Master of Science Program Requirements
Master of Science programs at SDSM&T may offer 4 options by which a student may complete the requirements for a degree. They are the thesis option, the non-thesis project option, the coursework only option, and the accelerated M.S. program. Professional degrees are typically considered as part of the coursework only option.
Note that additional information regarding limitations on coursework that may be applied toward the degree can be found in other sections of the catalog.
Thesis Option Requirements
The M.S. degree minimum requirements for the thesis option are:
1. a program of at least 30 combined credit hours of coursework and research,
2. at least 15 credit hours of graduate coursework approved by the program (500 level courses and above),
3. at least 6 credit hours of thesis research and no more than 9 credit hours of thesis research, (However, the student may register for additional research credits for continuing registration purposes.)
4. producing a satisfactory thesis based upon individual research (see below),
5. successfully defending the thesis,
6. meeting or exceeding academic standards prescribed elsewhere in this catalog, including maintaining at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Thesis Submission Requirements
The thesis should represent an effort of such quality and construction that it can be displayed in the school library with similar scholarly works, as well as providing material for publication(s) in an appropriate professional journal(s). In lieu of the conventional thesis format, the thesis can consist of a compilation of published and/or submitted journal manuscripts that are derived from the student’s research and are either authored or co-authored by the student. Theses submitted in this form must have an introduction and conclusion to tie the journal papers into a cohesive research paper. The final thesis must be accompanied by an abstract of 250 to 300 words and vitae of the student.
The thesis is written under the direction of the major professor, but the student should seek guidance from all members of the graduate student advisory committee. Before starting to write the thesis, the student is urged to review the document titled “Instructions for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations” on the graduate education website and to consult style manuals online or in the SDSM&T Devereaux Library. In general, the thesis may follow the style of captions, footnotes, and bibliographical references used by the leading technical journal in the student’s field.
A final draft of the thesis should be submitted by the student to each member of the graduate student advisory committee a minimum of 2 full weeks before the time and date of the student’s scheduled defense. Earlier submission deadlines may be required by the graduate student advisory committee.
The dean requires that the graduate student’s committee-approved draft of the thesis be submitted to the Office of Graduate Education by the published deadline (approximately 2 weeks before graduation) to allow adequate time for grammatical review, corrections and revisions. This draft of the thesis, after all revisions recommended by the committee have been made, must be signed by the author and approved, signed, and dated by all committee members, the department head/program coordinator of the student’s major department/program, and the dean of graduate education before any copies are made for final reproduction.
The institution requires one electronic copy and 2 paper copies (the original unbound manuscript and one bound copy) of the thesis to be kept in the Devereaux Library. Additional copies may be required by the student’s program or department. In the case of a proprietary thesis, which requires approval by the dean of
graduate education and the graduate student advisory committee prior to the defense, the original hard copy and digital version will be retained without reproduction in secured Office of Graduate Education files throughout the specified proprietary period, which may not exceed 3 calendar years.
Thesis Defense Requirements
A student pursuing the thesis option must defend the thesis in an oral examination. The defense is open to the public except in preapproved situations where proprietary concerns have been addressed by the graduate student advisory committee and the dean of graduate education prior to the defense. The thesis defense will be scheduled at any time after the student has completed the required coursework and after the graduate student advisory committee is satisfied that the thesis is an acceptable manuscript, in terms of both technical quality and proper expression. The thesis defense may not be scheduled during the period of university final examinations. The final coursework examination and thesis research defense may be combined (see the Final Examination section below).
The student shall obtain and complete the appropriate form to schedule the final examination and/or thesis defense and, in conjunction with the major professor, shall seek the approval of all committee members and file the form with the Office of Graduate Education no less than 5 working days before the exam. The Office of Graduate Education will announce this information to the campus community.
The student’s committee constitutes the examining board for the thesis defense. The major professor will head the session. The major professor is responsible for ensuring that a majority of the committee, as well as the graduate division representative, is present. The defense will not be held if these conditions cannot be met. A negative vote by any 2 or more members of the student’s committee or a negative vote by the graduate division representative will signify failure of the defense, pending review by the graduate student advisory committee and the dean of graduate education.
Results of all written or oral examinations will be attested to by all committee members on a form furnished to the graduate division representative by the Office of Graduate Education. The original form with signatures and dates will be filed with the Office of Graduate Education and a copy with the department/program. If the student passes with reservation or pending correction, a copy of the form will be filed with both offices. The originals will be filed with both offices, with the appropriate affirming signatures, when final corrections have been made and accepted. If the student fails to satisfy the examiners on either coursework or thesis, written or oral examinations, the committee may schedule a re-examination over general background, thesis, or both. The re-examination will be scheduled at the discretion of the graduate student advisory committee, normally 8 to 12 weeks after the date of the first examination. The student may petition his or her committee for re-examination prior to the 8 week limit.
