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Master’s Degree Overview

The master's degree is awarded in recognition of academic accomplishment as demonstrated by a program of course work, passing of the required examinations, or the preparation of a thesis, project, or essay.

Master’s Program Planning Form

Master’s degree students must complete the Master’s Program Planning Form with their adviser, have it approved by their adviser and the director of graduate studies or chair, and submit it to the Graduate School before the end of their first term of study. The form is available online at the Graduate School forms website. This form constitutes a formal agreement between the student and the university, and outlines what must be done to complete the master’s degree. It may be changed by submitting a revised and approved Master’s Program Planning Form.

Foreign Language Requirements

Some programs require reading comprehension in one or more foreign languages. This requirement is used as an important tool to advance the scholarly and research efforts of the student. To determine foreign language requirements for a specific program, consult the Programs section of this bulletin.

There are a number of ways by which a student can complete the language requirement(s), including: taking a foreign language proficiency examination administered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; taking a three-credit, semester-long foreign language reading knowledge course (course number xxxx-6204) offered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; proving to the student’s departmental faculty that he/she has the necessary foreign language proficiency as evidenced by prior language study; or by taking an exam prepared and graded by the student’s academic department. The 6204 reading knowledge courses may only be taken for credit and may not be audited.

If the student chooses to take a foreign language reading knowledge course, the tuition for the course will be charged at the normal Graduate School tuition rate in effect at the time the course is being taken, and the language credits will be in addition to regular course credits required for that academic program and degree. The grades earned in the foreign language reading knowledge course will be included in the student’s term and cumulative credits and grade point average.

Students also have the option of taking a two-hour exam to fulfill a graduate degree program’s language requirement. The exam, graded SNC/UNC, assesses a student’s reading proficiency in a particular language through translation and comprehension questions about a foreign language passage. The student must register for the exam just like a regular course, and a $100 fee is assessed. If a student receives an unsatisfactory grade assessment, it is recommended that he/she complete the corresponding 6204 reading knowledge course. If the student decides to retake the exam outside of the course, the student would have to re-register for the exam and pay the $100 exam fee.

Whatever method is chosen, it shall be the responsibility of the student’s home department to determine what level of language proficiency is sufficient. It shall also be the department’s responsibility to notify the Graduate School of each student’s completion of foreign language requirements.

Specializations

A specialization (or sub-plan), normally consisting of twelve credits of course work in a specific field, may be required for some master's programs. When a specialization is required, it must be selected from those currently active within approved Marquette University programs. The specialization must be outlined on the Master’s Program Planning Form, found at the Graduate School forms website. For additional information, consult the Programs section of this bulletin.

Comprehensive Examinations

Candidates for a master’s degree in many departments must successfully pass a comprehensive examination on their total graduate program of studies. If a student fails, a second and final examination may be given at the discretion of the department, as each department administers its own comprehensive exams.

Students are encouraged to contact their program for specific information including deadlines and procedures. A department may require students to complete a specific course instead of passing a comprehensive exam. Generally speaking, this course may be taken only after the student has completed all of the other core course requirements.

Plan A and Plan B

The Graduate School offers the master’s degree under two plans: Plan A, which requires that the student write a thesis, and Plan B, which substitutes additional course work, a professional project, essay, and/or a comprehensive examination instead of the thesis. Some master’s programs allow students to choose either Plan A or Plan B. For plans offered in each program, consult the Programs section of this bulletin.

Students may submit a petition to the Graduate School requesting a change from Plan A to Plan B (or vice versa) providing they have permission from their program. A new Master’s Program Planning Form, available at the Graduate School forms website, must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School.

If a student changes plans after completing some or all of the required thesis or project courses, these credits will not automatically apply toward the revised degree requirements.

Plan A — Master’s Degree with Thesis

Minimum Credit Requirements

A minimum of 30 credit hours is required, including six hours of thesis credits and a minimum of 18 credit hours of course work in the major field. Some departments may require additional semester hours; students should consult the Programs section of this bulletin for more information. At least one-half of the minimum total course program credits (twelve credit hours in most programs, exclusive of thesis credits) must be taken at the 6000-level or above. In the major field, at least one-half (nine credit hours) of the minimum course program must be taken at the 6000-level or above. The remaining courses may be selected from among those undergraduate courses that are eligible for graduate credit.

