Master’s Degree Requirements
Specific Course and degree requirements for areas of graduate study leading to a master’s degree can be found by referring to the degree program from the Programs listing.
Master’s degree programs, including professional degrees, should include curriculum components that demonstrate the importance of research and writing skills in graduate education.
The School of Graduate Studies requires that all graduate programs introduce students to serious research opportunities. Regardless of whether the thesis or non-thesis option is elected, students are required to enroll in a departmental course which introduces them to the tools and methods of scholarly research.
Master’s degree programs will be offered through two (2) options (not all programs offer both options):
- Thesis Option-minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate coursework (including at least three (3) hours of credit for the thesis).
- Non-thesis Option-minimum of 33 credit hours of graduate coursework including a research requirement to be satisfied by one (1) or more courses which introduce the student to the tools and methods of research and scholarly activities and a writing requirement on a topic in the student’s major field which conforms to the style and standards of the discipline.
- Courses designated to satisfy the research requirement must be approved by the Graduate Council.
- The writing requirement must be approved by the Graduate Council.
All master’s degree programs should involve a culminating experience that includes an integrating activity and a comprehensive evaluation of the student’s performance:
- The integrating activity is intended to help students synthesize knowledge and skills acquired throughout the degree curriculum. The form of this activity may vary according to the particular discipline and may or may not involve academic credit. Examples include, but are not limited to, a thesis, analytical essay, artistic presentation, practicum, capstone project, and team consulting project. Departments and/or graduate program offices shall identify in the graduate catalog the integrating activity provided in each degree.
- A comprehensive evaluation of the student’s performance should include a written or oral examination or evaluation to determine whether the student has achieved mastery of the student’s discipline. Assessment of a student’s performance shall be made by a committee established for that purpose consisting of a minimum of three (3) ETSU graduate faculty members. Experts from outside the university are also permitted to serve on such committees, with approval from the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. The committee’s written assessment of the student’s performance shall become a part of the student’s permanent academic records.
The student’s performance in the final examination or evaluation may be classified into one (1) of three (3) categories. They may (1) pass; (2) fail with no opportunity for re-examination or re-evaluation; or (3) fail with an opportunity for further study and re-examination by the committee. The nature of such further study and a schedule for reexamining or re-evaluating the student’s performance will be established by the committee. A second failure by any candidate will result in the student’s dismissal from the graduate program.
The format of the final examination and standards for the three (3) categories of performance must be approved by the Graduate Council and should be included in the graduate catalog along with other degree requirements.
During the period before candidacy, graduate students are advised by the graduate program coordinator or advisor as assigned at the time of admission. Students should form the graduate advisory committee no later than the second semester in which coursework is undertaken. For students in a thesis option, the advisory committee also serves as the thesis committee and is responsible for guiding the student through the thesis research and writing, as well as accepting or rejecting the manuscript. The committee will assist the candidate in planning the program of study and research. It must be composed of at least three (3) faculty members who hold graduate faculty status; the committee chair must hold member or senior member status. In warranted circumstances, a fourth committee member who does not have graduate faculty status may be added if the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies approves the individual for a temporary graduate faculty appointment.
The advisory committee is responsible for administering the comprehensive examination to the master’s candidate and certifying that the candidate has completed all requirements in the program for the master’s degree.
If changes in the composition of the advisory committee are needed, an approval form, available at the School of Graduate Studies office, must be completed. It requires signatures of the retiring member(s), replacement member(s), the committee chair, the department chair, and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
Admission to Candidacy and Approval of the Program of Study
Admission to the School of Graduate Studies, and the approval to pursue a degree program, does not in any way imply that a student is admitted to candidacy for the master’s degree. To be admitted to candidacy the student must:
- Remove all conditions required at the time of admission by the School of Graduate Studies.
- Complete at least one (1) semester (9-12 hours) of study following admission to the School of Graduate Studies.
- Meet the specific requirements of the major department.
- Have an overall GPA of 3.0 and be in good academic standing.
- Submit the completed forms for admission to candidacy and an approved program of study to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
Ideally, the program of study is filed well in advance of the published deadline. When the application for candidacy is approved, the student may be considered a candidate for the graduate degree. When the program of study is filed with the School of Graduate Studies after the published deadline, graduation will be delayed until all program requirements have been verified.
Change in Program of Study - Changes in the planned program of study for candidacy must be approved by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Forms for program changes are available in the Graduate Studies office or through its web site.
