Jun 21, 2024  
2017-2018 Governors State University Academic Catalog 
2017-2018 Governors State University Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Master’s Degree Requirements

Graduate education is the pursuit of knowledge at an advanced level. Graduate education is distinct and different from undergraduate education both in kind and degree. It demands of students’ greater intellectual maturity and autonomy, a sense of deeper responsibility for their own learning, more intense study, and the mastery of different and more complex skills. A graduate degree is a distinction to be earned. Award of the degree symbolizes both the student’s accomplishment and the university’s endorsement. All students receiving a master’s degree [Graduate Degree] must have demonstrated the following outcomes:

  1. an in-depth knowledge of significant theories, issues, and findings, and mastery of appropriate skills within their discipline;
  2. the ability to apply such knowledge and skills;
  3. the ability to read, interpret, and evaluate research literature and to relate results to selected areas of interest;
  4. the ability to analyze problems and to critique attempted solutions, especially within their discipline;
  5. the ability to integrate knowledge from a variety of disciplines;
  6. the ability to design and implement a research, scholarly, or creative project; and
  7. the ability to communicate scholarly thought to professional colleagues through writing and discussion.

Master’s Degree Student Status

Master’s degree-seeking students are those students admitted to a master’s degree program.

Master’s degree candidates are those degree-seeking students who have applied for and been admitted to candidacy.

Student Study Plan

A study plan is an agreement developed in collaboration with an academic advisor for a student’s degree completion at GSU and informs the student of the recommended sequence of required courses. Every degree-seeking student is required to develop a student study plan for the major during the first term of enrollment. Students who do not complete a study plan during the first term of enrollment may be precluded from further registration as degree seeking students, until a study plan is completed.

The student study plan for the degree sought will detail the requirements which are in effect at the time of admission as a degree-seeking student. These requirements will remain unchanged as long as a student’s enrollment in the program has not been interrupted by more than three (3) terms, unless substitutions need to be made due to curriculum change. The study plan will specify the amount of transfer credit, proficiency credit, and credit for experiential learning applied toward the degree requirements; the total credit-hour requirements for the degree; and required and elective courses.

After admission into a degree program, a new study plan must be developed and approved with the academic advisor when a student applies for acceptance of additional transfer credit from another regionally accredited institution, or seeks modification to the study plan. When a student changes majors or is readmitted, a new study plan must be developed and approved with the new academic advisor.

Study plans are required for minors and certificates.

Students are encouraged to contact faculty members in specific discipline areas in which they have interests for additional academic advisement.

Students choosing to take courses not specified in their study plan may find that such credit may not apply toward the degree requirements.

Student Responsibility

Students are responsible for knowledge of, and adherence to, all university requirements and regulations.

Students are responsible for knowing the degree requirements for their major and enrolling in courses that meet those degree requirements and regulations.

Students are responsible for seeking information and assistance from appropriate staff should they have any questions regarding requirements or regulations.

Master’s Degree Candidacy

All programs must establish written requirements for degree candidacy. Minimum program degree candidacy requirements must include: admission to the program through which the student intends to earn a degree; a completed and approved Graduate Study Plan; successful completion of designated pre-candidacy coursework, and an application and admission to candidacy process.

Admission to candidacy is a pre-requisite to enrollment in the capstone experience designated for the program. Candidacy must be attained at least one term prior to the term during which the degree is to be awarded.

An oral, written, or combination examination meant to test a student’s proficiency in some special field of knowledge may be used to determine a student’s eligibility to enter a program, continue in the program, become a degree candidate, and/or graduate.

General Requirements

The following general requirements for the master’s degree are minimum standards established by the university. Colleges and individual majors may determine additional, more specific requirements that will be incorporated into an approved student study plan.

