Master's Degree Requirements
In many departments, the master’s degree is considered to be a step toward the doctorate. In some programs, students may pursue a terminal master’s degree. Some departments provide one track for students who will seek the doctoral degree and another track for students who intend to pursue careers outside academia. The Graduate Council’s minimum requirements for the master’s degree are described below. Individual departments often impose additional requirements. Students should consult the department for updated and specific requirements in excess of the minimum requirements.
Degree plans. The master’s degree may be obtained in one of two ways: Plan 1 requires a thesis; Plan 2 requires a comprehensive examination or project. Departments may offer one or both of these plans. Students in either plan must satisfy all departmental and UCSB Graduate Council requirements. The study plan for every master’s student must be approved by the department.
Master’s Plan 1, thesis. In addition to the submission of an acceptable thesis, this plan requires completion of a minimum of 30 units of upper-division and graduate coursework, of which at least 20 units must be at the graduate level (excluding courses numbered 597 or 598, units for teaching assistant duties or training, or service as a graduate student researcher). A maximum of 10 units of the required 20 graduate units may be in 596 coursework. Some departments also require completion of an examination at the conclusion of coursework.
A master’s thesis committee consists of a minimum of three tenure-track faculty members (also called ladder faculty), at least two of whom must be from the student’s home program. The chair (or one of the co-chairs) must be from the student’s home program. Some departments may require more than three ladder faculty on thesis committees, including a faculty member from another discipline. The chair of this committee advises the student on a course of study and usually directs the thesis research. The committee is nominated by the department chair in consultation with the student and approved by the graduate dean. The Graduate Council will consider written requests for exceptions to thesis committee policy from departments. All committee members must approve the thesis.
The thesis must meet the formatting and filing requirements of the Graduate Council. For details, see the Graduate Division publication, UCSB Guide to Filing Theses and Dissertations, available through the Graduate Division Web site at www.graddiv.ucsb.edu under the Academic Services heading. The student is also responsible for fulfilling disciplinary norms and requirements affecting content of theses.
Master’s Plan 2, non-thesis option (comprehensive examination or project). This plan requires completion of at least 36 units of upper-division and graduate coursework plus either (a) a comprehensive final examination set by the major department and administered by a master’s committee appointed by the department, or (b) a research project supervised by at least one ladder faculty member and approved by a project committee that includes at least two members of the department’s ladder faculty. No fewer than 24 of the 36 units required for the non-thesis option must be in graduate courses in the major subject or in graduate courses related to that subject as approved by a graduate advisor. Teaching and research practica, 597, or 598 courses may not be used to meet this minimum unit requirement. No more than half of the required 24 graduate units may be in 596 coursework.