Degree Requirements

Residence Requirement

A major purpose of the residence requirements for graduate degrees is to ensure that the student has an opportunity to benefit from the advantages of a university environment. These advantages include accessibility of library, laboratory and other physical facilities, and also the opportunity to participate in seminars and a variety of cultural activities. Equally important to the graduate student are the advantages of becoming acquainted with the faculty and other students on a personal and a professional basis.

A student “in residence” is expected to devote most of his or her time and energy to graduate studies under the direction of the student’s advisory committee chair and the advisory committee. Another major purpose of the residence requirements for graduate degrees is to ensure that the faculty have the opportunity to properly evaluate the student and his or her development, to guide and direct his or her studies, and to determine competency.

The minimum time required to qualify for an advanced degree varies with the ability and preparation of the student. A student may find it necessary to extend his/her studies beyond the minimum requirements. For specific minimum residence requirements, a student should check the additional requirements for the degree which he/she is pursuing.

Degree Plan

A graduate student must file a degree plan which includes those courses to be applied toward a particular degree and formally establishes the advisory committee. Courses previously used for another degree are not acceptable for degree plan credit. Changes in the approved degree plan may be made by petition to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. A student should submit the degree plan and petitions using the online Document Processing Submission System located on the website at https://ogsdpss.tamu.edu.

Lower division undergraduate coursework (100- and 200-level) may not be used for credit toward a graduate degree. Coursework applied to a previous degree may not be used toward a graduate degree. Coursework may not be used to satisfy requirements for more than one degree. Additional coursework may be added to the approved degree plan by the student’s advisory committee if such additional coursework is needed to correct deficiencies in the student’s academic preparation. Specific details and requirements for each degree program may be obtained from the student’s academic department or the specific degree program requirements provided in the catalog. No changes can be made to the degree plan once the student’s Request for Final Examination or Request for Final Examination Exemption is approved by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Courses listed on the degree plan are subject to degree program time limits. Please refer to the Time Limits section in each degree program section in which the student is presently enrolled.

Petitions

Graduate students may use petitions to

  1. request a change of major, degree or department;
  2. request changes to the coursework or committee membership as established by the degree plan;
  3. request extensions to time limits; or
  4. request exceptions to published rules.

Each petition will be considered on its own merit by the Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies. The student should make such requests by submitting either a Major, Degree, or Department petition (MDD) or a Long Form petition. The petition will be routed for the required approval by the members of the student’s advisory committee, if appointed, and the department head, or his or her designee (or chair of the intercollegiate faculty, if appropriate).

Preliminary Examination For Doctoral Students

The student’s major department (or chair of the intercollegiate faculty, if applicable) and his or her advisory committee may require qualifying, cumulative or other types of examinations at any time deemed desirable. These examinations are entirely at the discretion of the department and the student’s advisory committee.

The preliminary examination is required. The preliminary examination for a doctoral student shall be given no earlier than a date at which the student is within 6 credit hours of completion of the formal coursework on the degree plan (i.e., all coursework on the degree plan except 681, 684, 690, 691, 5V98, 5V99 and 692 courses). The student is strongly encouraged to complete the Preliminary Examination no later than the end of the semester following the completion of the formal coursework on the degree plan. The Office of Graduate and Professional Studies must receive the results of the preliminary examination at least 14 weeks prior to the final examination date. The examination shall be oral and written unless otherwise recommended by the student’s advisory committee and approved by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. The written part of the examination will cover all fields of study included in the student’s degree plan. Each member of the advisory committee is responsible for administering a written examination in his or her particular field, unless he or she chooses to waive participation in this part of the examination. Two or more members of the advisory committee may give a joint written examination. One or more members may require a student to take a departmental or intercollegiate faculty examination to supplement or replace a written examination. Each written examination must be completed and reported as satisfactory to the chair of the advisory committee before the oral portion of the examination may be held. In case any written examination is reported unsatisfactory, the entire advisory committee must agree (1) to proceed with the oral portion of the preliminary examination, or (2) to adopt another course of action regarding the unsatisfactory written examination.

Prior to scheduling the preliminary examination with the other committee members, the committee chair will review the eligibility criteria with the student, using the Preliminary Examination Checklist to ensure the student is ready for the examination. The following list of eligibility requirements applies.

