Master’s degrees are offered for the Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.), and several professional master’s degrees. The M.A. and M.S. degrees focus on methodology and practice of research and scholarship in the discipline. The M.A. and M.S. degrees require a minimum of 30 semester hours, a final examination or culminating experience, and, in some fields, a thesis reflecting original scholarship or research.
- Master of Business Administration: Requirements for this degree are listed in the section devoted to the College of Business.
- Master of Science: Refer to departments and schools for specific requirements.
- Master of Science in Education: The Master of Science in Education degree may be awarded to students who have met the requirements as designated in the individual departments or school in the College of Education. Refer to departments for specific requirements.
- Master of Music and Master of Music Education: Requirements for these degrees are listed in the School of Music section.
- Master of Fine Arts (Art and Theatre): Requirements for these degrees are listed in the school sections of this catalog and also under the heading of Master of Fine Arts.
- Master of Social Work: See school section for information.
- Master of Science in Nursing: See Mennonite College of Nursing section for information.
- Integrated Bachelor of Science/Master of Professional Accountancy: See department section for information.
Master of Arts Degree Requirements
Approved 12/3/98, edited 3/29/05, 3/22/16
The Master of Arts degree is awarded to a student who has completed an appropriate degree program and met the foreign language requirement for this degree at the college level. This requirement may be met by:
- Completing a minimum of four semesters (or its equivalent, ISU's LAN 116) in one foreign language. The requirement may be met by earning a grade of C or better (or Credit or Pass) in the courses at either the graduate or undergraduate level.
- Obtaining a satisfactory score on a university administered language examination approved by the Graduate School available in French, German, or Spanish at the University College Office. View additional MAPE information.
- Students whose native language is not English may, with departmental or school approval, petition the Graduate School to substitute proficiency in the English language as fulfillment of the language requirement. Proficiency is met by achieving the university minimum total score on TOEFL or IELTS exams.
- Students wishing to use American Sign Language as the language requirement may do so if they have completed 4 semesters of ASL for credit at an accredited college or university (no adult education courses). Proficiency may also be tested but requires the use of an outside consultant. A fee will be assessed if a proficiency test is needed.
- Other methods as determined by the department or school with approval by the Graduate School.
The following are the degree options, however, not all programs offer both options:
- Master’s Degree with Thesis: No more than 6 and no less than 4 semester hours for thesis research and writing may be counted toward satisfying the 30 semester hour minimum of graduate work for a master’s degree with thesis. Fifty percent of all non-thesis hours must be at the 400 level and above.
- Master’s Degree without Thesis: Consists of at least 30 semester hours of graduate work and includes a Comprehensive Examination and/or a culminating requirement demonstrating a mature application of skills and knowledge (e.g., professional practice, project, colloquia, and recital).
- Master's Degree with Courses: Consists of at least 30 hours of graduate work demonstrating skills or knowledge of content competency.
Fifty percent of the courses completed, must be at the 400 level or higher.
Approved 11/6/86, Updated 3/22/01
All requirements for the degree must be completed within six calendar years, beginning with the date the student first registers as a degree student. This time limit applies to enrollment in all graduate course work in the student’s program including work for which transfer credit is allowed, as well as courses taken as a visiting student if the student wants to use the courses toward a degree. A Request to Extend Time to Complete Degree Program must be completed by the student, graduate coordinator, and, if applicable, thesis chair, and submitted to the Graduate School for approval or denial. To access this form visit Grad.IllinoisState.edu/students/forms.
If a course taken to complete the requirements for the degree is not within the six-year period allowed for the degree program, the student’s department or school may require the student to retake the course for credit or allow the student to demonstrate current knowledge and/or proficiency of the subject matter. If the latter is used, currency must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the department or school offering the course through successful completion of an appropriate examination or other assessment if available from the department or school. Otherwise, outdated coursework must be deleted from, and other course work must be substituted in, the degree audit.
Credits more than six years old at the time of first registration into a degree program are not transferable from other institutions. Individual departments and schools may have more stringent timelines. When graduate study is interrupted by military service or other contingencies, the six year limit may be extended with the approval of both the department or school and the Graduate School.
