Jul 18, 2024  
2019-2020 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2019-2020 SDSM&T Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Education Policies

I. Admissions Policies      VI. General Degree Requirements     
     I.1. General Requirements for Graduate Admissions      VI.1. Supervision of Advanced Degree Programs
     I.2. International Student Admissions           VI.1.a. Composition of Graduate Commitees
          I.2.a. English Proficiency           VI.1.b. Changes in Commitee Membership
          I.2.b. International Transcript Evaluation Requirements           VI.1.c. Emergency Commitee Substitutions
          I.2.c. Visa Requirements      VI.2. Program of Study
          I.2.d. Medical Insurance      VI.3. Certification of Degree Requirements    
       VI.4. Credit Policies for All Graduate Degrees
II. Funding Policies                 VI.4.a. Graduate Course Level Requirements    
     II.1. Graduate Assistantships            VI.4.b. Advanced Degree Grade Requirements
     II.2. Assistantships with Tuition and/or Fee Support            VI.4.c. Research Credits
     II.3. Graduate Fellowships and Other Resources            VI.4.d. Dual Credit for Mulitple Programs
             VI.4.e. Graduate Credits Earned at SD Mines
III. Registration Policies              VI.4.f. Applying Credits from Outside Institutions
     III.1. Graduate Student Registration            VI.4.g. Applying Undergraduate Level Credits Toward an Advanced Degree
     III.2. Definition of Full Time and Half Time Registration            VI.4.h. Applying Graduate Level Credits Taken as an Undergraduate Toward an Advanced Degree
     III.3. Continuing Registration Requirements            VI.4.i. Applying Graduate Level Credits Taken as an Undergraduate Student or Special Graduate Student Toward an Advanced Degree
     III.4. Minimum Academic Load      VI.5. Theis/Dissertation Submission Requirements
     III.5. Maximum Academic Load      VI.6. Thesis/Dissertation Defense Requirements
     III.6. Leave of Absence      VI.7. Time Limitation for Graduate Degrees
     III.7. Registration at Other Institutions      VI.8. Participation in Commencement
             VI.8.a. Applying to Graduate
IV. Enrollment Policies                VI.8.b. PhD Student Deadlines for Participation
     IV.1. Dual Enrollment in PhD and MS Programs            VI.8.c. Master’s Student Deadlines for Participation
     IV.2. Accelerated Master’s Programs       VI.9. Catalog of Graduation for Graduate Students
     IV.3. Change of Program  
     IV.4. Adding a PhD Program VII. Master’s Degree Requirements  
     IV.5. Non-degree Seeking Graduate Students      VII.1. Master’s Program Requirements
     IV.6. Probation and Reinstatement Policy      VII.2. Thesis Option Requirements
     IV.7. Appeal procedure             VII.2.a. Thesis Submission Requirements
              VII.2.b. Thesis Defense Requirements
V. Grade Policies           VII.3. Non-thesis Option Requirements
     V.1. Graduate Grading System       VII.4. Accelerated MS Option Requirements
     V.2. Course Retake Policy       VII.5. Final Examination
     V.3. Pass-Fail Option for Graduate Students       
     V.4. Grade Appeal Procedure VIII. PhD Degree Requirements  
     V.5. Calculation of Graduate GPA       VIII.1. PhD Program Requirements
        VIII.2. The Qualifying Examination
        VIII.3. The Comprehensive Examination and Admission to PhD Candidacy
        VIII.4. Dissertation Submission Requirements
        VIII.5. Dissertation Defense Requirements
        VIII.6. Residence Requirements


Graduate Student General Information

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SD Mines) offers graduate degree programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. The graduate programs provide opportunities for advanced study and research in the fields of engineering and science. Each individual degree program of study is designed to broaden and extend the student’s knowledge within the chosen field, to develop the power of independent critical thinking, and to promote individual and cooperative research skills.

The first master’s degree program was authorized at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in October 1935, and the first degree was granted in 1937. Permission to offer the first PhD program was granted in January 1967 to the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering. Seven additional PhD programs have been authorized since that time with the most recent addition being a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2014. The Office of Graduate Education was created in the 1950-51 academic year.