  • Student is registered at Texas A&M University for the semester or summer term during which any portion of the preliminary examination may fall. If the entire examination falls between semesters, then the student must be registered for the term immediately preceding the examination.
  • An approved degree plan was on file with the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies at least 90 days prior to the first written examination.
  • Student’s cumulative GPR is at least 3.000.
  • Student’s degree plan GPR is at least 3.000.
  • All English language proficiency requirements have been satisfied.
  • All committee members have scheduled or waived the written portion and agreed to attend the oral portion of the examination or have found a substitute. Only one substitution is allowed and it cannot be for the committee chair.
  • At the end of the semester in which the exam is given, there are no more than 6 hours of coursework remaining on the degree plan (except 681, 684, 690, 691, 5V98, 5V99 ,692 and 791). The head of the student’s department (or Chair of the Intercollegiate Faculty, if applicable) has the authority to approve a waiver of this criterion.
  • The time span from the first written examination to the oral is no more than three weeks. (In cases of department-wide written examinations, this criterion is not applicable.) The head of the student’s department (or chair of the intercollegiate faculty, if applicable) has the authority to approve a waiver of this criterion.

Once all requirements are met, departments or intercollegiate faculty may announce the schedule of the written and oral parts of the examination.

Credit for the preliminary examination is not transferable. If a departmental or intercollegiate faculty examination is used as part of the written portion of the preliminary examination, it must be the last examination offered prior to the date scheduled for the preliminary examination. In the schedule of the written portion, all members of the student’s advisory committee are to be included.

Through the preliminary examination, the student’s advisory committee should satisfy itself that the student has demonstrated the following qualifications:

a. a mastery of the subject matter of all fields in the program;

b. an adequate knowledge of the literature in these fields and an ability to carry out bibliographical research.

In case a student is required to take, as a part of the written portion of a preliminary examination, an examination administered by a department or intercollegiate faculty, the department or intercollegiate faculty must:

a. offer the examination at least once every six months. The departmental or interdisciplinary degree program examination should be announced at least 30 days prior to the scheduled examination date.

b. assume the responsibility for marking the examination satisfactory or unsatisfactory, or otherwise graded, and in the case of unsatisfactory, stating specifically the reasons for such a mark.

c. forward the marked examination to the chair of the student’s advisory committee within one week after the examination.

The chair of the student’s advisory committee is responsible for making all written examinations available to the members of the advisory committee at or before the oral portion of the preliminary examination. A positive vote by all members of the graduate committee with at most one dissension is required to pass a student on his or her preliminary exam. A department or intercollegiate faculty can have a stricter requirement provided there is consistency within all degree programs within a department or an interdisciplinary degree program.

The chair of the advisory committee will promptly report the results of the Preliminary Examination to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, using the Report of Doctoral Preliminary Examination form and the Preliminary Examination checklist. Both forms must have the appropriate signatures. These forms should be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies within 10 working days of the scheduled preliminary examination.

The Report of the Preliminary Examination form must be submitted with original signatures of  the approved committee members. If an approved committee member substitution (1 only) has been made, his/her signature must also be included on the form submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. The original signature of the department head is also required on the form.

After passing the required oral and written preliminary examinations for the doctoral degree, the student must complete the final examination for the degree within four calendar years. Otherwise, the student will be required to repeat the preliminary examination. Upon approval of the student’s advisory committee, with no more than one member dissenting, and approval of the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, a student who has failed the preliminary examination may be given one re-examination. Adequate time must be given to permit the student to address the inadequacies emerging from the first examination (normally six months). The student and the advisory committee should jointly negotiate a mutually acceptable date for this purpose.

A student must be registered at Texas A&M University for a minimum of one semester credit hour in the semester or summer term in which they will take any portion of the Preliminary Examination.

Research Proposal

Thesis-option master’s degrees and all doctoral degrees require a research proposal. The proposal must be approved by the advisory committee and the head of the major department or chair of the intercollegiate faculty, if applicable. This proposal must be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies at least 20 working days prior to the submission of the request for the final examination. All research proposals are routed to the Office of Research Compliance and Biosafety for review and approval by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies prior to final approval. 

Compliance issues must be addressed if a graduate student is performing research involving human subjects, animals, infectious biohazards and recombinant DNA. A student involved in these types of research should check with the Office of Research Compliance and Biosafety at (979) 458-1467 to address questions about all research compliance responsibilities. Additional information can also be obtained on the website http://rcb.tamu.edu.

 Admission to Candidacy

To be admitted to candidacy for a doctoral degree, a student must have:

1.       completed all formal coursework on the degree plan with the exception of any remaining 681, 684, 690 and 691, or 5V98 and 5V99,

2.       a 3.0 Graduate GPA and a Degree Plan GPA of at least 3.0 with no grade lower than C in any course on the degree plan,

3.       passed the preliminary examination (written and oral portions),

4.       submitted an approved dissertation proposal,

5.       met the residence requirements. The final examination will not be authorized for any doctoral student who has not been admitted to candidacy.

