Requirements for Graduate Degrees

The general requirements for the Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees conferred upon the recommendation of the Graduate College are discussed on the pages immediately following. Students must also become familiar with any additional requirements established for their specific program. Such requirements are set forth under the Programs and Courses section of the PDF version of the Graduate Studies Bulletin and in program descriptions that may be provided to students at the time of their admission.

General Requirements for the Master's Degree

Residence and Time Requirements

Fifty-percent or more of the required course work must be completed on the campuses of the University of Nebraska after the student has been formally admitted and registered in the Graduate College. Appropriate courses may be taken in departments located on other campuses of the University of Nebraska.

The work required for a Master’s degree must be completed within five consecutive calendar years.

Advisor and the Advisory Committee

Each new Master’s student should consult the chair of his/her program’s Graduate Committee for assignment of an Advisor, who must be a member of the Graduate Faculty. The Advisor chairs the student’s Advisory Committee, which consists of three or more members selected by the program’s Graduate Committee and formally approved by the Dean for Graduate Studies. The Advisory Committee supervises the work of candidates for the Master’s degree. They may give such tests as are necessary to determine whether the applicants are adequately prepared for graduate study. These Advisory Committees will act on behalf of, and report to, their respective Graduate Committees.

Options for the Master’s Degree

The Graduate College, except in programs where such a choice is not given, offers the degree of Master of Science under two options: Thesis or Non-Thesis. In choosing an option, the student should be guided by the type of training that is appropriate for the student’s academic, professional and career goals.

Course requirements for the Master’s degree under either option may be met (1) with approved courses selected from those offered in any department that has been approved to offer a program leading to the Master’s degree, or (2) by approved courses selected from those offered in some field of study within a specific department or group of departments that has been approved by the Graduate Council. If a graduate program has an established core curriculum, students admitted to that program must meet only the course requirements for that program. Graduate students admitted to a program that does not have an established core curriculum must meet the minimum course requirements outlined in the following paragraphs.

Thesis Option
The Thesis Option should be chosen by those who are preparing for careers in research and scholarly work. Under this option, a candidate must complete at least six graduate courses, three of which may be "introductory" courses (800-level with 600-level or lower counterparts). A Master’s thesis must be completed in the candidate’s research area. Candidates are encouraged to submit data contained in the thesis for publication before completion of the degree requirements.

Regular participation in the seminar program of the major area of study is required. The program’s Graduate Committee or the student’s Advisory Committee may also require the student to complete various techniques courses, language courses, research courses, special topics, etc., as necessary, but none of these courses may be used to meet the requirements for the six graduate courses.

The subject of the thesis must be approved by the Graduate Committee. The thesis work should reveal a capacity to carry on independent study or research and should demonstrate the student’s ability to use the techniques employed in the field of investigation. The thesis must conform to the style accepted at UNMC. Examples can be found in the McGoogan Library of Medicine.

The thesis must be presented in final form to the Graduate Committee or the student’s Advisory Committee at least two weeks before the date of the student’s final oral examination (defense of thesis). A student shall not be eligible for the defense until the thesis is completed and approved by the student’s Advisor. Final oral examination must take place at least two weeks prior to graduation.

When the thesis defense has been completed successfully, one copy of the thesis must be supplied to the major department and two copies must be deposited in the McGoogan Library of Medicine. To meet requirements for completion of the degree in a given semester, the approved thesis and evidence of the successful defense must be in the Graduate Studies Office one week before the end of the semester.

Non-Thesis Option
The Non-Thesis Option is offered in certain departments upon the advice and with the approval of the student’s Advisor and the program Graduate Committee. This option permits more intensive work in formal courses and does not require a thesis. Under this option, a student must complete eleven graduate courses, four of which may be "introductory" courses (800-level with 600-level or lower counterparts). Since the Non-Thesis Option is not a research degree, no more than two of the 11 courses may be Research Other Than Thesis. Regular participation in the seminar program of the major area of study is required.

Students who have earned the Master’s degree under the Non-Thesis Option and later elect to continue in graduate work for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy must give evidence of ability to conduct independent research, which may require them to spend more than the minimum time in completing the requirements for the doctoral degree.

Examinations

A written and/or oral comprehensive examination is required to cover the student’s approved Program of Study, as specified by the student’s Graduate Committee. The comprehensive examination must be taken no sooner than ten months prior to the completion of degree requirements. The Graduate Studies Office must be notified of the date of the comprehensive examination and the names of the Examining Committee members no later than two weeks prior to the examination. The Exam Report Form must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office within seven days following the examination. The comprehensive examination must be passed at least one week prior to the time of the defense of the thesis or the final oral examination is scheduled.