Upper-division 5000-level courses are approved for graduate credit. With the approval of their department, students may take a limited number of 5000-level courses and count them toward their graduate degree requirements. Any exceptions to the total credits and minimum grade point average requirements for any degree and/or certificate must be approved by the provost.

Thesis Credits

Students must take six hours of thesis credit. Students who enroll in and pay for thesis credits will not be entitled to a refund of tuition for these credits if they should subsequently drop out, withdraw from their program, or transfer to a Plan B option.

Thesis Outline Form

Students must submit an outline for the proposed thesis or professional project. (No outline is required by the Graduate School for writing a master’s essay, although some departments may choose to require the form.) The outline will list the committee members which, for a master’s thesis, must contain a minimum of three voting members. Master’s thesis outline forms are available online at the Graduate School forms website.

Master’s Thesis

Although there is no Graduate School requirement that the student hold a formal, public defense, it is expected that some type of defense of one’s thesis be held. The format of this defense will be determined by the department. Whatever format is used, the results of the defense must be reported on the Master’s Thesis/Essay/Professional Project/Publication Approval Form, available at the Graduate School forms website. The defense will be considered successful, and the student passed, if a majority of the voting members of the thesis committee vote to approve the defense and the department chair signs to accept any nonunanimous vote.

In a master’s thesis, students demonstrate familiarity with the tools of research and scholarship in their major field, show thorough knowledge of the subject covered, and reflect independence of thought, critical insight and originality. The thesis must also be acceptable in style and composition. Students are required to follow the instructions on the Thesis Directives and thesis submission checklist, available online at the Graduate School forms website. A thesis that does not conform to the directives, including format specifications, will not be accepted by the Graduate School.

An electronic copy of the completed master’s thesis must be submitted online, on or before the deadline listed in the Academic Calendar. Although the student retains ownership and copyright privileges, a copy of the approved thesis will be considered a public document by Marquette University. The thesis may be placed in the Marquette University library, used by students and faculty, or otherwise released to the public unless restricted by the author. See the electronic theses and dissertations website for details.

Recording Thesis Defenses

In order to facilitate an open and honest dialogue, thesis defenses are not normally recorded. However, it is the policy of the Marquette University Graduate School to allow, with prior permission, the audio and/or video recording of a student’s thesis defense.

Common courtesy requires that the thesis committee chair and all committee members must be made aware, in advance of the defense, of the student’s desire to record the proceedings. Additionally, the chair and all committee members must assent to such a recording. Such written approval must include the signatures of the chair and all committee members, and the signed approval must be submitted to the assistant director for student records in the Graduate School prior to the recording being made.

If a thesis defense is recorded, all questions, statements, or other comments, whether verbal or written, remain the property of the person who spoke or wrote them, and any future use of the recording is subject to applicable copyright laws.

Plan B — Master’s Degree Without Thesis

Minimum Credit Requirements

A minimum of 30 credit hours is required and a minimum of 18 credit hours of the course work must be taken in the major field. Some departments require more semester hours; students should consult the Programs section of this bulletin. At least one-half of the minimum total course program (fifteen credit hours in most programs, exclusive of professional project credits) must be taken at the 6000-level or above. The remaining courses may be selected from among those undergraduate courses that are eligible for graduate credit. Consult individual program listings and department advisers to determine the specific requirements for Plan B programs.

Upper-division 5000-level courses are approved for graduate credit. With the approval of their department, students may take a limited number of 5000-level courses and count them toward their graduate degree requirements. Any exceptions to the total credits and minimum grade point average requirements for any degree and/or certificate must be approved by the provost.

Professional Project Credits

Academic units may require students to register for project credits or similar course work. Students who enroll in and pay for project credits will not be entitled to a refund of tuition of these credits if they should subsequently drop out of or be withdrawn from their programs.

Professional Project

In a project, students demonstrate familiarity with the tools of research and scholarship in the major field, show thorough knowledge of the subject covered, and reflect independence of thought, critical insight and originality. The project must be acceptable to the department in style and composition. Formatting of professional projects is at the discretion of the department. Thesis Directives, found at the Graduate School forms website, may be used as a guide.