Non-thesis Option Requirements
Students enrolled in a non-thesis program may have the option of completing a non-thesis research project or taking additional course credits in place of the research project credits. The latter option is often referred to as a coursework only option and is common in professional degree programs. Students electing a non-thesis program should check with their program or department to determine which non-thesis options are available to them.
The minimum requirements for the non-thesis M.S. degree option are:
1. a program of at least 32 credit hours of coursework (refer to specific program requirements for exact
number of minimum coursework credit hours),
2. at least 20 credit hours of graduate level coursework approved by the program (500 and above),
3. a maximum of 6 credits of non-thesis research project,
4. meeting or exceeding academic standards prescribed elsewhere in this catalog, including maintaining at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Accelerated M.S. Option Requirements
The accelerated master’s program enables a student to complete both the B.S. and M.S. degrees in as little as 5 years. Up to 12 credits applied toward the B.S. program may be used to satisfy graduate credit requirements. See individual programs for the number of credits allowed by the program. Additional requirements apply; please see the section titled Accelerated Master’s Programs for further information.
A master of science student may be required by his or her program to take a final examination covering course material as a requirement for the degree. The examination may be written, oral, or both. All graduate student committee members must be given the opportunity for input to, and evaluation of, a final examination.
A student pursuing the thesis option must also defend the thesis in an oral examination. The final examination and thesis defense may be combined. Oral examinations, including a thesis defense, are open to all interested faculty members. Departmental or program policy shall determine whether non-faculty persons may attend an oral non-thesis or coursework examination.
The process for scheduling a final examination and the policies governing the examination process are described in the Thesis Defense Requirements section above.
M.S. Participation in Commencement
A student must apply to graduate by completing the application for graduation form on the graduate education website and must meet the program requirements before the degree is awarded. The application for graduation form also serves as a request to participate in the commencement ceremonies. In general, for each degree earned, a student is allowed and encouraged to participate in commencement once and have his or her name in the commencement program once. Note that participation in the commencement ceremony does not equate to the conferring of a degree. The degree is conferred when all requirements are met and the release of diploma process is completed.
The names of all students who have completed the requirements for graduation by the designated spring date will be included in the May program, and students who have completed the requirements by the designated fall date will be included in the December program. The student’s name will appear in the program in the semester of completion whether the student is participating in the ceremony or not, except as noted below.
M.S. students who will complete their degree requirements in the summer term may petition the dean to participate in May commencement. The appropriate form is available on the website. If the petition is approved, his or her name will appear in the May program. If the student is scheduled to graduate in August and does not participate in the May graduation, the student’s name will appear in the December
program and the student is welcome to participate in the December commencement ceremony.
M.S. students who will complete the requirements for a degree after December but substantially before the end of the spring term may petition to participate in December commencement. If the petition is approved, his or her name will be listed in the December program.
Requests for M.S. students to participate in commencement prior to degree completion are typically only granted if:
1. The student has completed all of the research for your thesis topic,
2. The student has substantially completed the writing of major portions of your thesis,
3. The student has an agreed upon defense date, approved by all committee members, within approximately 30 days of the commencement ceremony,
4. The student has completed all of the courses necessary for your degree.
A student who wishes to participate in a commencement ceremony later than the semester in which the degree is completed must notify the Office of Graduate Education of his or her intent prior to the end of the semester in which the degree requirements are met. In general, a student is allowed to participate in a commencement ceremony within one year of completing the requirements for the degree.
Time Limitation for M.S. Degree
A master of science degree program must be completed within 5 calendar years dating from the student’s formal entrance into a degree seeking program. In exceptional circumstances, students may petition the dean of graduate education for an extension to the 5 year time limit. Courses taken by the student at any institution that may be credited to the degree program and that were taken more than 5 years prior to the date of anticipated graduation must be reviewed by the student’s major department/program and the dean of graduate education for possible acceptance. Following this review, the student’s major department/program and the dean of graduate education will determine whether a reduction in credits applicable toward the degree, a re-examination, or both, is required for the student to complete his or her degree program. The applicable forms are available at the graduate education website.
A student who is granted a leave of absence (see section titled Leave of Absence) will not be subject to continuing registration, and the leave of absence will not count toward the time limits to complete his or her program of study.