University General Course Catalog 2021-2022 
    Sep 26, 2022  

Master’s Degree

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Advisory and Examining Committee

Upon admission to graduate standing, students are assigned a temporary Advisor by the graduate program. By the end of the second semester, the student must select a permanent advisor and submit a Declaration of Advisor form to the Graduate School. For students pursuing an MFA, the Declaration of Advisor form must be submitted to the Graduate School by the end of the third semester. In some programs, students must designate an Advisor and Co-Advisor (see your program’s Director of Graduate Studies for more information). The permanent advisor chairs the student’s advisory/examining committee and works with the student to appoint the remaining members of the student’s advisory/examining committee, which along with the graduate director of the program, supervises the student’s course of study and examinations.

Committee Composition

Thesis advisory/examining committees consist of at least three (3) members of the Graduate Faculty. Two (2) faculty members, not necessarily from the student’s department, represent the student’s area of specialization and one (1) faculty member is selected to serve as the Graduate School Representative. Students may request the appointment of a committee member from the faculty of another university or from a relevant discipline or profession, provided the prospective member has achieved a record of distinction. Any member outside of UNR may not serve as the Graduate School Representative. They are approved as an “additional inside member”. Formal approval of the student’s advisory/examining committee is made by the Graduate Dean. In case of interdisciplinary graduate programs, the Graduate School Representative cannot have a primary appointment in the same department (or other appropriate major unit) as the student’s committee chair.

Non-thesis/project based committees consist of at least two (2) faculty members, the major advisor and the graduate program director.

Course based only committees consist of one (1) faculty member, the graduate program director.

The Role of the Advisory/Examining Committee Members

The role of the graduate committee is to provide guidance and mentoring to the graduate student with respect to their graduate education. This includes guidance on the selection of courses, i.e. the program of study, guidance on the knowledge requirements for their discipline, i.e. the comprehensive examination, and guidance with respect to the development of their research expertise, i.e. the dissertation. By providing guidance and mentoring, the graduate committee sets forth appropriate academic standards and rigor.

All committee members should be afforded the opportunity to provide guidance as defined above under the role of the graduate committee (program of study, comprehensive examinations, professional paper, thesis/dissertation). The degree of guidance on these matters from the graduate school representative may vary depending on how closely the graduate school representative is allied to the student’s area of specialization.

However, the graduate school representative is always charged to represent the Graduate School as a participant in the student’s academic endeavors.

The Role of Graduate School Representative Committee Members

The Graduate School Representative protects the interests of the student, the advisory committee, and the Graduate School. The Graduate School Representative should also act as an “unbiased person” to whom the Dean may turn for judgment and counsel. The primary responsibility of the Graduate School Representative is that of an observer. Consequently, the Representative should be invited to participate in both the preliminary and final oral examinations, but should never take a dominant role in the exams. The Graduate School representative must be on the list of UNR’s graduate faculty.

NOTE: Some programs have been granted an exemption from the usual committee structure. For details, refer to your graduate program director.

Program of Study

Advanced degrees are conferred by the University upon the recommendation of the graduate faculty and the Graduate Dean, following the completion of an approved Program of Study Form. The approved program of study describes the student’s specific plan of courses, research, and related activities. The graduate student’s advisor, the graduate director of the program, and the advisory/examining committee determine the program of study for each degree candidate. This includes the thesis/professional paper and the acceptable courses for completion of the degree. The Graduate Dean has final approval of the program of study. Only graduate courses are applicable toward the graduate degree. Graduate courses are those numbered 600-799. The Program of Study form must be submitted to the Graduate School by the end of the student’s third semester.


Subsequent changes may be made at any time via the online Change in Program of Study Form or Change of Advisory Committee Form, but only with the approval of the major advisor, graduate director of the program, and the Graduate Dean.

It is the responsibility of the student and the advisory/examining committee to ensure that the graduate courses in the proposed program of study are consistent with the requirements of the Graduate School and the program.

Additional Courses

The student’s advisory/examining committee may require the student to take additional courses if, in its opinion, additional training is needed to achieve the expected level of proficiency. Students should consult individual programs to determine the specific requirements for completing the master’s degree through either a thesis or non-thesis program.