An original copy and a Master’s Thesis/Essay/Professional Project/Publication Approval Form with appropriate signatures must be submitted to the Graduate School office on or before the deadline listed in the Academic Calendar.

Essay

In many graduate programs, a master’s essay may be required even though no formal credit is given for it and no outline is required by the Graduate School. Students should confer with their advisers about topics and guidelines for producing an acceptable paper, including requirements for length and references. An original copy of the essay and a Master’s Thesis/Essay/Professional Project/Publication Approval Form with appropriate signatures must be submitted to the Graduate School office on or before the date listed in the Academic Calendar. Essays must be acceptable to the department in style and composition. Formatting of essays is at the discretion of the department. Thesis Directives, found at the Graduate School forms website, may be used as a guide.
 

Doctoral Degree Overview

The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is awarded in recognition of high attainment and ability in a special subject field. Candidates are required to pass examinations that cover general and specific knowledge in their area of expertise, and prepare and successfully defend a dissertation based on independent, original and high-quality research that makes a significant contribution of knowledge to the field.

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program

Faculty from both doctoral and non-doctoral departments may propose interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs for individual students to the University Board of Graduate Studies. This provides students and faculty with opportunities for creative academic programming and research opportunities that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. Since there is no departmental structure to support these programs, certain understandings, commitments, and restrictions, beyond those required in regular doctoral programs, are necessary. Additional information appears in the Programs section of this bulletin. Direct specific questions to the Graduate School.

Application Procedures

Applicants must follow the instructions in the Admission and Readmission section of this bulletin. It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain information about any additional requirements from the Programs section of this bulletin, from the Graduate School or department websites, or from the director of graduate studies in the proposed program. Students with master’s degrees from Marquette are required to submit a new application to the Graduate School if they wish to be considered for doctoral admission.

Doctoral Program Planning Form

Students must prepare a program of study with their advisers that lists the steps and classes needed to complete their doctoral degree. The Doctoral Program Planning Form, available online at the Graduate School forms website, is used for this purpose. The approved Doctoral Program Planning Form constitutes a formal agreement between the student and Marquette University and, once established, may be changed only by formal amendment using the Doctoral Program Planning Form Amendment, available online at the Graduate School forms website. The Doctoral Program Planning Form should be submitted to the Graduate School no later than the end of the student’s first year. Course work, foreign language and residency requirements are accepted as part of a student’s doctoral program only after approval of the Doctoral Program Planning Form. If credits for a master's degree from another institution are to be recognized, students must be sure that a final, official transcript is on file at the Graduate School.

Credit Requirements

Depending on previous preparation and the nature of the research undertaken, the number of credits required for individual students, even within the same program, may vary considerably. Minimum credit requirements have, however, been established by the university and the Graduate School.

Upper-division 5000-level courses are approved for graduate credit. With the approval of their department, students may take a limited number of 5000-level courses and count them toward their graduate degree requirements.

The doctoral degree is the highest degree conferred by Marquette University. There are significant differences in degree requirements between the physical/natural sciences and other fields, and these are addressed below. However, in all cases, students must complete 12 dissertation credits and must satisfy the university’s residency requirements. The credit requirements listed below are the minimum established by the Graduate School. Individual departments may set their own requirements that meet or exceed these minimums.

Biological Sciences and Chemistry

A minimum of 24 credits of course work beyond the bachelor’s degree is required, plus 12 dissertations credits. In cases in which the student enters the program with a master’s degree in the same or closely related field, the student may request the department and the Graduate School to allow the master’s degree to satisfy up to 25% of the 24 required credits. In all cases, a minimum of 18 credits of course work exclusive of the dissertation must be taken at Marquette while in the doctoral program.

Any exceptions to the total credits and minimum grade point average requirements for any degree and/or certificate must be approved by the provost.

All Other Programs

A minimum of 45 credits of course work beyond the bachelor’s degree is required, plus 12 dissertation credits. In cases in which the student enters the program with a master’s degree in the same or closely-related field, the student may request the department and the Graduate School to allow the master’s degree to satisfy up to 50% of the required credits. In all cases, a minimum of 21 credits of course work exclusive of the dissertation must be taken at Marquette while in a Ph.D. or D.N.P. program.

