Chapter 2: The Master's Degree

Admission and General Requirements
The Supervisory Committee
The Program of Study
Courses
Grade Requirements
Inactive Status and Probation
Dismissal and Reinstatement
Foreign Language Requirement
Theses and Reports
Final Examination
Concurrent Bachelor/Master/Graduate Certificate Program

A. Admission and General Requirements

To gain admission to a Master's program, the student must be approved for admission both by the graduate faculty of the department or interdepartmental program and by the Graduate School.

A minimum of thirty semester hours of graduate credit is required for a master's degree, but some academic units may require more.

The Graduate School recognizes three different plans for a master's degree, and the graduate faculty in each academic unit may accept one or more of them. The three possibilities are:

1. Thesis option: As a part of the degree program the student will complete a thesis for 6 to 8 hours credit.

2. Report option: As a part of the degree program the student will complete a written report for 2 hours credit on research or on a problem in the major field.

3. Course work option: The student's degree program will consist of course work only, but it will include evidence of advanced work, such as term papers, objects of art, music, or designs, as determined by the committee.

Not all master's programs offer all three options, and a student may not select a plan that has not been approved by the graduate faculty of the program in which he or she is enrolled.

A culminating experience is required to earn a master's degree. The culminating experience should verify the student’s competence to synthesize information across the student’s program of study. The culminating experience will be completed prior to or during the semester the student plans to graduate based on the recommendation of the supervisory committee. The Supervisory Committee is responsible for administering the culminating experience and must include at least 3 graduate faculty members. The majority of the Supervisory Committee must vote in favor for the student to pass his/her defense (a tie vote is a failure). The major professor is responsible for returning the signed ballot to the Graduate School.

For students pursuing a thesis or report option, the culminating experience shall be a defense of the thesis or report.

For students pursuing a coursework only degree, the experience may be an interpretation of scholarly work, a test of the student's understanding of the field or other culminating experiences. It is the responsibility of the academic unit to provide culminating experience guidelines for each coursework-only master’s degree that the department offers. Examples could include concerts, portfolios, final written or oral examinations, case studies, or whatever the program deems appropriate.

To be awarded a master's degree, the student (a) must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, (b) must not be on probation, (c) must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher, (d) must meet all the requirements of the Graduate School, the student's academic program area, and the student's supervisory committee, and (e) must be enrolled during the semester in which the degree requirements are completed.

B. The Supervisory Committee

Upon admission to a master’s degree program, the student confers with the head of the academic program and selects an advisor or major professor pro tem from among the graduate faculty who are qualified to direct masters students and who are willing to assume the responsibility. Upon the recommendation of the head of the academic program, the Dean of the Graduate School then appoints a supervisory committee consisting of the major professor, who chairs the committee, and at least two other members of the graduate faculty**. In addition to the members recommended, the Dean of the Graduate School may appoint other members to the supervisory committee from the graduate faculty. All members of a student's supervisory committee participate as peers and have the responsibility for planning the program of study, advising the student, administering the final examination or evaluating the culminating experience, ensuring that University regulations and program requirements are met, and ensuring that the student’s masters program is of high quality.

The supervisory committee also is responsible for ensuring that no conflicts of interest exist. Conflicts of interest to be avoided include those that may arise from personal or professional relationships between committee members, committee members and the student, with funding sources, and with any other stakeholders.

C. The Program of Study

Every master's student must file with the Graduate School a Program of Study, a formal list of the courses the student intends to take to fulfill the requirements of the degree. The program of study should consist solely of courses directly related to the master's degree. Full-time students must file their programs before the end of their second semester of graduate study, and part-time students must do so upon the completion of 9 credit hours. The student should prepare the program of study in consultation with the supervisory committee, all members of which must indicate their approval by signing the Program of Study form provided by the Graduate School. The head of the academic unit must then endorse the Program of Study and forward it to the Dean of the Graduate School, whose approval must be received within the first two semesters of graduate work. Subsequent changes in the program of study require approval of all members of the supervisory committee, and if changes are made, a Program/Committee Change form should be submitted to the Graduate School before graduation. General guidelines for preparing a program of study posted on the Graduate School website should be followed when preparing a program of study.

D. Courses

Graduate study demands a high degree of intellectual aptitude. It presupposes a broad preparation and involves the acquisition of specialized knowledge. These facts should be reflected in the graduate student's program of study. Credits that were earned more than six years prior to the semester in which the program of study is approved cannot be accepted except as noted in Chapter 2, section D.6. 

