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Academic Policies: Master's Degree – The Graduate School Manual

Advising and Guidance

At the beginning of a student's work toward the master's degree, the Dean, chair or director of graduate studies in his or her program designates a principal advisor. The principal advisor may be the director of graduate studies or another faculty member. If a student has a faculty guidance committee, the committee chair is the principal advisor. The principal advisor is expected to meet periodically with the student to discuss his or her progress.


Requirements for a Master's Degree

The Bulletin stipulates the specific requirements for a masters' degree in each program of the University. In addition to any specific program requirements, Graduate School policy requires the following:

  1. Continuous registration, including the semester (fall, spring, summer) in which final degree requirements are completed.
  2. Completion of at least 24 credit hours of graduate coursework in residence, exclusive of a thesis, plus total number of credit hours required by the degree program. Transfer credits require approval of The Graduate School.
  3. Maintenance of at least a B (3.0) average in courses approved by the department or school graduate committee and presented for the degree. All courses for which the university has provided financial support to the student count as "presented for the degree".
  4. Fulfillment of all departmental or school course requirements. No credit is granted for graduate courses in which a grade lower than a C- has been received.
  5. Demonstration to the examination committee, by means of a master's examination (written and/or oral) and required papers or thesis, of familiarity with basic hypotheses and techniques of the discipline and competence in applying them.
  6. Completion of any research skills requirements.
  7. Completion of any additional work that may also be required.
  8. Fulfillment of any intra- and inter program major and minor requirements.
  9. Completion of all requirements, including thesis if required by the program, within five years after admission to The Graduate School.
  10. Completion of all courses in progress, and posting of final grades on the student transcript. The student should work with the department to attain final grades for all courses; students with in progress grades or missing grades cannot be conferred a degree.


If a general examination is required for the student's masters' degree, the Dean, chair or director of graduate studies in the program appoints an examination committee. The examination committee consists of at least three faculty, one of whom is normally the principal advisor. The examination may be written or oral, or a combination of both. The decision for pass or fail shall be by majority vote of the examiners.


Master's Thesis


If a thesis is required for the master's degree, the dean, chair, or director of graduate studies designates a thesis committee consisting of at least two members of the faculty who supervise and approve the thesis, with one of these designated as first supervisor.

The principal advisor may also serve as first supervisor of a student's thesis. If the student has an advising committee, it may also serve as the thesis committee. Programs may designate additional examiners for the master's thesis beyond the two thesis supervisors.

Only faculty with the formal (tenured or tenure-track) rank of assistant, associate or full professor in an academic department offering advanced degrees may serve as members of graduate student thesis committees. The Vice Provost and Dean of The Graduate School may approve exceptions to these restrictions in specific cases. Requests will not be considered without submission of a current curriculum vita and letters of endorsement from the chair or graduate director of the department offering the advanced degree or the dean of the school. Upon such approval, individuals who are not members of the graduate faculty may serve as members, but not as faculty advisors or chairs of graduate student thesis committees.

Preparation of Thesis

The Master's thesis should conform to the Guidelines for Preparing a Thesis or Dissertation outlined in the Graduate Student Handbook

Submission and Binding

All of the following steps must take place by the deadline indicated in the academic calendar. You will review The Graduate School's ETD Procedures, register at the actual "submission website", enter basic information about you and your work, complete the non-exclusive publishing agreement, attach your document, and hit Submit. No part of the submission is registered until you click the final Submit button. The Graduate School then reviews your submission, makes sure your academic record is complete and that all required fees are paid, then submits your work to ProQuest/University Microfilms International (UMI). You will be notified by email about the status of your submission. UMI prepares archival digital copies and microfilm copies, both of which are maintained in perpetuity and migrated to new storage media as necessary, in accord with UMI's contract with the Library of Congress. UMI then disseminates your work to various bibliographic databases and indexes, and publishes a full-text copy of your work on a website available to the Binghamton University community ("see Current Research at Binghamton"). Readers outside of Binghamton may find your dissertation and purchase copies directly from UMI.

Before you begin, be sure that you have the following:

  • Full text of the thesis or dissertation in PDF format. This must be one file. It is generally advisable to convert your own work to PDF before beginning the electronic submission. If your manuscript is in Word or RTF format, you may convert it to PDF format at the Proquest/UMI website. You will be able to review your final PDF file at any time. You may also convert your work to PDF format using: For help on creating your own PDF file, please consult with the New Media Resources Center, CC 203A, 607-777-6143, your department or program, or The Graduate School.
  • UMI Abstract (150 word limit for Master's Theses; 350 word limit for Doctoral Dissertations). The UMI abstract may be an edited version of the abstract in the document.
  • Optional supplementary files ("images, sound, etc.") that are an integral part of the dissertation, but not part of the full text.

Thesis or dissertation formatting questions should be directed to The Graduate School at (607) 777-2152.