  1. Students seeking the Master’s Degree shall complete at least thirty-two (32) credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree. Those seeking the Specialist Degree shall complete at least sixty (60) post-baccalaureate hours. Those seeking the Doctoral Degree shall complete at least seventy-five (75) post-baccalaureate hours. Any graduate program must include a Graduate Capstone Experience of at least three (3) credit hours.
  2. A minimum of sixty-seven (67) percent of the graduate program coursework must be in graduate-only courses, numbered 6000 - 9999.
  3. A maximum of fifty (50) percent of the credit hours, counted toward graduate degree requirements, may be earned from the same faculty member, unless there is an approved exception by the dean for a degree program.
  4. A maximum of twenty-five (25) percent of credit hours may be earned in elective independent study or elective internship, unless there is an approved exception by the dean.
  5. All graduate students shall maintain grades in accordance with the established University grading policy (Policy 26); however, in no case shall a grade of “D” or “F” be acceptable toward meeting degree requirements.
  6. All graduate students must be in Academic Good Standing in accordance with University’s academic standing policy (Policy 14G) to be admitted to or to remain in the Graduate Degree Candidate status.
  7. To graduate, all grades of incomplete (“I” or “E”) or continuing registration (“CO”) must be removed by the graduation processing date.
  8. All requirements for the degree must be completed in a maximum of eight (8) academic calendar years, the equivalent to sixteen (16) consecutive semesters (excluding summer terms) of a student’s acceptance into the program
  9. Graduate degree programs may allow students to use the “CO” (Continued Registration) status to extend the time to complete their Capstone experience.
  10. If there are extenuating circumstances, the student may petition the dean of the College to request an exception to these time limits. The dean of the college will consult with program faculty and chair prior to decision.

In addition to the requirements stated above, a master’s degree student must:

  1. Apply to degree requirements no more than six credit-hours earned in independent studies.
  2. Demonstrate that all degree requirements have been met as stipulated in the approved study plan.
  3. Meet all financial obligations to the university.

Graduate Capstone Experience

A master’s degree candidate participates in a capstone experience. Capstones provide intensive experiences in critical analysis, research, and/or evaluation and provide an opportunity for integration of previous courses in the major. Graduate capstone experiences require graduate degree candidates to examine complex issues in substantial pieces of writing or other products as well as demonstrate synthesis of program content and mastery of program learning outcomes. Program faculty must designate at least one course in the program as a capstone course. Successful completion of this course is required for graduation.

Capstone experiences follow completion of other parts of the core curriculum and are, therefore, restricted to degree candidates. Registration for any graduate capstone experience requires degree candidacy as a prerequisite.

Student work in a capstone must be evaluated and accepted by a committee of at least three qualified members and chaired by a Governors State University tenured or tenure-track graduate faculty member. No faculty member may serve as a member or advisor for a Master’s, Specialist, or Professional Doctorate capstone if there is a potential or perceived conflict of interest, such as being former classmates.

Capstone alternatives are described below. Each program shall provide students a copy of detailed procedures and specify appropriate manuals of style for the capstone alternatives required in the program. Regardless of the alternative chosen, the evaluating committee must always be chaired by a tenured or tenure-track graduate faculty member.

These alternatives may vary from one program to another; however, each program shall determine and require one or more of the following:

  1. Major Research Course: A major research/project course is an individually registered course in which the candidate must present evidence of (a) a thorough review and understanding of the literature germane to the subject, (b) the ability to do independent research, and (c) the preparation of a manuscript which conforms to generally recognized standards of scientific and scholarly writing in the discipline. Common examples are a thesis or a dissertation.
  2. Portfolio Course: As a discipline standard for evaluating student mastery of graduate work in the creative arts, students in this kind of capstone develop a large portfolio of projects or pieces. For the degree, either a single piece is selected for evaluation or the entire portfolio of work is reviewed.
  3. Project Course: This type of capstone may feature individual or small-group projects developed to demonstrate the student’s mastery of given domain. Examples of this alternative include but are not limited to directed readings, master’s projects, graduate culminating seminars, software or educational program design and evaluation, case studies, simulations, or action research projects.
  4. Fieldwork or Internship Course: In an internship-style capstone course, the student participates in an internship, or works in the field, supervised by a Governors State University tenured or tenure-track graduate faculty member or appropriately credentialed member, as well as field supervisor.
  5. Comprehensive Examination: A comprehensive examination may be used in combination with one or more of the above alternatives. However, examinations alone may not be used as the total graduate (capstone) requirement.