Any exceptions to the total credits and minimum grade point average requirements for any degree and/or certificate must be approved by the provost.

Foreign Language Requirements

Some programs require reading comprehension in one or more foreign languages. This requirement is used as an important tool to advance the scholarly and research efforts of the student. To determine foreign language requirements for a specific doctoral program, consult the Programs section of this bulletin. If required, students must select one (or more) language(s) in which there is significant scholarly literature in their program field.

There are a number of ways by which a student can complete the language requirement(s), including: taking a foreign language proficiency examination administered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; taking a three-credit, semester-long foreign language reading knowledge course (course number xxxx-6204) offered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; proving to the student’s departmental faculty that he/she has the necessary foreign language proficiency as evidenced by prior language study; or by taking an exam prepared and graded by the student’s academic department. The 6204 reading knowledge courses may only be taken for credit and may not be audited.

If the student chooses to take a foreign language reading knowledge course, the tuition for the course will be charged at the normal Graduate School tuition rate in effect at the time the course is being taken, and the language credits will be in addition to regular course credits required for that academic program and degree. The grades earned in the foreign language reading knowledge course will be included in the student’s term and cumulative credits and grade point average.

Students also have the option of taking a two-hour exam to fulfill a graduate degree program’s language requirement. The exam, graded SNC/UNC, assesses a student’s reading proficiency in a particular language through translation and comprehension questions about a foreign language passage. The student must register for the exam just like a regular course, and a $100 fee is assessed. If a student receives an unsatisfactory grade assessment, it is recommended that he/she complete the corresponding 6204 reading knowledge course. If the student decides to retake the exam outside of the course, the student would have to re-register for the exam and pay the $100 exam fee.

Whatever method is chosen, it shall be the responsibility of the student’s home department to determine what level of language proficiency is sufficient. It shall also be the department’s responsibility to notify the Graduate School of each student’s completion of foreign language requirements.

Specializations

A specialization (or sub-plan), normally consisting of twelve credits of course work in a specific field, may be required for some doctoral programs. When a specialization is required, it must be selected from those currently active within approved Marquette University programs. The specialization must be outlined on the Doctoral Program Planning Form. For additional information, consult the Programs section of this bulletin.

Residency Requirement

The residency requirement is designed to immerse doctoral students in the campus community of scholars. It must be satisfied in the department in which the student is seeking a doctoral degree. The residency requirement is met when a student completes nine credits of course work, or its equivalent per term, for two terms within an 18-month period, or alternatively, completes at least 6 credits of course work, or its equivalent per term, for three terms within an 18-month period. Plans for the residency must be included on the Doctoral Program Planning Form. The credit load necessary to meet the six- or nine-credit requirement may be met by course work alone or course work in conjunction with dissertation credits.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

The DQE is an exploration of the student’s understanding in the program field and may be written, oral, or both. It may also include an explanation of the proposed dissertation. Some departments require students to pass cumulative examinations. Required elements for the DQE are defined by the student’s program department. The DQE is typically scheduled after all course work, language and residency requirements have been completed. Taking the DQE before all requirements have been satisfied requires written permission from the student’s department.

The exam is conducted by a committee made up of at least three faculty members from the student’s program. If the committee includes a non-Marquette member, the department must note this exception in writing and submit a request and a curriculum vitae for that person to the Graduate School.

Students who fail the examination may, with the consent of the academic department, be eligible to take a second examination after fulfilling all conditions stipulated by the doctoral examining committee. If the second examination is unsatisfactory, no further examination is permitted.

Official Doctoral Candidacy

Students advance to doctoral candidacy upon recommendation of their department, having completed all course work, language, and residency requirements, and passing the DQE. The departments shall notify the Graduate School in writing, using the Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy form found online at the Graduate School forms website, for all students recommended for candidacy.

Dissertation Process

Assembling a Dissertation Committee

Candidates select their dissertation committee with the assistance of their adviser. The committee must be comprised of a minimum of three voting members. The names of the members, including the chairperson, must be on the Outline for Dissertation, Thesis, Professional Project or Essay form, available online at the Graduate School forms website. If the committee includes a non-Marquette member, the department must submit a recent curriculum vitae for that member to the Graduate School with their Outline for Dissertation, Thesis, Professional Project or Essay form. The vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School appoints the dissertation committee by approving the outline form.