For students pursuing the Thesis Option, the examining committee for the final oral examination (defense of thesis) is appointed by the Dean for Graduate Studies upon recommendation of the Graduate Committee, shall consist of at least three members and may be the student's Advisory Committee. One member of the Examining Committee must be Graduate Faculty. The Application for Final Oral Exam form must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office two weeks prior to the exam. A report of the outcome of the final oral examination must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office within seven days following the final oral examination.

If more than one member of the Examining Committee recommends failure in a comprehensive examination or defense of thesis (final oral examination), the student shall be considered to have failed the examination. In the event of failure, the Examining Committee shall within seven days recommend to the Dean for Graduate Studies whether the student should be given the option of retaking the examination and, if so, the committee shall identify general areas of weakness that require special attention and any specific remedial actions that the student should complete prior to re-examination. This information should also be transmitted in writing to the student.

No student shall be permitted to take either the comprehensive examination or defense of thesis (final oral examination) more than twice, and the student must wait a minimum of three months before retaking the examination. The same committee shall give the re-examination unless the Graduate Committee responsible for the student’s program recommends and the Dean for Graduate Studies approves a substitution.

Summary of Procedures for the Master's Degree

This Summary of Procedures should be studied carefully in connection with the Graduate Studies calendar.

  1. Admission to the Graduate College.
  2. Registration by consultation with the chair of the program’s Graduate Committee and/or the student’s Advisor and with the approval of the Dean for Graduate Studies.
  3. With the assistance of your Advisor prepare and submit a draft Program of Studies form to the Graduate Studies Office within 4 months after matriculation.
  4. Select Advisor/Advisory Committee. Complete and submit the Appointment of Advisory Committee form to the Graduate Studies Office within 6 months after matriculation. Meet routinely with the Advisory Committee.
  5. Complete and submit the Program of Studies form to the Graduate Studies Office within 7 months after matriculation.
  6. Prepare an Individual Development Plan by the end of the 1st year of graduate study.
  7. Submit the Request for Scheduling Comprehensive Examination form to the Graduate Studies Office two weeks prior to exam date. The comprehensive exam must be completed within 10 months of completing degree requirements, and at least one week prior to the final oral exam.
  8. Upon passing the comprehensive exam, an Examination Report Form must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office within 7 days following the exam date.
  9. Thesis Option: The thesis in final form must be presented to the Graduate Committee or the student’s Advisory Committee no later than two weeks before the final oral examination.
  10. Filing of an application for the diploma at the Office of Academic Records and payment of the $25 graduation fee by the appropriate deadline. This application is effective during the current term only. It must be renewed at the appropriate time if requirements for graduation are not completed until a later term.
  11. Thesis Option: Application for Final Oral Examination form must be submitted to Graduate Studies Office two weeks prior to graduation. A Master’s student must pass the final oral examination, as scheduled, before the Examining Committee. An Examination Report Form must be filed in the Graduate Studies office within 7 days following the final oral exam.
  12. Thesis Option: Present two copies of the thesis to the Graduate Studies Office before submitting the copies in proper form to the Director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine. In addition, one bound copy of the thesis is to be deposited with the student’s major department.
  13. Provide a Completion of Requirements for Master’s Degree form – signed by the Examining Committee (Thesis Option), the Advisor, the program Graduate Committee Chair, and the Director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine – to the Graduate Studies Office at least one week before the end of the term..

General Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Residence and Time Requirements

The Graduate College has established a residence requirement for the purpose of ensuring that the doctoral program should be reasonably compact, continuous, coherent, and that a substantial portion be done at the University of Nebraska or under supervision of the faculty of the University of Nebraska. For any student beginning a doctoral program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the residency requirement for the Ph.D. is that at least one-half of the course requirements (other than dissertation) be completed within a consecutive eighteen-month period, with the further provision that the courses be taken after receipt of the Master’s degree or its equivalent. Attendance at seminars also is required.

In exceptional circumstances, when it is clear that the purpose of residence will be fulfilled although the above formal conditions are not met, the student's Supervisory Committee may, with the approval of the Dean for Graduate Studies, recommend alternative procedures for satisfying the residence requirements. The plan for satisfying residence requirements shall be a part of the student's approved program of study.

A minimum of four full years of graduate study is normally required to complete a program for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for a student who enters the program with the Bachelor’s Degree. Neither the courses completed nor the time spent in study determines completion of requirements for the Ph.D. degree. It is earned primarily through the pursuit of excellence in some special field of scholarship that involves the demonstrated ability to conduct independent research.

The Ph.D. degree must be completed within seven years from the date of initial registration as a Ph.D.-objective student.