Transfer Credit for Master’s Degree Students

The following requirements apply to courses being transferred from colleges and universities accredited by regional accrediting agencies. Some degree programs have more restrictive limits on the amount of transfer credit accepted and the time period within which transfer credit must have been earned to be applied toward degree requirements

Transfer of Prior Credits. This applies only to credits being transferred from regionally accredited institutions to any Governors State University graduate major.

The decision to accept transfer credits toward degree requirements is made by the academic advisor during the first term of enrollment when the student study plan is developed. The student study plan will detail the requirements for the degree including the number of transfer credits accepted toward the requirements.

Transfer of graduate credit hours shall not exceed twenty-five (25) percent of the total number of credit hours required in any major. Only work from regionally accredited institutions completed with a grade of “B” or better or “P” or equivalent will be considered for transfer credit.

Transfer credits earned ten (10) or more years prior to the student’s acceptance into a degree program will not be accepted toward the degree requirements unless approved by the respective academic dean.

Undergraduate students in the last term of their studies may elect to enroll for graduate credit but are limited to a maximum of nine (9) credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree requirements which may be applied toward graduate degree requirements.

Undergraduate students may enroll in graduate only courses only with written permission of the course instructor and the dean of the college in which the course is offered.

Credits earned and applied toward any degree previously earned may not be applied toward a second or additional degree. Students pursuing two or more degrees simultaneously may not apply the same credit to more than one degree.

NOTE: No more than six credit hours earned as a master’s level non-degree seeking student may be applied toward degree requirements.

Transfer Credits Earned After Admission. After admission to a degree program, additional credit will not be accepted from another institution unless permission to apply such credits toward degree requirements was obtained from the Dean prior to taking courses at another institution. Only courses with grades of “B” or better will be accepted in transfer after matriculation to a graduate degree program.

Academic Standing

Graduate students who maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 are in good standing.

Residency Requirements

All master’s degree-seeking students are required to earn a minimum of 24 credit-hours of course work from Governors State University before the award of the master’s degree.

Application for Graduation

Students should arrange to meet with their assigned academic advisors to review the student study plan and verify expected completion of degree requirements. Students must apply for graduation by the published deadline. Students should complete both an Application for Graduation form and a Student Progress Report form, available on the web or in the Registrar’s Office. The application is approved by the advisor, division/department chair, and dean. Approval by the Registrar’s Office results in degree certification and awarding of the diploma. A $125 graduation application fee covers costs of diplomas and commencement.


Commencement is held once a year. Participation is optional. Participation is available for students who have completed their degree requirements during December of the previous year, as certified by the Registrar. Students on track to complete their requirements in May or August of the current year may apply to participate. Students with any unpaid financial obligation to the university are not eligible to participate. Participation in a commencement ceremony does not constitute certification of degree completion. All participants must be certified by the Registrar before receiving a degree.


Diplomas are awarded only upon verification of completion of all degree requirements and satisfaction of all financial obligations to the university. Diplomas are inscribed with the type of degree, major, date, and the student name on record at the time the degree was confirmed.

Audit Registration

A student who is interested in a particular course(s) but does not wish to take it for credit may audit the course(s). All attendance and work is voluntary. A student may register to audit a course during the registration period upon paying the required fee and obtaining the instructor’s approval. Audit registrations do not appear on the academic transcript. A change from audit to credit registration or from credit to audit registration must be made during the registration period.

Veterans and other eligible persons cannot be certified for audited courses per 38 CFR 21.4252(i) of the code of federal regulations.

Change in Major/Change of Status

Degree-seeking students who wish to change their major and/or sequence must complete the appropriate forms available on the web or in the Registrar’s Office. Students who change their course of study are subject to any special admission and degree requirements in effect for the new major and/or sequence at the time of the change.