Approved 10/19/95; updated 2/24/00, 3/22/01; edited 6/27/04; updated 4/28/21
Upon recommendation of the department or school where the student is enrolled and with the approval of the Graduate School, a student may present a maximum of twelve semester hours of graduate credit from another college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association for use in meeting the requirements of the degree. Credits more than six years old at the time of first registration into a degree program are not transferable from other institutions. Transfer credit may not be used in meeting the minimum number of 400-level credit hours required for the degree. The work must not form part of a degree program elsewhere. Under special circumstances, the Graduate School may allow a student to present a larger number of credits if recommended by the department or school. A student who plans to take work elsewhere should obtain prior approval indicating that the course or courses are appropriate to the student's curriculum at Illinois State University. Correspondence courses and independent studies are not accepted toward a degree.
To be considered for transfer of credit, a course must be taught at the graduate level and the student must have received at least a B grade in the course. In addition, a departmental or school evaluation of all courses presented is necessary prior to consideration by the Graduate School. The Request for Transfer of Credit form is at: Grad.IllinoisState.edu/students/forms.
Except in the Wonsook Kim School of Art and Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, a candidate for a master's degree is not required to complete a residency requirement. For specific requirements of the department or school refer to the department or school program description.
Admission to Candidacy
Approved 11/19/87; edited 2/17/15
To be admitted to candidacy for the master's degree the student must have: a) a Degree Audit on file in the Graduate Office, b) completed all deficiencies, c) a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 in graduate course work at Illinois State, and d) a copy of the thesis proposal approval form on file in the Graduate School if choosing a thesis option.
Master’s Comprehensive Examination
Approved 4/14/88; edited 2/17/15; edited 9/19/17; edited 4/24/18
For the comprehensive examination option, a comprehensive examination must be taken by each student before receiving the master’s degree. The content, process, scheduling, administration, and evaluation of the examination (oral, written, performance, or otherwise) are to be determined by each department and school. To apply for comprehensive examinations a student must:
- be in good standing in a program,
- have a Degree Audit on file in the department or school,
- not be on academic probation, and
- have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 at the time of the examination.
The following procedures apply to the comprehensive exam:
- A student who fails the examination must wait until the next academic term before repeating the entire examination unless there are reasons that make an exception advisable. Exceptions must be requested from the Graduate School in writing by the student and advisor/chair/director.
- Students who have twice failed the examination are not to repeat the exam unless they have completed further study as prescribed by the department chair or school director.
- Comprehensive examinations may not be administered more than three times to individual students.
- Department chairs and school directors are to notify students, by letter, of examination results within thirty days from the examination date.
- A copy of this letter is to be sent to the Graduate School. (If it is a student’s second failure, recommendations for further study and appropriate warning of the situation are to be included in the letter.)
- The Graduate School must receive the results from the department or school no fewer than 10 working days before the date of graduation.
- After the first and second failure of comprehensive examination, the student can petition the department/school to repeat the comprehensive examination.
- At the point of the third failure of comprehensive examination, the department/school will recommend to the Graduate School that the student be dismissed from the degree program.
Master’s Thesis Option
The student electing the thesis option must register for a minimum of four and a maximum of six hours of 499, Master's Thesis. Any student using the services of the academic faculty, staff, or the facilities of the University must be registered for the semester or term during which the services are rendered or the facilities are used including the thesis defense. Also, to register for 499 the student must actually be working on the subject under the direction of the advisor or thesis chairperson. No grade will be given for the course but credit will be entered on the student’s record after the final thesis is uploaded to ProQuest and finalized by the Graduate School. No credit for 499 may be given to a student who does not complete a thesis.
Master’s Thesis Committee
Approved 12/11/86; Revised 4/22/04
A thesis is written under the direction of a thesis committee appointed in a manner specified by the department or school. The committee normally consists of three or more members of the Graduate Faculty, but shall not be fewer than two members. The committee chairperson and a majority of the committee shall be full members of the Graduate Faculty from the department or school in which the degree program is located. An associate member may co-chair a thesis with a full member. Proposed committee members who are not members of the Illinois State University Graduate Faculty must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. See the “Graduate Committee Information” section on the “Proposal Approval Form” to indicate the faculty who need approval to serve on the committee. A student must be admitted to a degree program in the Graduate School before a thesis committee can be appointed.
Approved 2/18/99, updated 2/18/99
The Thesis Proposal, including the title, scope, and design, must be approved by the student's thesis committee at the proposal hearing. The Thesis Proposal Approval Form should be completed after the successful proposal hearing and submitted and approved by the Graduate School before a student is admitted to candidacy to embark on thesis research. Institutional policy also requires that all research proposals involving human subjects be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Research proposals involving animals must be reviewed by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Research proposals involving biohazards must be reviewed by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).