Course Requirements

To complete the Ph.D. degree, certain minimal course requirements must be met. For most programs this is accomplished by taking a core of courses defined by each of the programs. Students admitted to a graduate program that does not offer a core curriculum must meet the following minimum course requirements:

All students are required to participate in the seminar program within their major area. A dissertation of publishable quality must be completed and successfully defended (see below). In addition, evidence must be presented that the dissertation material has been submitted for publication in a peer review journal.

Qualifying Procedure

Certain programs may require specific qualifying procedures and/or examinations that must be completed during the early phases of study. Departmental or program qualifying requirements are designated in the Programs and Courses section of the PDF version of the Bulletin, as appropriate for individual programs. If a qualifying examination is required, the majority vote of the examining committee is required to pass the examination.

The Request for Scheduling the Qualifying Examination must be received by the Graduate Studies Office at least two weeks prior to the examination and the Examination Report Form must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office within seven days following the examination.

Supervisor, Supervisory Committee and Program of Studies

Upon recommendation of the program Graduate Committee, the Dean for Graduate Studies shall appoint for each student a Supervisory Committee composed of at least four members of the Graduate Faculty. The student’s Supervisor (mentor) serves as chair of the Supervisory Committee. It is urged that one or more members of the Supervisory Committee be from a field or fields of study different from the major area of interest, whenever such representation will contribute to the student's program and/or the overall effectiveness of the graduate program. Faculty from outside the University of Nebraska may serve as members of the Supervisory Committee. As with other members of the Committee, these individuals are appointed by the Dean for Graduate Studies upon recommendation of the program Graduate Committee.

Within four weeks of its appointment, the Supervisory Committee shall meet to establish and subsequently to file in the Graduate Studies Office a proposed Program of Studies, including designation of all required courses and the general area of research for the dissertation. Any subsequent change in the program or in the dissertation topic shall be approved by the Supervisory Committee and the action reported to the Graduate Studies Office. 

Comprehensive Examination and Admission to Candidacy

When a student has substantially completed his/her didactic studies, he/she must pass a comprehensive examination that may consist of several parts. At the discretion of the Supervisory Committee or as a program requirement, the comprehensive examination format may be oral, written, or both. The comprehensive examination is not a repetition of course examinations but is an investigation of the student’s breadth of understanding of the field of knowledge of which his/her special subject is a part.

The Supervisory Committee or program Graduate Committee arranges for the written and/or oral comprehensive examination. The Request for Scheduling the Comprehensive Examination form must be received by the Graduate Studies Office not later than two weeks prior to the examination. The report of the outcome of the examination must be filed on the appropriate form in the Graduate Studies Office within seven days following the examination. If more than one member of the Supervisory Committee recommends failure, the student shall be considered to have failed the examination.

In the event of failure the Supervisory Committee shall recommend to the Dean for Graduate Studies whether the student should be given the option of retaking the examination and, if so, the Committee shall identify general areas of weakness which require special attention and any remedial actions which the student should complete prior to re-examination. This information should also be transmitted in written form to the student. No student shall be permitted to take either the written or oral portion of the comprehensive examination more than twice, and the student must wait a minimum of three months before retaking the examination.

When the student has passed the comprehensive examination and satisfied the requirements of his/her approved program, as well as other requirements of the Supervisory Committee, the committee will recommend to the Graduate Studies Office the student’s admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Such a report must be filed at least seven months prior to the final oral examination (defense of dissertation).

A student is formally recognized as a candidate as of the date of completing the comprehensive examination. If the term of candidacy is extended beyond three years, the candidate must pass another comprehensive examination. Following admission to candidacy the student must be continuously registered in the Graduate College until receipt of the Ph.D. degree. Students not in residence may register for a minimum of one semester hour credit in DOCTORAL DISSERTATION. Failure to maintain continuous registration will result in the termination of candidacy.

Dissertation

The dissertation is not of fixed length. It should treat a subject from the candidate’s field as approved by the Supervisory Committee. It should show the student’s technical mastery of the field and should advance or modify former knowledge; i.e., it should treat new material, or find new results, or draw new conclusions, or it should interpret old material with new insights. Each candidate for the degree shall submit with the dissertation an abstract, not exceeding 350 words in length including the title. Before completion of the degree there must be evidence that the dissertation material has been submitted for publication in a peer review journal.

The dissertation and abstract are to be presented to the members of the Supervisory Committee at least four weeks before the final oral examination (defense of dissertation). It is the student's responsibility to ensure that, at that time, the dissertation has been properly formatted and has been thoroughly checked for errors in terminology, grammar and spelling. During the ensuing period of at least two weeks, the members of the Supervisory Committee will have the opportunity to review the dissertation to determine whether it is in a fit condition, based on formatting, writing quality and preliminary scientific criteria, for the defense. Upon receiving such approval (or if no serious objections are raised), the Application for the Final Oral Examination (signed by the student, his/her Supervisor, and the program Graduate Committee Chair) should be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office. The defense will then be scheduled no sooner than two weeks after receipt of that form.