Final Examination for Doctoral Students

The candidate for the doctoral degree must pass a final examination by deadline dates announced in the “Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Calendar” each semester or summer term. The doctoral student is allowed only one opportunity to take the final examination. No student may be given a final examination unless his or her current official cumulative and degree plan GPAs are 3.000 or better and he or she has been admitted to candidacy. No unabsolved grades of D, F, or U for any course can be listed on the degree plan. To absolve a deficient grade, a student must repeat the course and achieve a grade of C or better. A student must have completed all coursework on his or her degree plan with the exception of 691, 5V98, or 5V99 (research), 692 (Professional Study) or 791 hours. The student must be registered for all remaining hours; no hours remain to be taken on the degree plan. The preliminary examination results must have been submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies 14 weeks prior to the date of the defense. The research proposal must have been submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies 25 working days prior to the date of the final examination/defense. Any changes to the degree plan must be approved by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies prior to the approval of the final examination. The request to hold and announce the final examination must be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies a minimum of 10 working days in advance of the scheduled date. Examination/Defense results must be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies within 10 working days of the scheduled examination/defense date. The Office of Graduate and Professional Studies must be notified in writing of any cancellations.

The student’s advisory committee will conduct this examination. The final examination is not to be administered until the dissertation or record of study is available in substantially final form to the student’s advisory committee, and all concerned have had adequate time to review the document. Additionally, all English Language Proficiency requirements must be satisfied prior to scheduling the examination. Whereas the final examination may cover the broad field of the candidate’s training, it is presumed that the major portion of the time will be devoted to the dissertation and closely allied topics. Persons other than members of the graduate faculty may, with mutual consent of the candidate and the chair of the advisory committee, be invited to attend a final examination for an advanced degree. A positive vote by all members of the graduate committee with at most one dissension is required to pass a student on his or her exam. A department can have a stricter requirement provided there is consistency within all degree programs within a department. Upon completion of the questioning of the candidate, all visitors must excuse themselves from the proceedings.

The advisory committee will submit its recommendations on the appropriate Report of the Final Examination for Doctoral Candidates form to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies regarding acceptability of the candidate for the doctoral degree. A student must be registered in the University in the semester or summer term in which the final examination is taken.

The Report of the Final Examination Form must be submitted with original signatures of only the committee members approved by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. If an approved committee member substitution (1 only) has been made, his/her signature must be included on the form submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Final Examination for Masters Students

For thesis option students, the final examination covers the thesis and all work taken on the degree plan and at the option of the committee may be written or oral or both. The final examination may not be administered before the thesis is available to all members of the student’s advisory committee in substantially final form, and all members have had adequate time to review the document. The examination is conducted by the student’s advisory committee as finally constituted. A thesis option student must be registered in the University in the semester or summer term in which the final examination is taken. Persons other than members of the graduate faculty may, with mutual consent of the candidate and the major professor, attend final examinations for advanced degrees. Upon completion of the questioning of the candidate, all visitors must excuse themselves from the proceedings. A positive vote by all members of the graduate committee with at most one dissension is required to pass a student on his or her exam. A student shall be given only one opportunity to repeat the final examination for the master of arts degree and that must be within a time period that does not extend beyond the end of the next regular semester (summer terms are excluded). A department can have a stricter requirement provided there is consistency within all degree programs within a department.

A thesis option candidate may petition to be exempt from his/her final examination provided their degree plan GPR is 3.500 or greater and they have approval of the advisory committee, the head of the student’s department and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. It is recommended that the petition for exemption be submitted the same semester the student intends to submit the thesis.

​For non-thesis option students, a final comprehensive examination may be required. The final exam cannot be held prior to the mid point of the semester if questions on the exam are based on courses in which the student is currently enrolled. If a student has completed all required degree plan coursework, the student is not required to be registered for classes in the semester the final examination is administered (unless he/she holds an assistantship). For specific final examination requirements, a student should check the program requirements for the degree which he/she is pursuing.

Thesis, Dissertation and Record of Study

Thesis and Dissertation Services in the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies is responsible for reviewing each thesis, dissertation and record of study to ensure that the format requirements of the University are met. Guidelines and electronic templates for the preparation of the manuscript are available in the Thesis Manual and online at http://ogaps.tamu.edu. All manuscripts must be submitted electronically.