D.1 Course Levels and Programs

Master's students should earn a significant majority of their credit hours in courses numbered 700 or above. Therefore, of the 30 to 32 credit hours normally required for the master's program of study at least 18 hours should be at the 700 level and above, including the thesis/research and the report/problems hours required by the thesis and report options (see Chapter 2.A). Courses at the 600-level may be included, but 500-level courses in the student's major area are expected to have been completed as undergraduate prerequisites to graduate study or as undergraduate deficiency courses assigned upon admission. The use of 500- level supporting courses in master's programs is therefore restricted as follows: (1) No course in the student's major area may be at the 500 level, and (2) normally no more than 6 credit hours may be at the 500 level.

D.2 Problems Courses

No more than 3 hours in problems or other individualized courses may be applied in a 30-hour program. No more than 6 hours in problems or other individualized courses may be applied in a program of more than 30 hours. 

D.3 Short Courses and Workshops

A student enrolled in a short course or workshop during the summer session may also take regularly scheduled courses but must be able to attend all sessions of both. Enrollment in a short course or workshop does not affect enrollment in research or problems. In no case may a student enroll for more than nine credit hours during the summer session.

D.4 S Courses

Departments may choose to offer certain courses or course sections that are primarily intended to teach or provide practice in skills and principles deemed important to a particular profession or discipline but that may not be applied to a master's degree program. Such courses or course sections are designated by the letter S.

D.5 Courses Applied Toward Two Degrees

No graduate student may use credit from the same course in meeting the requirements for both an undergraduate and a graduate degree, except as described in the concurrent B.S./master/graduate certificate programs approved by the Graduate Council.

Transferring graduate credit

a. Students who take two master's degrees may apply up to six hours of graduate credit from the first degree to the program of the second.

b. Students who wish to earn a master's degree after earning a doctorate may apply a maximum of 10 credit hours of doctoral work from the first degree toward the master's degree.

DVM Students enrolled in a Master's Program

a. For students concurrently enrolled in the DVM program and a Master's program, a maximum of 12 graduate credit hours from the College of Veterinary Medicine DVM curriculum may be applied to their Master's program of study.

b. For students who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree and are enrolled in the DVM program and a Master's program, the Master's degree shall be awarded concurrently with the DVM.

D.6 Transfer of Credit

Kansas State University accepts graduate credit from another institution only under the following conditions:

a. The other institution is accredited by the cognizant regional accrediting association to offer graduate degree programs appropriate to the level of the credit to be transferred;

b. The credit is fully acceptable to the other institution in satisfaction of its own advanced degree requirements; and

c. The credit is applicable to the student's program of study for an advanced degree at Kansas State University.

The program of study should consist solely of courses directly related to the master's degree.

Subject to the recommendation of the supervisory committee, master's students with professional doctorate degrees (DVM, MD, etc.) may include a maximum of 12 graduate credit hours from a professional doctorate degree in their 30-hour master's program. As an earned degree, the transfer credit is not subject to the six year time limit. 

Under normal circumstances, graduate credit transferred from other institutions may not exceed 10 credit hours for the master's degree, and then only for courses graded B or better. Credits that were earned more than six years prior to the semester in which the program of study is approved cannot be transferred except as noted above. Research conducted outside an academic program cannot be accepted for credit as part of a program of study.

D.7 Off-Campus Programs

A student who has satisfied requirements for admission to the Graduate School may receive credit toward a master's degree for off-campus courses taught by regular members of the Kansas State University graduate faculty or by others approved by specific action of the Graduate Council and the Faculty Senate. The department offering the course must obtain approval in advance from the Dean of the Graduate School and from the Graduate Council. The request for approval must include documentation sufficient to demonstrate that the quality of instruction will be equivalent to that of on-campus offerings.

D.8 Off-Campus Research

Special difficulties arise in guiding graduate students when they are engaged in protracted off-campus research, whether that research is in the field, in the laboratory, or in the library. Therefore, supervisory committees must take adequate steps to ensure appropriate guidance. As a minimal requirement, the student must submit to the supervisory committee a well formulated research plan, including objectives and methodology, and the committee must review and approve the plan before the student departs for the research site and indicate approval on the program of study. In addition, the supervisory committee may require:

a. That the major professor and/or a competent local authority who can reliably guide the student provide continuing on-site supervision.

b. That the student provide the supervisory committee with frequent, periodic estimates of performance and progress. The committee may also require that these be authenticated by a competent local authority.

c. That the major professor carry out local inspections of the student's activities.