The policies of the Office of Graduate Education are formulated by the Council of Graduate Education, which is advisory to the dean of graduate education. The policies are approved by the SD Mines administration, the SD Mines Faculty Senate, and the South Dakota Board of Regents when applicable and are administered by the dean of graduate education. This catalog provides the rules which apply to graduate students.

In the following descriptions the term “program” refers to a department, a division in a department such as the Construction Engineering and Management program within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, or a non-departmental unit such as Biomedical Engineering, Materials Engineering and Science, or Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. Forms mentioned in the catalog are available at the Office of Graduate Education and on the Office of Graduate Education website.

Nature and Purpose of the Graduate Programs

The non-thesis and professional master’s programs are designed to build a student’s depth and breadth of knowledge and to enhance the student’s preparation for a career in industry.  Development of technical and managerial knowledge through course work is the primary focus of these degree programs. Programs typically include a combination of required and elective courses outlined in an individualized program of study supervised by a program coordinator. Some degrees may also encourage or require the completion of an independent project.

The MS thesis and PhD graduate programs are designed to prepare a student for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry that manifests itself in creative scholarship and research, often leading to professional careers in academia, government, business, and industrial organizations.  These programs emphasize freedom of inquiry and expression and development of the student’s capacity to make significant contributions to knowledge.  An essential element is the development of the ability to understand and evaluate critically the literature of the field and to apply appropriate principles and procedures to the recognition, evaluation, interpretation, and understanding of issues and problems at the frontiers of knowledge.  These goals are most effectively accomplished in close association with those experienced in research and teaching.

A central purpose of doctoral programs and Master of Science thesis programs is the extension of knowledge, but this cannot be accomplished on all fronts simultaneously. Students must choose an area in which to specialize, a faculty member with whom to work, and a research topic of mutual interest to the student and the faculty advisor.  Individualized programs of study are then developed and committee members are selected cooperatively as coursework and research are undertaken.  When all coursework has been completed, the research finished, the thesis or dissertation written, and all examinations passed, the student will have acquired the knowledge and skills expected of a scholar and will have expanded the knowledge and research capability in the field.

The Council of Graduate Education

Graduate education and graduate research are among the most important functions of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T). They constitute an important element of the vitality of scholarly inquiry and intellectual achievement in the university. An important responsibility for all matters pertaining to graduate education and graduate research rests with the faculty. To provide for an important mechanism for the faculty to create, foster and maintain graduate education and graduate research programs of high quality and accomplishment the Council of Graduate Education is formed to:

  1. Advise the Graduate Dean on all matters pertaining to graduate education,
  2. Establish and revise policies of graduate education,
  3. Review and approve/disapprove of proposed graduate programs, courses and revisions,
  4. Review student applications for fellowships and scholarships sponsored by the Graduate Office and decide on awards.
  5. Conduct strategic planning for graduate education.


Graduate level curricula developments proposed by departments will be submitted to the Council of Graduate Education (CGE) for review and appropriate endorsement for consideration by the Faculty Senate. Policies of graduate education approved by the CGE will be reported to the Faculty Senate.


The Chairperson of the Council of Graduate Education shall be the Dean of Graduate Education. The Chair of the CGE shall report the results of the CGE recommendations on graduate education curricula, courses, and programs to the Curriculum Committee, and subsequent consideration by the Faculty Senate, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Chair of the CGE shall report CGE policy recommendations directly to the Faculty Senate for their consideration, and subsequent consideration of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.


The membership of the Council of Graduate Education shall consist of voting representatives from each department with a graduate program. Departments with one, two or more graduate programs will have one representative. Each interdisciplinary and/or interdepartmental graduate program shall also have one voting representative. Representatives are to be selected by each Department or Program. Departments that do not have graduate programs may appoint non- voting representatives.

Graduate Programs 

For a list of graduate programs and more information about them, please visit the Graduate Programs Listing  section of this catalog.