Following the successful completion of the defense (see below), two copies of the dissertation (including abstract and title page) and two additional copies of the abstract must be presented to the Graduate Studies Office before being deposited by the student in the McGoogan Library of Medicine. The first page of one copy of the dissertation shall bear the signatures of all members of the Supervisory Committee who approve the dissertation. The first page of the second copy shall indicate the names (typed) of all members of the Supervisory Committee who signed the original title sheet. This typed title sheet will be microfilmed with the dissertation.

The student must also present to the library a signed agreement for the publication of the abstract and microfilming of the dissertation. To meet requirements for completion of the degree in a given semester, the approved dissertation and evidence of the successful defense must be in the Graduate Studies Office one week before the end of the semester.

Before the degree is granted, each candidate will pay a fee to cover the cost of microfilming the entire dissertation and of publication of the abstract by ProQuest/UMI Dissertations.

Defense of Dissertation

This final examination is oral and public. It is administered by the Supervisory Committee after all other requirements have been met. The Supervisory Committee also determines the character and length of the defense, while maintaining compliance with the guidelines and usual practices followed by the major program. The examination may be devoted to the special field of the dissertation or to related matters, or it may be designed to test the candidate’s judgment and critical powers.

The defense of dissertation will not be scheduled unless the Chair of the Supervisory Committee and at least two other members of the committee are available for the examination. Exceptions may be made only by permission of the Dean for Graduate Studies.

A report of the outcome of the defense of dissertation (Examination Report Form) must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office within seven days following the examination. If more than one member of the Supervisory Committee recommends failure, the student shall be considered to have failed the examination. In the event of failure, the Supervisory Committee shall recommend to the Dean for Graduate Studies whether the student should be given the option of retaking the examination and, if so, the Committee shall identify general areas of weakness that require special attention, and any specific remedial actions that the student should complete prior to re-examination. This information should also be transmitted in writing to the student. No student shall be permitted to take the final oral examination more than twice and the student must wait a minimum of three months before retaking the examination.

Summary of Procedure for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

This summary of procedure should be studied carefully in connection with the Graduate Studies calendar.

  1. Admission to the Graduate College.
  2. Registration after consultation with the Supervisor and with the approval of the Dean for Graduate Studies.
  3. Satisfactory completion of any qualifying requirements.
  4. With the assistance of you Supervisor prepare and submit a draft Program of Studies form to the Graduate Studies Office within 9 months after matriculaiton.
  5. Appointment by the Dean for Graduate Studies of a Supervisory Committee on the recommendation of the program Graduate Committee within 12 months after matriculation.
  6. Prepare an Individual Development Plan by the end of the 1st year of graduate study.
  7. Submission to the Graduate Studies Office of a Program of Study, approved by the Supervisory Committee, setting forth the proposed plan of study for the degree. This form must be submitted within 13 months after matriculation.
  8. Satisfactory completion of any foreign language or research tool requirements set forth in the approved program.
  9. Passing of the comprehensive examination when the student's program of courses is substantially completed. The Request for Scheduling Comprehensive Examination form must be received in the Graduate Studies Office two weeks before the proposed date of the examination. The Examination Report Form must be received in the Graduate Studies Office within seven days following the examination.
  10. Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree by filing a report in the Graduate Studies Office of the passing of the Comprehensive Examination (at least seven months before the final oral examination). The term of candidacy is limited to three years.
  11. Filing of an application for the diploma at the Office of Academic Records and payment of the $25.00 graduation fee by the appropriate deadline. This application is effective during one term only. It must be renewed at the appropriate time if requirements for graduation are not completed until a later term.
  12. Presentation to the Graduate Studies Office of evidence of submission of dissertation material to a peer review journal.
  13. Presentation of the dissertation and the abstract to the Supervisory Committee at least four weeks prior to the final oral examination.
  14. Presentation to the Graduate Studies Office of the Application for the Final Oral Examination for the Ph.D. Degree at least two weeks prior to the date of that examination.
  15. Passing of final oral examination and submission of a report of the outcome of the examination (Examination Report Form) to the Graduate Studies Office within seven days following the examination.
  16. Two copies of the dissertation in proper form, and two additional copies of the abstract, presented to the Graduate Studies Office. These same two copies of the dissertation, one copy of the abstract, and the signed agreement for microfilming the dissertation and publication of the abstract must be deposited with the Director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine. Payment of the abstract fee and optional copyright fee. Delivery of the Report on Doctoral Degree (signed by Graduate Committee Chair, members of the Supervisory Committee, the Director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine, and the Cashier) to the Graduate Studies Office. In addition, one bound copy of the dissertation is to be deposited with the student's major department.