Doctoral Dissertation Outline Form

Students must submit an outline for the proposed dissertation on the Outline for Dissertation, Thesis, Professional Project or Essay form, typically within the first term that dissertation credits are taken, but no later than the deadline listed in this bulletin. The forms is available online at the Graduate School forms website. Outlines must be approved by the student’s adviser, the department chairperson, and the Graduate School. If the proposed research involves a real or apparent conflict of interest on the part of the student, the dissertation director, or the committee members, it must be declared at the time the outline is submitted.

Dissertation Credits

Students must register for 12 hours of dissertation credits and may enroll for these while working on their doctoral dissertation outline or dissertation. Each department determines the number of credit hours that a candidate may take during any one term. Students who enroll in, and pay for, dissertation credits before actually beginning work on their project will not be entitled to a refund of tuition of these credits even if they should subsequently drop out of or are withdrawn from their program.

Dissertation Directives

Directions for writing the dissertation and the dissertation submission checklist are available online at the Graduate School forms website. Students are strongly encouraged to consult both and to check with their departments for additional guidelines. The Graduate School updates the directives periodically and students are responsible for using the most recent version. Dissertations that do not conform exactly to the most recent directives will not be accepted by the Graduate School.

Writing the Dissertation

A dissertation demonstrates a student’s familiarity with the tools of research and scholarship in the field, shows thorough knowledge of the subject covered, and reflects independence of thought, critical insight and originality. The dissertation must exhibit the student’s mastery of the literature of the subject and familiarity with the sources, and be presented with a satisfactory degree of literary skill. Students are required to follow the instructions in the Dissertation Directives. Dissertations not conforming to the directives, including format specifications, are not accepted by the Graduate School.

An electronic copy of the completed dissertation must be submitted online through ProQuest, and the original, completed Dissertation Approval Form must be turned into the Graduate School office by the date listed in the online Academic Calendar. Students must consult the dissertation submission checklist prior to submitting the dissertation and must consult the Dissertation Directives for a complete list of forms and other requirements that must be turned in to the Graduate School at the time of submission of the dissertation. Although the student retains ownership and copyright privileges, a copy of the approved dissertation will be considered the property of Marquette University. Bound or microfilm copies may be made available to the public at the Marquette University library unless restricted by the author. See the electronic theses and dissertations website for details.

Public Defense of the Dissertation

A public defense of the dissertation is conducted after the candidate has completed all other formal requirements for the doctoral degree. The examination is primarily a defense of the dissertation. It will also include material relevant to the general field in which the dissertation is written, with particular attention to the more recent and significant developments.

The candidate and adviser select a date, during weekday working hours and avoiding public or religious holidays, for the public defense of the dissertation. If the student wants to graduate the same term the defense is made, the defense must be held before the deadline listed in the Academic Calendar. At least two weeks prior to the scheduled date for the dissertation defense, the student must submit a signed Announcement for Public Defense of the Dissertation form, available online at the Graduate School forms website. The form must be accompanied by an electronic version of the abstract in MS Word, emailed to grad.records@marquette.edu. All committee members must sign this form indicating their agreement to the date of the public defense.

The defense will be considered successful, and the candidate will be passed, if a majority of the voting members of the dissertation committee vote to approve the defense and if the department chair signs to accept any nonunanimous vote.

Recording Dissertation Defenses

In order to facilitate an open and honest dialogue, dissertation defenses are not normally recorded. However, it is the policy of the Marquette University Graduate School to allow, with prior permission, the audio and/or video recording of a student’s dissertation defense.

Common courtesy requires that the dissertation committee chair and all committee members must be made aware, in advance of the defense, of the student’s desire to record the proceedings. Additionally, the chair and all committee members must assent to such a recording. Such written approval must include the signatures of the chair and all committee members, and the signed approval must be submitted to the assistant director for student records in the Graduate School prior to the recording being made.

If a dissertation defense is recorded, all questions, statements, or other comments, whether verbal or written, remain the property of the person who spoke or wrote them, and any future use of the recording is subject to applicable copyright laws.

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