Policies

Master's Program Policies 

Master's Admission Requirements 

Admission to a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, or recognized foreign institution, and a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in the overall bachelor's degree program or in the last 60 attempted semester hours of undergraduate studies. Some master's programs do not require a GRE or GMAT score for the admissions process while others do. Please see the Graduate Programs section of the catalog for information about specific program requirements.   

Programs often require additional or higher criteria. An applicant's character, integrity and general fitness to practice a particular profession may also be considered in the admission process. The university encourages applications from a diverse population and values diversity in our graduate programs.

Course Requirements

The program requirements for a master's degree may include core and elective courses, seminars, independent study, clinical courses, directed research, and thesis research.

  • A minimum of 30 semester hours of postbaccalaureate, graduate work (5000-level or higher) is required and must be taken as part of an approved graduate program of study. Some programs require more than the minimum of 30 hours because of the nature of the discipline and the standards of the associated profession.
  • At least half of the credit hours used to meet program requirements must be at the 6000 level.
  • Only graduate-level work with a grade of "C-" or higher may be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  • For the master’s degree, at least 24 semester hours of core and elective courses must be earned exclusive of thesis and research.
  • In no case will the number of thesis hours in excess of the amount required by a program be counted toward degree completion.
  • At least 50 percent of the credits offered for the degree are expected to be derived from a single field of concentration (that is, from one department). However, programs that are interdisciplinary in nature may be exempt from this policy upon approval from the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee.
  • A research report, capstone course, comprehensive exam, or other culminating experience that demonstrates that graduate students have engaged in independent learning is required in a nonthesis option master's program. An explanation of how the culminating experience promotes independent learning is required in each program's curricular description.
  • A thesis hour requirement may only be satisfied by enrollment in thesis hours.
  • In the case where a student changes from a thesis to a nonthesis option, up to 6 thesis hours may be used to substitute for other research hours.

Independent Study Hours

Independent study (XXX 6908) may be taken for a total of no more than six semester hours.

Residence Credit

The master's degree program must include at least 21 semester credit hours taken at UCF. Residence credits may be earned through enrollment in courses physically offered on the main campus; or at the UCF regional campuses (Brevard, Daytona Beach, and Downtown); or at geographical locations where UCF courses are being taught by regular UCF faculty members. Residence credits may also include UCF courses offered through the web or courses taken as a Traveling Scholar if prior approval is obtained.

Transfer of Credit

Any credits taken prior to the term of admission to your program and used to satisfy specific program requirements are considered graduate transfer credits.

The acceptance of transfer credits in a program of study must be approved by the program. Graduate programs may stipulate additional constraints beyond those included in the university transfer policy.

All transfer credits toward a master’s or specialist degree should be finalized by the end of the second term of program enrollment (based on full-time enrollment), and must be finalized by the end of the term prior to the term of expected graduation.

The thesis credit requirement of a program may not be satisfied by transfer credits.

Students with international transfer credits from recognized international institutions may be required to obtain a Joseph Silny evaluation.

No more than 9 credit hours from a previously earned degree may be used to satisfy the requirements of a master’s degree, except as part of a formally approved accelerated bachelor’s/master’s program.

The total number of transfer credits may not exceed 50% of program requirements, except under two circumstances.

  1. UCF graduate certificate credits: up to all of the hours taken to fulfill an earned UCF graduate certificate can be used toward a graduate degree within the same or closely related discipline. If the number of transfer credits for an earned UCF graduate certificate is equal to or exceeds 50% of program requirements, additional transfer credits are not allowed.
  2. Transfer of credits from a UCF doctoral program to a master’s program (other than master’s degrees obtained along the way to a doctoral degree): transfer of credits that exceed 50% of program requirements is at the discretion of the program and requires approval of the Appeals Committee.

Two different types of transfer credit can be brought into a master’s program of study.

  1. External transfer credits: graduate-level course credits completed at a regionally accredited institution (excluding UCF) or recognized international institution.
  2. External credits are eligible for transfer only if they meet the following criteria:

    • Only graduate-level or higher courses may be accepted as transfer credits.
    • Only courses with a grade of "B-" or higher are allowed to be transferred into a program of study (not petitionable).
    • Only hours that are no more than seven years old at the time the degree is conferred may be transferred, unless part of an earned graduate or professional degree.
    • Only formal course work hours, but not thesis or research hours, may be used as transfer credits (not petitionable).

    External transfer credits are limited to up to 9 credit hours.

  3. Internal transfer credits: graduate-level course credits completed
    1. at UCF prior to enrolling in the program for which the degree is sought, including those taken in undergraduate status at UCF as part of a Senior Scholar or accelerated program; or
    2. as a Traveling Scholar (see Traveling Scholars in the General Graduate Policies for more information).