Graduate Application for Award of Degree

Master degree students must file a Graduate Application For Degree (GAFD) form at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to complete all degree requirements and graduate. This serves as notification to both The Graduate School and the department of a student's intent to graduate. The GAFD can be accessed from The Graduate School website under "New and Current Students--Academics--Degree Completion." A student can also go directly to the University's Commencement Website to file the GAFD. The GAFD is valid for one semester only. If a student files a GAFD but fails to graduate, she or he must submit a new application for degree survey in the following semester or the next semester of intended completion.

Awarding of the Degree

When the student has satisfied all requirements for a master's degree, the director of graduate studies submits a "Recommendation for Award of Master's Degree" form to The Graduate School by the required deadline. If submitting a thesis, this form should be submitted with the thesis when possible.



For students not submitting a thesis, the degree completion date for fall and spring semesters is the Thursday prior to commencement. The final day for students to submit theses to The Graduate School is 10 days before Commencement. Degree completion dates for summer are available from The Graduate School. Students who have not completed all degree requirements by the established deadlines will not graduate, and are required to register the following semester.

Degree Conferral and Commencement

Degrees are conferred three times each year: December, May and August. Students who complete degree requirements in the fall semester are awarded degrees in December; students who complete degree requirements in the spring semester are awarded degrees in May; students who complete degree requirements in summer are awarded degrees in August. Formal investiture of summer and fall degrees will occur at the annual fall commencement; investure of spring degrees will occur at the annual spring commencement. Information regarding spring commencement is mailed in mid-March to all students who have declared themselves candidates; information on fall commencement is mailed in October. (Commencement details are distributed via Binghamton University email addresses; thus, it is imperative that candidates have access to their BU email accounts.) To be eligible to participate in either commencement ceremony, the graduate program must submit the "Recommendation for Award of Doctoral/Master's Degree" form to The Graduate School by the required deadline. There can be no exceptions.


When "Completion Letter" is Needed

Students who complete ALL degree requirements well in advance of the awarding of the degree may, upon request to the Degree Completion Secretary, receive a statement signed by both the Registrar and the Dean of The Graduate School certifying that all requirements for the degree have been completed. PLEASE NOTE: Once degree conferral processing for the semester in question has begun no completion letters will be issued.

Checklist For Completion of Degree Requirements

"No thesis" option

  • Are you maintaining continuous registration
  • Have you completed (or have you nearly completed) the minimum required credit hours for your degree program (please keep in mind the 24 credit hour residency requirement as a graduate student)
  • Have you successfully completed any additional departmental programmatic requirements (e.g. internship; termination project)
  • Have you filed a Declaration of Candidacy with The Graduate School for the semester you intend on completing all degree requirements to graduate
  • Have you addressed any incomplete or missing grades on your academic record, ensuring ample time (two weeks is recommended) for your professor to grade any incomplete courses or to resolve any missing grades prior to the last day of classes
  • Have you cleared up any financial obligations
  • Has the department submitted (on your behalf) the Recommendation for Award of Degree form to The Graduate School by the degree completion deadline

"With thesis" option
Completion of all of the above items plus:

  • Is your thesis in acceptable format as outlined in the 'Guidelines for Preparing or Submitting a Dissertation or Thesis'
  • Have you made your thesis document into a PDF file for the electronic submission?
  • Have you submitted your thesis electronically through The Graduate School Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Submission Website
  • Have you submitted your thesis processing fee form and payment (check or money order only) to the Graduate School office?

Double-Degree Accounting

Students admitted to a graduate program may, within certain guidelines, double-count some courses for credit toward two degrees. A candidate for two degrees of the same rank (e.g., master's degrees) in separate disciplines may be allowed to take advantage of double degree accounting in accordance with the following guidelines:

For students working toward two MA or two MS degrees (in different disciplines), no double accounting is permissible.

For a student working toward an MA (in one discipline) and an MS degree (in another discipline) simultaneously, a maximum of three courses (12 credit hours) may be double counted (assuming they meet graduate program requirements). Double counting is similarly permissible for combinations of MA or MS degrees with the MBA degree (assuming they meet graduate program requirements).

For Ph.D. degrees, decisions about double-degree accounting are made on an ad hoc basis in consultation with The Graduate School.

It is inappropriate to use thesis research (599) or dissertation research (699) credit hours for double accounting purposes.

An MAT candidate who wishes to pursue, concurrently or subsequently, an MA degree in the same discipline may request double accounting for up to a total of five courses that the department regularly lists as common to both its MA and MAT programs.

It is normally considered inappropriate to use MST course work for double accounting purposes.

Normally courses paid for by a tuition scholarship at Binghamton cannot be used for a second master's degree, a second doctoral degree, or master's degree after a doctoral degree. See Terms & Conditions of Tuition Scholarship.

Award of a Second Degree in the Same Field

The State University of New York policy states that a second degree at the same level (e.g., master's or doctorate) can be awarded only when a significant amount of additional course work in a very different field is completed. Normally when a student has already earned a master's or doctorate in a given discipline (e.g., economics or history) at another foreign or U.S. institution, a second degree at the same level in that discipline cannot be earned at Binghamton University.

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Last Updated: 7/9/15