Regardless of the location at which the research is conducted, the final oral examination will normally be given on the Manhattan campus. Exceptions can be made if requested by the student, recommended by the supervisory committee, and approved by the Department Head or Graduate Program Director and the Dean of the Graduate School. In the case of an examination in which the participants are not all in the same location, any technology used to conduct the examination must support simultaneous oral interaction between the student and all members of the examining committee. When unusual circumstances arise in the guidance of off-campus students, supervisory committees should consult with the Dean of the Graduate School.

E. Grade Requirements

E.1 Graded Work

Graduate work is graded A, B, C, D, F, credit/no-credit, pass/fail, incomplete, or withdrawn. For graduate credit, the grade in a course must be C or higher. To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

To be awarded a graduate degree, the student (a) must not be on probation (see Section F.2), (b) must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on graduate coursework and on coursework on the program of study, (c) must meet all the requirements of the Graduate School, the student's academic program area, and the student's supervisory committee, and (d) must be enrolled during the semester in which the degree requirements are completed.

E.2 Non-Graded Work (pass/fail, credit/no-credit)

At the discretion of the graduate faculty of the academic unit, seminars or colloquia in which letter grading conflicts with objectives may be offered on a credit/no-credit or pass/fail basis. Seminars and colloquia that are to be so offered must be listed with the Dean of the Graduate School.

All courses in the program of study except research (report, thesis, or dissertation) and seminars or colloquia that have been approved for credit/no-credit or pass/fail must be taken for letter grades. Research for master's reports and theses is graded credit/no-credit exclusively. Incompletes awarded while research is in progress are not subject to the incomplete policy for course work.

No more than 3 hours of credit/no-credit or pass/fail (exclusive of research credit hours) may appear on the program of study for the master's degree.

Apart from the program of study, courses may be taken credit/no-credit or pass/fail with the approval of the major professor and of the professor offering the course. These courses do not apply toward a degree.

E.3 Incomplete Policy

The grade of Incomplete (I) is given in regular courses (except for theses and directed research courses) upon request of the student for personal emergencies that are verifiable. The faculty member has the responsibility to provide written notification to the student of the work required to remove the incomplete. The student has the responsibility to take the initiative in completing the work and is expected to make up the I during the next semester (Fall or Spring) after receiving the grade (except for theses and directed research courses). If the student does not make up the I during the next semester after receiving it, a grade may be given by the faculty member without further consultation with the student.

If after the end of the next semester the I remains on the record, it will be designated as F (previously IX) for record keeping and will be computed in the student's GPA, weighted at 0 points per credit. A grade of NR will be treated in a like manner.

E.4 Retake Policy

If the student received less than 3.0 in a course, the student may retake the course with approval of the major professor and the supervisory committee. If the course is retaken by the direction of the major professor and the supervisory committee, the original grade is noted as retaken and removed from the grade point average. The retake grade will always be used in computing the grade point average regardless of whether it is higher or lower than the original grade. A student may retake a course with subsequent removal of the prior grade only once for each course and for a total of two courses in the program of study. An approved program of study must be on file in the Graduate School at the time the retake request is submitted. Retake requests must be made prior to enrolling in the course.

F. Inactive Status and Probation

F.1 Inactive Status

After consultation with the student's department/graduate program, a student not yet admitted to candidacy will be placed in inactive status if he or she is not currently enrolled and has not been enrolled during the previous two years.

Once in inactive status a student must reapply to (and be accepted into) a graduate program before being considered for re-entry by the Graduate School. In order to be allowed to resume graduate studies, the student must meet all requirements for entry in force at the time of the new application. Inactive students who seek to regain active status will not, however, be required to recreate materials submitted with their original applications and held in their files by the Graduate School.

If allowed to regain active status, the formerly inactive student will be subject to all requirements in force in his or her graduate program and in the Graduate School at the time the student returns to active status.

F.2 Probation

Students may be placed on probation as a condition of their admission to graduate programs, if warranted by their academic record (Chapter 1.C).