Program of Study Course Limitations

A maximum of twelve (12) graduate semester units completed prior to admission to graduate standing may be applied to a master’s degree program of study. These units are subject to the approval of the advisory committee and the Graduate Dean. Units completed during the semester in which the student is approved for admission are exempt from the twelve (12) unit graduate special limitations. A maximum of 18 (eighteen) graduate units completed from a relevant University of Nevada, Reno graduate certificate may be applied to a master’s degree program of study.

S/U Grades: A maximum of six (6) graduate course work satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) units may apply towards a master’s degree, excluding the S/U units allowed for the comprehensive examination, professional paper and thesis units, but including transfer units. For graduate courses, a grade of “S” indicates achievement equivalent to a “B” or above. The grade of “U” represents performance equivalent to a “B-” or below.

Thesis units: A maximum of six to ten (6-10) thesis units may be applied to a master’s degree. A student may re-enroll in thesis units to satisfy the minimum enrollment policy. A grade of S/U will be assigned for each thesis enrollment indicating satisfactory academic progress.

Extension Courses: Graduate units earned through extension courses are not accepted for transfer unit.

Professional Courses: Generally, course work from a professional degree (i.e. Medicine, Law) is not considered graduate level and is not accepted for graduate units.

Degree Description and Requirements

Thesis Programs

In a thesis program, a minimum of twenty (20) units of acceptable graduate courses in addition to six to ten (6-10) thesis units are required for a total of approximately thirty (30) units. Minor exceptions to the thirty (30) unit requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require justification based on best practices. At least eighteen (18) of those units must be earned in on-campus courses at the university. Any transfer units from another institution must be requested via the online Credit Transfer Evaluation Form and approved by the student’s advisory committee, the Graduate Program Director, and the Dean of the Graduate School. At least nine (9) units (excluding six (6) thesis units) in the program must be at the 700-level.

Non-Thesis Programs

The program of study requires the satisfactory completion of at least thirty (30) units of acceptable graduate courses which include a culminating experience such as a professional paper, professional project or equivalent which could include, when required by the program, a comprehensive examination. Minor exceptions to the thirty (30) unit requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require justification based on best practices. At least eighteen (18) units must be earned in courses offered by the University of Nevada, Reno. At least twelve (12) of the thirty (30) units earned must be at the 700-level.

Professional Paper Grading

Professional papers (XXX-796), as a culminating event of a graduate program akin to a thesis or dissertation, is not graded until the student completes the graduate program and a satisfactory grade is recorded on the Notice of Completion Form. If a student registers for professional paper units and does not complete the paper by the end of that semester, an “I” is recorded on the transcript. The student is not required to enroll in additional professional paper units once he/she has enrolled in the requisite number of units for the degree. When the student completes the paper and a notice of completion is filed, Admissions and Records will replace the “I” with an “S” grade. Students may not receive more units of XXX-796 than are required for the degree.

Time Limitation

Master’s Degree: All work toward a master’s degree (transfer units, units completed at UNR prior to admission (i.e. grad special units), course work units, thesis units, if applicable, and all examinations) must be completed within six (6) calendar years immediately preceding the granting of the degree. The Graduate School will entertain an extension, normally not to exceed one (1) year or one-third of the course units required for the degree. Requests for extensions must come from the major advisor with the concurrence of the Director of Graduate Studies for the program, and be based on an academic or humanitarian rationale for the delay in degree completion.

Program Options for Master’s Degrees

Major Programs: A minor is not required. In a thesis program, at least 18 of the 24 units must be in the major field of study. Units may be selected in any department with the approval of the advisory committee.

Major-Minor Programs: In a thesis program, at least 12 of the 24 graduate units must be in a major field of study, with at least six (6) units in a minor field. The minor may be in a different program, or it may be in a second division of the major program. The major program has the responsibility of approving the candidate’s minor program. Any units not required for the major or minor may be selected in any department with the approval of the advisory committee. Generally, such units are chosen to support the candidate’s thesis. In a non-thesis program, at least 15 of the 30 graduate units must be in a major field of study, with at least eight (8) units in a minor field.

Area Programs: The advisory committee, with the approval of the Graduate Dean, may designate an area program that includes the subject matter of several departments. The student must, however, be admitted to an existing degree-granting program.