In special situations, and only with the approval of the thesis committee, the department chair or school director or designee, and the Graduate School, students may collaborate on some aspects of the work contributing to their theses. However, each thesis submitted to the Graduate School for approval must be a unique product with the degree candidate as the sole author and with due acknowledgment of the contribution of collaborators. The individual student must demonstrate to her or his committee satisfactory command of all aspects of the work presented.
Approved 3/23/95, edited 2/5/08; 2/17/15
A complete draft of the thesis must be uploaded to ProQuest before the “Right to Defend” will be issued to the student. View complete details on the completion of the thesis.
Continuous Thesis Registration
Approved 11/14/96; edited 1/2017
After the Thesis Proposal approval form has been accepted in the Graduate School and a student has completed the courses on the approved degree audit and registered for four to six hours of 499 Master's Thesis, the student is required to maintain continuous registration until the deposit of the final thesis on ProQuest and approval of the final thesis in the Graduate School. The requirement for continuous registration may be fulfilled by maintaining registration of 1 hour of 499 each semester through the semester of degree completion. Students registering for less than 9 credit hours in fall or spring, or less than 6 credit hours in summer, will not have the insurance fee automatically assessed. See the Health Insurance website for further information. The requirement for continuous registration does not apply during a summer term unless the student is graduating in that term. Registration for 499 may be in absentia. If circumstances prohibit continuous registration, a student must request a leave of absence from the department or school and then from the Graduate School. Any student interrupting registration without obtaining a leave of absence, upon re-enrollment and/or reinstatement, must pay tuition and fees for one credit hour of 499, at the current tuition and fee rates, for each of the delinquent semesters. Any student requesting reinstatement in a degree program after a lapse of one calendar year must complete an application for readmission.
Full Time Equivalency 499A90/599A90
If a student has completed the maximum requirement of thesis/dissertation hours for the program, but more time is needed, a student may register for 1 credit of thesis or dissertation for up to two (2) semesters. This 1 credit course will be counted at a level equivalent to full-time study for the purposes of loan deferment, continued use of university student services, and graduate assistant full-time enrollment eligibility requirements. Please note: by enrolling in the 1 credit of thesis or dissertation this does not in any way guarantee a graduate assistant position. Selection of this option only allows a student to meet the full-time eligibility criteria if they are offered a graduate assistant position.
If more time is needed beyond the first two (2) semesters, a formal request for an extension can be made to the graduate school by the thesis/dissertation advisor and/or graduate coordinator. Extension requests would be permitted for a maximum of two (2) additional semesters only. If the extension request is approved, the full-time equivalency could be used for loan deferment or continued use of student services ONLY and would NOT be considered for maintaining eligibility requirements as a graduate assistant.
An extension request must address the following:
- An explanation of why the extension is necessary;
- If the extension is being requested for one or two semesters;
- Explanation of how the student is working at a full-time equivalency on thesis or dissertation work;
- A timeline for completion in the requested time-frame; and
- Approval of the thesis/dissertation advisor, the graduate coordinator, and the Graduate School.
Use of the 1 credit thesis/dissertation option (or extended period) may also affect the cost of attendance if a student is applying for federal and state financial aid. Students should consult the Financial Aid department to determine how use of the option will impact the student’s eligibility for federal and state financial aid.
Two Simultaneous Master's Degrees
Approved 11/6/86, revised 9/19/17
A maximum of 12 hours of course work is allowable to count simultaneously toward two (2) master's degrees provided certain other stipulations are met. These stipulations are as follows:
- that the student must be enrolled in the second master's program at least one semester prior to the completion of the first degree,
- that all requirements for both degree programs be met within the six year time limit,
- that a particular thesis may not be used to meet the degree requirements for more than one degree, and
- that not more than three hours of the 12 hours allowed to count toward the second degree be generated by independent study, practicum, or workshop credit.
Two Simultaneous Sequences
Two sequences offered within the same degree program may be recognized on a student’s transcript if the student is enrolled in both sequences simultaneously as part of the requirements for completing the degree program. A common core of degree requirements and common sequence requirements may be shared across both sequences subject to the following limitations:
- Students must complete the requirements for both sequences before completing the degree requirements.
- The requirements for the two sequences and the degree program must be completed within a six year time limit from the time of admission to the degree program.
- No more than nine hours of independent study (400), workshop (493), or professional practice (498) can be shared for both sequences and the degree program.
Thesis hours may be shared by both sequences.
Students who have been awarded a graduate degree are not eligible to pursue a second sequence within the same degree program under these provisions.