In addition, students who fail to make satisfactory progress in their graduate programs will be placed on probation. Either of the following conditions will warrant probation:

a. A grade point average lower than 3.0,

b. The recommendation of the major professor or student's committee that the student's progress is unsatisfactory.

F.3 Removal from Probation

Students on probation as a condition of admission will acquire good standing if they achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the first 9 credit hours of graduate level course work.

Students placed on probation for deficient grades will be restored to good standing if they achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. This must be achieved within 2 semesters for full-time students and within 12 credit hours for part-time students.

Students placed on probation after recommendation by the major professor or supervisory committee may be restored to good standing only following the notification by the major professor and supervisory committee that the students are making satisfactory progress.

G. Dismissal and Reinstatemet

G.1. Dismissal

A graduate student will be denied continued enrollment at Kansas State University for any of the following reasons:

a. Failure of a student admitted on probation to achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the first 9 credit hours of graduate coursework, or failure of a student to meet other conditions specified in the admission letter.

b. Failure of a student placed on probation for deficient grades to achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 within 2 semesters for full-time students and within 12 credit hours for part-time students (see F.3)

c. Failure to meet published departmental or University requirements.

d. Failure to maintain satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree.

e. Failure in the final degree examination(s) (see Chapter 2.K.3).

f. Failure to acquire mastery of the methodology and content in a field sufficient to complete a successful thesis or dissertation.

g. Qualifying for placement on probation a second time, except when the first period of probation is a condition of admission (Chapter 1.C) or when the second period is a condition of reinstatement (section G.2).

h. A recommendation for suspension or expulsion by the Honor Council.

G.2 Reinstatement

A student who has been denied continued enrollment may petition for reinstatement to the same program or for admission to a different one. The procedures for reinstatement are described in Appendix C Graduate Student Reinstatement Procedure.

Students whose petitions are granted are readmitted on probation as a condition of readmission. In such cases, the Readmission Committee usually stipulates enrollment in a specific number of hours or courses, as well as other conditions for probation. To regain regular status, the student who has been reinstated must satisfy conditions described in F.3 for removal from probation.

H. Foreign Language Requirement

The Graduate School has no requirement for a language other than English for the master's degree. Individual academic units may establish language requirements for their degree programs and may define the level of competence needed to satisfy those requirements.

I. Theses and Reports

I.1 General

A master's thesis presents the results of an original investigation of a problem or topic approved by the candidate's supervisory committee. Its purpose is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to conduct original research of a type appropriate to the academic discipline, to analyze the information obtained from the research, and to present the results in a form acceptable to the supervisory committee.

A master's report is generally shorter than a thesis, and it may present the results of a more limited original investigation. Alternatively, it may review the state of a particular scholarly or scientific problem, or especially in the case of professional programs or applied disciplines it may describe a project appropriate to the discipline.

Candidates who undertake a thesis or report should schedule their work to allow sufficient time for review by the major professor and the supervisory committee and for making any necessary revisions before proceeding to the final examination.

See Appendix B for more information on theses and reports.

With unanimous approval of the supervisory committee, a student majoring in Modern Languages may write a thesis or report in a language other than English, provided that the language is clearly appropriate to the subject matter.

The use of mailed questionnaires to gather material for the thesis is discouraged. If such a method is used, caution should be exercised in the interpretation of data.

I.2 Copies

The candidate must provide a copy of the thesis or report to each member of the supervisory committee and all members of the committee must certify that they have received acceptable copies of the thesis or report before a final examination can be scheduled. A copy of the thesis or report must also be available at the examination.

Following a successful final examination, the candidate must provide an electronic copy of the thesis or report to the Graduate School, which will be deposited with the University Libraries. Theses and reports submitted to the Graduate School must be in final and acceptable form, incorporating any revisions required by the supervisory committee. The final electronic copy must also conform to the stylistic guidelines adopted by the academic unit and to the physical requirements established by the Graduate School.

J. Final Examination

J.1 Nature

A culminating experience is required to earn a master's degree. The culminating experience should verify the student’s competence to synthesize information across the student’s program of study. The culminating experience will occur after the student has completed the program of study and other requirements or during the term in which the candidate intends to complete them. The Supervisory Committee is responsible for administering the culminating experience and must include at least 3 graduate faculty members. The majority of the Supervisory Committee must vote in favor for the student to pass his/her defense (a tie vote is a failure). The major professor is responsible for returning the signed ballot to the Graduate School.