All students who select this option will register for the appropriate thesis course, undertake a research project, and write a thesis. The thesis topic will be selected by the candidate with the advice and approval of the thesis director and committee. The student must prepare a prospectus describing the research problem, its full limits, and the research methods. A copy of the prospectus will be given to each member of the student’s committee. Changes in the prospectus may be made at the committee’s discretion, with the consent of the student. After the thesis topic has been researched and written, and approved by the advisory committee members, the oral defense must be scheduled with the School of Graduate Studies. Copies of the thesis should be distributed to committee members at least one (1) week prior to the oral defense. Following successful completion of the defense, the thesis must be prepared in final form, reviewed by the chair of the advisory committee, and submitted to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for review and approval through https://www.etsu.edu/gradschool/etd/
Submission of the Thesis - Students must submit theses in the format prescribed at the time of submission. All students submitting theses and dissertations must pay a microfilming fee. Students seeking exemption from electronic submission of the thesis will still be responsible for microfilming. More detailed instructions are available from the School of Graduate Studies .
The School of Graduate Studies publishes a Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, available from https://www.etsu.edu/gradschool/etd/guides.php
Graduate Faculty Representation at Thesis Defenses - The defense of the thesis is a formal gathering at which the master’s candidate presents and defends the thesis to members of the university community. The defense is a capstone event in the development of graduate students as scholars, professionals, or future teachers and must entail open and fair exchange of scholarly views. A member of the graduate faculty from outside the candidate’s committee and department must be present at the defense to monitor the process.
The procedure to be followed in scheduling an oral defense and the format for the graduate faculty representative’s narrative report are available in the Graduate Studies office. The defense must be scheduled according to dates specified in the Academic Calendar published in this catalog.
Education Specialist Degree Requirements
Requirements for the Ed.S. degree are included under Educational Leadership and Policy analysis in this catalog.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
- Requirements for the Ph.D. degree are included under Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Early Childhood Education, Environmental Health Sciences, Sport Physiology and Sport Performance, and Nursing sections in this catalog.
- Requirements for the Au.D. are included under Audiology section in this catalog.
- Requirements for the D.P.T. are included in the Physical Therapy section in this catalog.
- Requirements for the Ed.D. are included under Educational Leadership section in this catalog.
- Requirements for the Dr.P.H. degree are included in the Public Health sections in this catalog.
- Requirements for the D.N.P. degree are included in the Nursing section of this catalog.
Credits Earned Above Requirements for a Degree
When students earn credits in addition to those required in the planned program of study, a request may be made to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies to have the extra coursework defined on the transcript as post-degree credit. The request must be made prior to awarding of the degree and cannot be so defined once the degree is awarded. The School of Graduate Studies will not interpret or alter the transcript once the degree is awarded.
In order to graduate, students must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average overall and on the program of study for all degrees.
Intent to Graduate
Students must file an Intent to Graduate Form with the School of Graduate Studies no later than the end of the second week of the semester in which the student expects to complete the requirements for a graduate degree. If the student does not graduate in that term, a new Intent Form must be completed and submitted prior to the published deadline (see Academic Calendar.)
The time limit for the use of credit toward a certificate is four (4) to six (6) years. The time limit for the master’s degree is six (6) years. For the education specialist degree, the time limit is five (5) years from the date of enrollment in the earliest course applied toward the degree, including transferred courses.
The time limit for completion of the Ed.D. program by a student who holds the Ed.S. degree or equivalent is five (5) years from the date of enrollment in the earliest course applied toward the degree. The time limit for completion of the doctoral program by students who begin a program after a bachelor’s or master’s degree is seven (7) years from the date of enrollment in the earliest course applied toward the degree.
Revalidation of ETSU Coursework that Exceeds Matriculation Limits - It is the department’s responsibility to recommend to the School of Graduate Studies one of the following actions for revalidating course content in each instance that exceeds the matriculation limits. The department may:
- Examine the student (orally or in writing) and report the results to the School of Graduate Studies.
- Design an independent study if no course currently exists by which the student may update course content.
- Have the student repeat the outdated course.
- Have the student complete additional coursework.
This procedure may not be used to revalidate coursework for transfer purposes when the course already exceeds the matriculation limit at the time of application.
The School of Graduate Studies publishes graduation information for each term on its website and provides all deadline and instructions for meeting graduation requirements.