Internal credits are eligible for transfer only if they meet the following criteria:

  • Only graduate-level courses may be accepted as transfer credits.
  • Only courses with a grade of "B-" or higher are allowed to be transferred into a program of study (not petitionable).  
  • Only hours that are no more than seven years old at the time the degree is conferred may be transferred, unless part of an earned graduate degree.

Graduate degree programs are permitted to accept up to nine hours of graduate-level course work taken by a student while in undergraduate status at UCF. More than nine hours may be accepted if part of a formally approved accelerated program.

The sum of transfer credits from an earned graduate or professional degree, external transfer credits, and transfer credits from graduate-level course work taken by a student while in undergraduate status at UCF may not exceed nine credit hours.

Summary Table of Transfer Credit Limits
Student Situation Specific Requirements General Requirements
Transfer credits from an earned graduate degree ≤ 9 SCH Sum may not exceed 9 SCH
External credits ≤ 9 SCH
Graduate-level credits while in UCF undergraduate status ≤ 9 SCH
Other internal transfer credits    Total transfer credits may not exceed 50% of program requirements*

*Exceptions:

  • May exceed 50% only if all transfer credits are from a single earned UCF graduate certificate; no additional credits may be transferred.
  • Transfer of credits from a UCF doctoral program to a master’s program within the same discipline.

Accelerated Undergraduate and Graduate Programs

Some programs combine undergraduate and graduate course work in a more seamless educational experience for students, reducing the time spent working on both degrees and providing a challenging educational experience to outstanding undergraduates. These accelerated bachelor's and master's (4+1) programs usually will allow students to complete a bachelor's and master's degree within about five years and are intended for only the most highly qualified undergraduate students.

While students are classified as undergraduate students, they are subject to undergraduate policies. Similarly, when classified as graduate students, they are subject to graduate policies and may qualify for graduate financial support.

The undergraduate requirements listed in the Graduate Catalog for specific programs are for informational purposes only. The official requirements are detailed in the Undergraduate Catalog and take precedence over what is described here.

Senior Scholars

UCF undergraduates who meet departmental eligibility requirements may enroll in UCF graduate courses and use them toward their undergraduate degree and their graduate program of study upon admission to a UCF graduate program. As Senior Scholars, they are entitled to use up to nine graduate credit hours (more may apply for some accelerated programs) toward a UCF graduate degree or certificate, provided they have received advisement and written approval to do so from the graduate program director. This permission must be obtained before enrolling in the graduate courses. In addition to approval from the graduate program director, undergraduates must consult their undergraduate adviser to ensure that registration in graduate-level course work will meet their bachelor's degree requirements. The student must receive college and university approval to interrupt the residency requirement. The University Waiver Form can be obtained from the undergraduate department office. Tuition and fees for graduate-level courses are different from undergraduate courses, and it is the student's responsibility to consult with the Office of Student Financial Assistance (http://finaid.ucf.edu/) regarding adjustments that might be needed for Bright Futures and other scholarship funding.

Time Limitation for Degree Completion

The student has seven years from the date of admission (prerequisite, articulation, and foundation courses are exempt) to the master's program to complete the degree. In addition, no course older than seven years at the time of graduation may be used in the Program of Study for a master's degree. Students who do not maintain continuous enrollment (missing enrollment at the university for a period of three consecutive semesters) must file for readmission to the university, although seven years is measured from when the student was first admitted to the program.

Readmission

Master's students should maintain continuous enrollment in their degree program. Students who anticipate that they may not be able to enroll continuously due to external circumstances should apply for a Special Leave of Absence (see Special Leave of Absence in the General Graduate Policies).

If master's students do not maintain continuous enrollment and have not filed for a special leave of absence (see Continuous Attendance in the General Graduate Policies), they must file for readmission to the university. To file for readmission, the student must complete a new online Application. For more information about readmission, refer to the Admissions section of this catalog.

Readmission decisions are individually made, based on such factors as space in the program, reasons for the break in graduate education, progress in the degree program, among others. Readmission is not guaranteed.

Other Academic Requirements

Comprehensive Culminating Experience

An appropriate culminating academic experience is required of all master's degree students. It may include a thesis defense, written or oral examination, research report, capstone course, presentation and defense of a portfolio of student work, or other appropriate scholarly activity of a type that has been approved by the Graduate Council that demonstrates that graduate students have engaged in independent learning. An explanation of how the culminating experience promotes independent learning is required in each program's curricular description.

Advisement

Appointment of Committee or Adviser

An academic adviser and advisory committee is required when the student is enrolled in a thesis option and can be useful when there is substantial flexibility in course work. It is the responsibility of the department to appoint an adviser and advisory committee.

