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The Graduate School

The Graduate School Manual

Academic Policies: Master's Degree

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, Submission and Binding of the Thesis

See the Guidelines for Preparing or Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation outlined in the Graduate School Manual. 


Graduate Application for 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. 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.



The deadlines for students to submit theses and forms to the Graduate School are posted on the Graduation website each semester. 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 degrees awarded in all semesters will occur at the annual spring Commencement. Information regarding Commencement is mailed approximately two months prior to each commencement ceremony to all students who have declared themselves candidates. Commencement details are distributed via Binghamton University e-mail addresses; thus, it is imperative that candidates have access to their Binghamton University e-mail accounts. To participate in any Commencement ceremony, the graduate program must submit the Recommendation for Award of 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 requirements for the degree well in advance of the award of the degree may, upon request to the Degree Completion Secretary, receive a statement from the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records 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 Graduate Application for Degree 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 Master's Degree Form to the Graduate School by the degree completion deadline?

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


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.


Last Updated: 10/9/17