Pre-Defense Publication of Thesis, Dissertation, or Record of Study Material

A graduate student may publish material that subsequently will be used as part of the thesis, dissertation or record of study.

A student should be aware of the copyright agreement that is signed when a journal (hard copy or electronic) accepts an article for publication. At that time, the student generally assigns rights to the journal as publisher. If the student has not retained the right to use the material in the thesis, dissertation, or record of study, he/she must then obtain written permission from the copyright holder to include the material in the manuscript. If such permission is not obtained, or rights have not been retained, the copyrighted material cannot be included in the thesis, dissertation, or record of study.

Use of Classified and Proprietary Information in Thesis, Dissertation, or Record of Study

Committee chairs are cautioned against allowing a student to use classified or proprietary information in electronic theses, dissertations, and records of study (ETDs), because these documents become available to the public upon submission to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. The research conducted at Texas A&M University, as a Texas public institution, is ultimately for the benefit of the public. All ETDs are available on the Internet via the Texas A&M University Libraries. In addition, dissertations are published electronically by ProQuest (UMI) and are available from that source. A temporary embargo, or delay in public release, is possible.

Graduation

A graduate degree is conferred at the close of each regular semester and 10-week summer semester. A candidate for an advanced degree who expects to complete his/her work at the end of a given semester must apply for graduation by submitting the electronic application for degree to the Office of the Registrar and by paying the required graduation fee to Student Business Services no later than the Friday of the fifth week of the fall or spring semester or the Friday of the first week of the second summer term. The electronic application can be accessed via the Howdy portal. A cancellation made after the application deadline will not result in a refund of the diploma fee. Graduate degree candidates who have completed all degree requirements will not be allowed to cancel their graduation application without approval from the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. A student should check the website of the Office of the Registrar at http://graduation.tamu.edu to determine the date and time of his/her graduation ceremony.

Letter of Completion

The Office of Graduate and Professional Studies may issue a letter of completion for an individual student upon written request from the student. The letter of completion certifies that the student has completed all academic requirements for the degree and states the date the degree will be awarded. International students should contact International Student Services prior to requesting a letter of completion to determine how receiving it could affect the student’s visa status.

This letter may be requested anytime from the point the student has completed all requirements for the awarding of the degree and until five days prior to commencement. A student in a master’s thesis option or a doctoral program must have completed all degree requirements, including final clearance from Thesis and Dissertation Services, to be eligible to request this letter. For a student in master’s non-thesis option programs, requests for a letter will be accepted only if the student has completed all degree plan coursework and the final examination results, if applicable, have been approved by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Letter of Intent

Every student completing a graduate degree who wishes to continue to enroll in pursuit of another graduate degree should do so by filing an approved letter of intent with the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. A letter of intent which has been approved by the head of the department (or chair of the intercollegiate faculty) in which the student intends to study will be viewed by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies as an admission to the program specified in the letter. A student must use the letter of intent form which is available on the website at http://ogaps.tamu.edu.

If a break in enrollment occurs for one academic year or longer following graduation, the student must apply for admission to the other graduate degree program through Graduate Admissions before enrolling in the other graduate degree program.

Professional Internship

In those programs in which a professional internship is used (see individual programs), a student will spend an appropriate period of time under the supervision of a practicing professional in industry, business, an educational institution or a government agency. The objectives of the internship are two-fold:

  1. to enable the student to demonstrate the ability to apply technical training and knowledge by making an identifiable contribution in an area of practical concern to the industry or organization in which the internship is served, and
  2. to enable the student to function in a non-academic environment in a position in which he or she will become aware of the organizational approach to problems in addition to those traditional approaches with which the student is familiar.

These may include, but are in no way limited to, problems of management, labor relations, public relations, environmental protection, economics, etc.

Internship agreements should be negotiated between the appropriate organization or industry and the appropriate academic department. The organization of the internship, the internship supervisor and the nature of the internship will be determined by mutual consent of the student, the head of the student’s major department, the student’s advisory committee and the supervising organization prior to the commencement of the internship period. The internship experience should be at a level commensurate with the particular degree objective.

An internship report should be prepared by the student in accordance with guidelines established by the student’s major department, the student’s advisory committee or other appropriate body. The report should be submitted to the advisory committee and to any other organization which may be specified for specific programs. The internship report must be the original work of the student.

An internship, if utilized as part of a student’s degree requirements, should be undertaken near the end of the student’s educational program, after the student has had the opportunity to establish a solid theoretical base for the internship experience.