Thesis Requirements

The thesis is the culminating or comprehensive experience for those who conduct an original research study as part of a thesis-option program. The thesis consists of a common theme with an introduction and literature review, details of the study, and results and conclusions. Since the work is original, it is very important that care is taken in properly citing ideas and quotations of others. Academic dishonesty in thesis, research report and dissertation work may result in termination from the degree program.

An oral defense of the thesis is required. The approved thesis must be written and prepared in accordance with program, college, and university requirements. Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) describes university requirements and formatting instructions for theses and outlines the steps that graduate students must follow in order to submit their theses electronically to the UCF College of Graduate Studies.

Additionally, the Thesis and Dissertation Office offers workshops to inform graduate students about procedures, deadlines, and requirements associated with preparing a thesis.

Thesis students are required to submit their thesis electronically. Electronic thesis/dissertation (ETD) submissions are archived by the UCF library in digital format that is widely accessible. The electronic thesis may include video and audio clips as well as other formats that are appropriate for the field of study.

All theses that use research involving human subjects, including surveys, must obtain approval from an independent board, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to starting the research. Graduate students and the faculty that supervise them are required to attend training on IRB policies, so this needs to start well in advance of the research start date. It is imperative that proper procedures are followed when using human subjects in research projects. Information about this process can be obtained from the Office of Research and Commercialization (www.research.ucf.edu). Click on "Compliance" and the IRB Policy and Procedures Manual is available. In addition, should the nature of the research or the faculty supervision change since the IRB approval was obtained, then new IRB approval must be sought. Failure to obtain this prior approval could jeopardize receipt of the student's degree.

Students who wish to complete their degree requirements in a given semester must take their oral defense and submit their final electronic copy to the UCF College of Graduate Studies by the dates shown in the Academic Calendar.

Thesis Advisory Committee Membership

A student writing a thesis must have a Thesis Advisory Committee consisting of at least three members who are approved members of the Graduate Faculty or Graduate Faculty Scholars (www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/gradfaculty/). This committee will recommend to the Dean of the college regarding the student's program of study, provide continual guidance for the student, and be the principal mechanism for the evaluation of the student's thesis and performance in any general examinations. At least two members of the Thesis Advisory Committee must be Graduate Faculty, one of whom must serve as the chair of the committee. Graduate Faculty Scholars may serve as a member or co-chair of a thesis advisory committee but may not serve as the chair.

Program areas may specify additional committee membership beyond the minimum of three. These committee members must also be approved members of the Graduate Faculty or Graduate Faculty Scholars. Graduate Faculty members must form the majority of any given committee. Additional information regarding the criteria for serving as a member, co-chair, or chair of a Thesis Advisory Committee is provided in the updated Graduate Faculty policy.

Committee membership must be approved by the program director and submitted to the College of Graduate Studies. All members must be in fields related to the thesis topic. The UCF College of Graduate Studies reserves the right to review appointments to a Thesis Advisory Committee, place a representative on any Thesis Advisory Committee, or appoint a co-chair. A student may request a change in membership of the Thesis Advisory Committee with the approval of the program director and re-submission to the College of Graduate Studies.

All committee members vote on acceptance or rejection of the final thesis. The thesis proposal and final thesis must be approved by a majority of the committee. 

Responsibilities of Members of Thesis Advisory Committees

All members of the doctoral advisory committee have responsibilities. See the Graduate Faculty and Graduate Faculty Scholars Policy for this information.

Enrollment in Thesis Hours

After completion of other course requirements, master's level students may be considered full-time if they enroll in at least three credit hours of thesis (XXX 6971) hours only. They subsequently must enroll in three thesis hours each semester continuously (including summers) until successful completion of minimum program coursework and thesis hours. After which, with approval of the thesis committee chair or adviser, students may enroll in minimum of one thesis hour per semester.  Students enrolled in thesis hours simultaneously with coursework hours must be enrolled in a combined nine credit hours to be considered full time for the fall and spring semesters, or six credit hours to be enrolled full time in the summer semester. Students who need to interrupt their thesis work for extenuating circumstances must submit a Leave of Absence Form to the College of Graduate Studies. Submission and approval of the form must be obtained prior to the first day of classes for the term of non-enrollment. 

Thesis Defense

Thesis defenses will be approved by a majority vote of the Thesis Advisory Committee. Thesis committee members who do not approve of the thesis may choose not to sign the thesis approval sheet. Further approval is required from the Dean or Dean designee and the UCF College of Graduate Studies before final acceptance of the thesis in fulfilling degree requirements. 