For students pursuing a thesis or report option, the culminating experience shall be a defense of the thesis or report.

For students pursuing a coursework only degree, the experience may be an interpretation of scholarly work, a test of the student's understanding of the field or other culminating experiences. It is the responsibility of the academic unit to provide culminating experience guidelines for each coursework-only master’s degree that the department offers. Examples could include concerts, portfolios, final written or oral examinations, case studies, or whatever the program deems appropriate.

J.2 Scheduling

In the case of a candidate writing a thesis or report, the examination cannot be scheduled until the supervisory committee certifies that a satisfactory copy of the thesis or report has been presented. The candidate must file with the Graduate School an Approval for Final Examination Form signed by each member of the committee. By signing this form, the faculty member indicates only that the form of the thesis or report is acceptable for review and that a final examination may be scheduled. Signing does not imply that the content of the thesis or report is satisfactory. When the examination has been scheduled, the Graduate School will send a final examination ballot and an ETDR ballot to the major professor and notify in writing all members of the committee regarding the time and place.

Final examinations should also be scheduled so as to give the supervisory committee at least two weeks to review the thesis.

J.3 Failure and Repetition

Negative votes by two or more members of a three- or four-member committee constitute failure. A candidate who fails a master's examination may take a second examination no sooner than two months nor later than 15 months after the failure, unless an extension is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School. No third trial is allowed.

J.4 Competency Revalidation of Courses

If a student's program of study includes any course credits more than six years old at the time the student is about to complete all degree requirements, the final master's examination will normally include an examination over the body of course work listed on the program of study.

The form and content of this competency examination is determined by each master's program which may impose additional requirements for revalidating the student's competency in the supporting course work. In a master's program for which such a revalidation examination may be inappropriate, an exception to this policy may be sought from the Dean of the Graduate School.

K. Concurrent Bachelor/Master/Graduate Certificate Program

K.1 Nature and Rationale

The Concurrent Bachelor/Master/Graduate Certificate program offers the opportunity for outstanding students to advance their careers in a significant way by pursuing the Bachelor's and graduate degrees in a concurrent and coordinated program. Graduate opportunities include degree programs such as at the Master's level and other graduate credentials such as Graduate Certificate programs. Doctoral degrees are excluded from this concurrent program. The goal of this program is to provide the student with a high level of academic advising culminating in the preparation of a graduate program of study while the student is still in his or her sophomore or junior year. Graduate education involves a close working relationship between a student and a Graduate Faculty mentor, and the Concurrent Degree Program develops this relationship early in a student's career.

K.2 Procedures for Proposing a Concurrent Graduate Program

Graduate programs are invited to develop program specific guidelines for recruiting current undergraduates into the Concurrent Degree Program and for guiding students admitted to the program. These guidelines should include the time in the student's undergraduate career in which the student would be admitted into the graduate program (generally within 30-45 hours from completion of the undergraduate requirements) and the plans in place to provide the student with the high level of advising necessary for program success. These should outline any deviations from the standard undergraduate program and the standard graduate program, as these are considered in the Concurrent Degree Program. Should there be deviations (for example, should the program request that certain graduate coursework be also applicable to the undergraduate major), these will require approval at the college, Graduate Council, and Faculty Senate levels. One deviation from the standard programs may be the possibility that a limited number of hours taken for graduate credit can be applied to the Bachelor degree (not more than 9 hours).

K.3 Concurrent Graduate Program Guidelines

Initial admission to the Concurrent Degree Program occurs soon after the graduate program identifies the outstanding candidate. This typically occurs during the second semester of the sophomore year or the first semester of the junior year. Minimum standards for regular admission require a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0. The individual departments may require additional admissions criteria. Any interested student should contact the relevant graduate program.

The graduate program processes the application of the student by forwarding it to the Graduate School, as currently occurs for students applying to the normal program. Should the student meet the requirements, a provisional admission will be granted, pending the award of the bachelor degree.

The bachelor degree may be awarded at any time following the completion of the undergraduate degree requirements. Alternatively, the bachelor and the advanced degree may be awarded concurrently.

It is anticipated that a supervisory committee will be formed and a program of study filed soon after the student has achieved provisional admission. This recognizes the importance of excellent academic advising in the success of accelerated programs such as this.

 

** Special restrictions apply to visiting, part-time, adjunct, or emeritus faculty and to graduate faculty associates. See Chapter 5, Section D.