondegree” form and bring it to the Graduate College.

Students desiring to transfer from nondegree-seeking status to a degree-seeking status must be admitted by a program through the regular graduate admission process.

Curriculum Change from Active Graduate to Active Undergraduate Status
Individuals who are in good standing in the Graduate College and who wish to transfer to an undergraduate curriculum must contact the graduate classification officer (1137 Pearson Hall). The classification officer will consult with the student and determine the proper course of action.
Curriculum Change from Inactive Graduate to Active Undergraduate Status

Individuals who were admitted to the Graduate College more than one year previous and who do not have active graduate status but who wish to change their status from inactive graduate to active undergraduate, must follow the same procedures required of reentering undergraduate students and must begin the process by filing a completed “Undergraduate Reentry” form with the Office of the Registrar. When considering reinstatement, the undergraduate college may consider the student’s overall fitness for continued studies including information about the student’s conduct, employment and education since the student’s last enrollment.

Individuals who do not have active graduate status and who first enrolled less than one year previous should first see the classification officer in the Graduate College.

Time Limits. It is expected that work for the master’s degree shall be completed within five years. In special circumstances the student’s POS committee may recommend that the Dean of the Graduate College extend these degree time limits. Cases in which the student leaves Iowa State during his or her graduate career and later returns are dealt with individually by the student’s POS committee and the Graduate College. The inclusion in the student’s program of study of course work that is beyond the time limits (“over-age” courses) must be justified by the POS committee in a statement accompanying the submission of the program of study.

Application for Graduation. Students planning to graduate must submit an “Application for Graduation” form (diploma slip) to the Graduate Office by the end of the first week of the semester (fall or spring) in which he/she expects to receive the degree, or by the last day of spring semester when wishing to graduate during summer.

Before submitting this form, a student must have submitted and had approved by the Graduate College a “Recommendation for Committee Appointment” form and a “Program of Study” form. Also the student must have been fully admitted to a program and have met the Graduate English requirement if he/she is a non-native English speaker. Graduation may be delayed if the “Application for Graduation” form filing deadline is not met. If it becomes apparent that a student cannot graduate during the indicated term, he/she should call the Graduate College (515-294-4531) and cancel the previously submitted “Application for Graduation” form. The student must then file a new form for the next planned term of graduation.

Thesis. A master’s thesis is a scholarly composition that demonstrates the ability of the author to do independent and creative work. A thesis is required in all fields in which a master’s degree is awarded, except where specific provision is made for a nonthesis degree program. A minimum of three research credits is required on every program of study for a thesis master’s degree.
Responsibility for writing and editing of the thesis rests with the student, under the supervision of the major professor, and not with the Graduate College. The Graduate College does not permit joint authorship of theses. It is the responsibility of the major professor to supervise the preparation of preliminary and final drafts of the thesis to assure the highest level of quality when the student presents the thesis to the committee for final approval.

Copies of the thesis must be submitted to the members of the POS committee at least two weeks before the final oral examination.

All theses and dissertations will be submitted electronically after the final oral examination is held. Please browse the Graduate College’s web site ( for requirements, revised fees, and other pertinent information.

Shortly after the submission of the “Application for Graduation” form, a one-time, nonrefundable thesis fee is billed by the university accounting system. In addition, a graduation fee will be assessed by the Registrar’s Office. This fee is nonrefundable if a student does not cancel his/her graduation by the Graduate College’s cancellation deadline.

Creative Component. Most nonthesis students must present substantial evidence of individual accomplishment (e.g., a special report, capstone course, integrated field experience, annotated bibliography, research project, design, or other creative endeavor). A minimum of two credits of such independent work is required on those programs of study for a nonthesis master’s degree. Some programs require more credits. (For more information, contact the individual program or consult the Specific Master’s Degrees section in this catalog.) The element of creative independent study must be explicitly identified on the program of study. The format of the creative component is determined in cooperation with the POS committee. As with a thesis, a creative component should be submitted to members of the POS committee two weeks before the final oral examination. However, no final submission of a creative component is turned in to the Graduate College for review and approval.

Final Oral Examination. Most master’s candidates must pass final oral examinations. The final oral examination must be held by the final examination deadline date for the semester in which the degree is granted. All coursework in the program of study must either be completed or in progress before the final examination can be scheduled. This examination is oral; it may also include a written component if specified by the student’s (POS) committee.

Graduate students must register at Iowa State for the equivalent of two credits, or for the R-credit course GR ST 600 (Examination Only) if no course work is needed, during the semester in which the final examination is taken. (Graduate students who are not required to take a final oral examination should complete all required coursework on the POS prior to or during the term of graduation. Any transfer credits must be completed the term before the graduation term and follow normal transfer rules.) Taking only an R-credit course where the fee is not equivalent to the 2-credit minimum charge is not acceptable for the term of the final oral examination. If the examination is taken during the interim between terms (including the first day of classes), registration can be for either the term before or the term after the examination is held.

The candidate is responsible for initiating the “Request for Final Oral Examination” form, which must be submitted to the Graduate College at least three weeks before the examination. This form can be obtained only from the student’s program/department. The entire POS committee must be convened for the final oral examination. For more information on the final oral examination, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Graduate Student Approval Slip for Graduation. Every candidate for an advanced degree is required to complete a “Graduate Student Approval Slip for Graduation” form. It is sent to the major professor or program to give to the student after the “Request for Final Examination” form is received and approved by the Graduate College. Signatures are required by the major program, the Graduate College Thesis specialist (for those completing a thesis), and the Graduate College. Final clearance of academic requirements will be made when current term grades have been submitted and evaluated by the Graduate College.

All incompletes from previous terms must be completed by the deadline for completion of the Graduate Student Approval Slip. An incomplete or non-report grade that a student receives for the term of graduation will result in removal from that term’s graduation list. The student will need to complete a new Application for Graduation and Graduate Student Approval Slip for the new term of graduation. If a conditional pass was recommended at the final oral examination, the major professor and the committee members, if so specified, must notify the Graduate College in writing no later than the due date for the Graduate Student Approval Slip for the term of graduation that the conditions have been met.

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Graduate Study, Appointments Degree Requirements-Ph.D.
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Information for Undergraduates Graduate Certificate Programs
Concurrent Programs Specific Master's Degrees
Master's Double Degree Programs