Virtual Thesis Defenses

Graduate programs may elect to offer the option of a virtual thesis defense (student off-campus defense) upon approval of the program coordinator/director, the department, and the college. Programs that choose to offer the option of a virtual defense must develop and ensure procedures for the implementation of the virtual defense process and procedures must be published in the program’s handbook. These procedures should address the form and time for the student’s request for a virtual defense, the process for seeking approval, the teleconferencing facilities and equipment to be used, the availability of technical support during the defense, alternative plans if needed, and other relevant issues. Use of a web conferencing platform like Lync or Adobe Connect is recommended as is the preparation of participants and testing of the system prior to the defense date. Students should also seek approval for a virtual defense by the time they file the intent to graduate. It is expected that at minimum the thesis committee chair will be present at the campus location of the public defense. Individual programs may add further restrictions or requirements for students to proceed with virtual defenses.

Review for Original Work

The university requires all students submitting a thesis as part of their graduate degree requirements to first have their electronic documents submitted through iThenticate for advisement purposes and for review of originality. The thesis chair is responsible for scheduling this submission to iThenticate and for reviewing the results from iThenticate with the student's advisory committee. The advisory committee uses the results appropriately to assist the student in the preparation of their thesis.

Before the student may be approved for final submission to the university, the thesis chair must indicate completion of the Review for Original Work through iThenticate by signing the Thesis Approval Form.

Thesis Dissemination

While UCF respects the wishes of students who would like to publish their work and/or apply for patents, it is essential for scholarly research conducted at a university to be available for dissemination. While several options are available for the release of an ETD, it is the goal of the university that all theses be available through the UCF Libraries catalog. Upon uploading the final ETD to the UCF Libraries ETD website, students, in some cases with their advisers, must choose one of the options for the availability of their ETD through UCF. Students with potential patent concerns are required to discuss the following options with their thesis adviser and indicate the availability choice on the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option electronic form, which the student submits in the myUCF Student Center.

For those with no patent or copyright concerns:

  • Immediate worldwide dissemination with no restrictions.

For those who have patent issues, dissemination options must be discussed and agreed to with your adviser. Choices are:

  • Pending dissemination of the entire work for six months for patent or other proprietary issues, with an additional six months extension available. Once the patent and proprietary issues are resolved, then immediate worldwide dissemination with no restrictions.
  • Pending dissemination of the entire work for six months for patent or other proprietary issues, with an additional six months extension available. Once the patent and proprietary issues are resolved, choosing this option allows the student to make the thesis available to the university community for the period chosen below, and then for it to be distributed via the Web beyond that time.
    • one year
    • three years*
    • five years*

For those who have copyright concerns, dissemination options are a student decision within the guidelines of individual departments that may have requirements for dissemination. If a department has no guidelines for dissemination, then students are free to choose one of the options below. In general, those in the sciences and engineering will choose one year while students in the arts and humanities may choose longer. Choosing this option allows the student to make the thesis available to the university community for the period chosen below, and then for it to be distributed via the Web beyond that time.

  • one year
  • three years*
  • five years*

*Does not require thesis adviser signature and approval.

Public Access

Students, faculty, staff, and other interested parties are strongly encouraged to attend thesis final defense sessions. Notices providing date, time, and location of such meetings must be distributed to all academic departments.

These sessions are educational and informative for graduate students and provide an opportunity for colleagues to observe the work of their peers. At the discretion of the Chair of the Thesis Advisory Committee, questions may be invited from the audience. That part of the session involving committee discussion leading to a vote on the acceptance of the work will be closed. Sessions may be recessed briefly to excuse visitors and the candidate before this stage begins.

Conferral of Master’s Degrees for Students in Doctoral Degree Programs

A student making satisfactory progress in a doctoral program may be eligible to be awarded a master’s degree in the same discipline. The master’s degree program and the College of Graduate Studies have the authority to determine whether the doctoral program credits satisfactorily fulfill the master’s degree requirements. All requirements for the master’s degree must be fulfilled, including passing all examinations and submitting a thesis, if so required. Up to a maximum of 9 SCH of substitutions are allowable, provided that the substitutions are higher level courses for their precise lower level counterparts, exclusive of substitutions for thesis hours.

 In such cases:

  1. The program requirements for the master’s degree are governed by the requirement term used for the doctoral degree program.
  2. The two degrees are not considered to be part of a formal “dual degree” program and, therefore, are not subject to the policies governing dual degree programs.
  3. Courses credited towards the Master's degree are not implemented as transfer credits to another program, and therefore fall outside of the transfer credit policy.

The general restriction that no credit hours may be counted for more than two degree programs applies to these master’s degrees as well. Credits from a previously earned master's degree may not be used to fulfill the requirements of a master's degree for a student in a doctoral degree program (a "master's along-the-way").


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