REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO MASTER'S DEGREES


Master of Arts and Master of Science Degrees
Professional Master's Degrees

Master of Arts and Master of Science Degrees

Master of Arts (MA) degrees are awarded for completion of graduate programs in various departments within the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; the Master of Science (MS) degree is offered in departments within the School of Arts and Sciences, the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Education, the John A. Swanson School of Engineering, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Public Health, the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Social Work. Some of the MA or MS degrees offered are specified as being "in" a particular discipline; e.g., Master of Science in Chemical Engineering.

Programs of Study

The MA and MS degree programs provide an introduction to scholarly activities and research and often serve as preparation for teaching careers. These degrees are awarded for the completion of a coherent program designed to assure the mastery of specified knowledge and skills, rather than a random accumulation of a certain number of courses. The overall form and content of the student's program of study is the responsibility of the faculty of the department or program. To carry out this responsibility, each student must be assigned a major adviser, who, in consultation with the student, plans a program of study and research in accord with school and departmental guidelines.

At least four courses (12 credits) or one-half the master's degree program, whichever is greater, must be at the graduate level (the 2000 or 3000 series) and must be completed with at least an average grade of B (3.00). No course numbered below 1000 or from 7000 to 7999 may be applied toward graduate degree requirements.

Some master's programs may include approved areas of concentration or minors. Areas of concentration define and describe the student's training and expertise within the broader discipline. Minors represent significant coursework completed in an area related to the student's specialty. Such areas of concentration or minors are added to the transcript upon the granting of the degree.

Master's degrees are conferred only on those students who have completed all courses required for the degree with at least a 3.00 GPA.

The requirement of proficiency in foreign languages is at the discretion of individual departments or schools.

Departments or programs are expected to provide students with a copy of school and departmental regulations appropriate for their program. Students are expected to become familiar with these and to satisfy all prescribed degree requirements.

Credit Requirements

The Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees normally require the satisfactory completion of approximately 30 credits of graduate study approved by the department or school. No Master of Arts or Master of Science degree program may require fewer than 24 course credits. Not more than six credits may be granted toward the completion of the requirements for a master's degree for work completed at another graduate institution. (See Acceptance of Transfer Credits for further information.)

Comprehensive Examination

MA or MS degrees are conferred only upon those students who, in one or more comprehensive examination or the equivalent, show that they have mastered the general field of their graduate study. Each department or similar unit is responsible for specifying the content and procedure for administration of the comprehensive examination and will specify for each candidate the field of his or her examination, which may vary from student to student. Whenever a program substitutes an equivalent requirement for the comprehensive examination, the department or program should notify the University Council on Graduate Study and describe the substitution.

Students on special or provisional status are not eligible to take a comprehensive examination. These examinations must be taken at least one month prior to the last day of the term in which the degree is to be granted. The results must be reported promptly to the office of the dean but no later than the last day of the term in which the examination is administered. A student who is unable to complete all degree requirements within a two-year period after passing the comprehensive examination may be re-examined at the discretion of the department, program director, or dean.

Thesis Option

The requirement of a thesis or its equivalent is at the discretion of individual departments, programs, or schools. If a thesis is submitted, its form must be in accord with specifications stipulated in the Format Guidelines for Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Preparation as the University of Pittsburgh. The thesis examining committee will consist of at least three members of the faculty recommended by the major adviser and approved by the department chair or program director. The final oral examination in defense of the master's thesis is conducted by the thesis committee, and a report of this examination signed by all members of the committee must be filed in the office of the dean. After the examination, all master’s theses must be submitted electronically and will be made available through PITT Cat, the University Library System’s online catalog.

Non-thesis Option

It is usual for a program to require additional course work if a thesis is not required.

For the Master of Arts degree, each student must describe one or more substantial intellectual experience(s) or accomplishment(s) acceptably in writing. In programs in which a master's thesis is optional, the student must satisfy this requirement by submitting a paper (or papers), as designated by the major department, and must demonstrate competence in using the methods of scholarship.

For the Master of Science degree, a paper or research project is usually required.

Professional Master's Degrees

The University of Pittsburgh, through its professional schools, offers the following master's degrees in professional fields of study: Master of Business Administration, Master of Dental Science, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Education, Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing, Master of Health Administration, Master of Health Promotion and Education, Master of Science in Information Science, Master of International Business, Master of International Development, Master of Law, Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Applied Mathematics (MA and MS), Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Occupational Therapy, Master of Physical Therapy, Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Public and International Affairs, Master of Public Policy and Management, Master of Social Work, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Master of Science in Telecommunications.

Programs of Study

The professional master's degree programs are generally similar to those for the MA and MS except that they emphasize instruction in professional affairs and practice and serve as preparation for careers in the professions. The program of study should be a coherent program designed to assure the mastery of specified knowledge and skills, rather than a random accumulation of a certain number of courses. The overall form and content of the student's program of study is the responsibility of the student's department or school. To carry out this responsibility, each student must be assigned a major adviser, who, in consultation with the student, plans a program of study and research in accord with school and departmental guidelines.

At least one-half of the credits earned in a master's degree program must be at the graduate level (the 2000 or 3000 series) and must be completed with at least an average grade of B (3.00). No courses numbered below 1000 or from 7000 to 7999 may be applied toward graduate degree requirements.

Master's degrees are conferred only on those students who have completed all course requirements with at least a 3.00 GPA.

Departments or programs are expected to provide students with a copy of school and departmental regulations appropriate for their programs. Students are expected to become familiar with these and to satisfy all prescribed degree requirements.

Credit Requirements

The professional master's degrees normally require the satisfactory completion of more than 30 credits of graduate study approved by the department. No professional master's degree program may require fewer than 30 credits. No more than one-third of the total number of required credits may be granted to a student as transfer credit for work done at another graduate institution. (See Acceptance of Transfer Credits.)

Additional Requirements

Most professional master's degree programs provide opportunities for theoretical studies and practical applications. Students are expected to acquire professional skills through course work, projects, internships, practica, and/or research papers.

Student Assessment

Professional master's degrees are conferred upon those students who demonstrate comprehensive mastery of the general field of study. This includes: a) satisfactory completion of all course requirements and b) other performances which indicate comprehensive mastery such as examinations, internships, research projects, theses, practica, and so forth. These requirements vary from school to school.


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