Foreign Language Requirement: The Graduate School does not have a foreign language requirement for master’s degrees, but various programs may require demonstrated foreign language competency.

Second Master’s Degree: Students may pursue up to two master’s degree programs simultaneously. To simultaneously pursue two master’s degrees, the student must be formally admitted to graduate standing in both programs. Two (2) separate advisory committees with different chairs are required with no more than one (1) graduate faculty member belonging to both committees. A maximum of twelve (12) graduate units earned in one master’s program may be applied toward a second master’s degree.

Thesis Regulations

Each student must have an outline of the thesis approved by the advisory/examining committee. Following this approval, the student is expected to complete the thesis in a manner satisfactory to the committee. The curriculum requires that upon completion, all theses will be made publicly available through the university library to further the university’s mission of research and scholarship.

Registration for Thesis

A master’s degree candidate who is on a thesis program must complete a minimum of six (6) units of thesis. Students should plan to take the required thesis units during the entire academic year, as many benefits (e.g., GI Bill®, student loans, housing and visas) require a student to be registered for a specific number of units. Departments may require that a student conducting resident research must register for a minimum of three (3) thesis units each semester.

All thesis enrollments will be graded on an S/U basis. Satisfactory or unsatisfactory progress will be recorded on the transcripts for each thesis enrollment. Enrollments in thesis units are not counted in grade-point average computations. A maximum of six (6) thesis units can be applied toward degree completion. Students may exceed six (6) units of thesis enrollment to satisfy minimum enrollment requirements. Any thesis enrollments prior to fall 2013 will show a grade of “X” indicating in progress. Additionally, any units in excess of the maximum six (6) thesis units will show a grade of ‘X.” Upon graduation, the transcripts will be validated for the requisite number of thesis units required to show a minimum of six (6) earned units of thesis enrollment.

Dates for Submission of Thesis

The final date for submission of the thesis is available on the Graduate School website. Department approval is required for all extensions and must be submitted to the Graduate School by the established deadlines. Contact the Graduate School for details.

Format and Copies for Archival

Electronic and Paper Thesis/Dissertation formatting and submission Guidelines are available online.

Publication and Abstract

Masters students are required to publish the abstracts of their theses through Google Scholar and ProQuest. The abstract as submitted will NOT be altered in your published manuscript. Please also refer to the Graduate School website for important information about filing your thesis.

Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive examinations are designed to ensure that the student has attained a reasonable proficiency level in the chosen field of study. At the master’s degree level, examinations, when required by the program, are administered by the program after most of the course work is completed. In consultation with the major advisor, the student registers for a comprehensive examination course on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. All committee members of the advisory/examining committee may review the examination, which must be completed satisfactorily before the student files for degree candidacy. If a student receives a “U”, in order to receive units for the comprehensive exam, at the discretion of their advisory committee, the student must re-enroll for the comprehensive exam in a subsequent semester. If no grade is submitted for the student, the student has the subsequent semester (excluding summer) to complete the requirement. Receiving a “U” after the second semester (excluding summer) is grounds for dismissal.

Final Oral Examination

Many programs require master’s degree candidates to pass an oral examination. Students should consult with their individual programs for details. Programs have specific regulations that apply when a student’s performance is not satisfactory on the final oral examination. An advisory/examining committee may allow the student to retake the examination, it may recommend that the student be placed on probation, or it may recommend that the student be dismissed from the program. These recommendations are made to the Graduate Dean.

NOTE: For additional information on specialized master’s degree programs, refer to the college and school sections of this catalog.


The Application for Graduation must be purchased and completed through MyNEVADA. This application is non-refundable and non-transferrable. Students should review all contact and personal information at this time. The program of study form should be on file with the Graduate School prior to applying for graduation. Graduation application deadlines are:

  • March 1 for May Graduation,
  • June 1 for August Graduation,
  • October 1 for December Graduation

Consult the Graduate School website for Important Dates to submit additional required graduation materials to the Graduate School, including the Notice of Completion. Failure to submit degree completion materials by the deadline will result in removal from graduation processing. If removed from December graduation processing or if an applicant does not complete all degree requirements by the specified deadline for the semester for which they applied, a new graduation application must be purchased according to the established deadlines. The graduation applications are non-refundable and non-transferrable. 

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