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Graduate School > Academics > Graduate Degrees > Master's

D E T A I L S   O F   M A S T E R 'S   D E G R E E   I N F O R M A T I O N


Course Requirements

Two plans are offered for the master's degree:

Plan I. Candidates for the master's degree under Plan I must earn a minimum of 24 semester hours of credit in coursework and write a thesis (a minimum of 6 semester hours of thesis research required).

Plan II. Candidates for the master's degree under Plan II must earn a minimum of 30 semester hours of credit.

Both plans require a minimum of 18 semester hours in the major subject. With the approval of the major department, the remainder of the coursework may be done in either the major or a related field.

In some divisions, and in many departments of the University, candidates are required to do their work under Plan I. Candidates working under Plan II may be required to participate successfully in seminar or problem courses that will give them an acquaintance with the methods of research and an appreciation of the place and function of original investigation in the field.

Residency Requirements

A student's program at the master's level must provide sufficient association with the resident faculty to permit individual evaluation of the student's capabilities and achievements.

Transfer of Credit

Courses of full graduate-level credit earned in a regionally accredited institution where a student was enrolled in the graduate school may be submitted for review for inclusion in a degree program. Evaluation of credit for transfer will not be made until the student has enrolled in the Graduate School of The University of Alabama. Acceptance of credit requires the approval of the student's advisory committee and the dean of the Graduate School. Credit will not be accepted for transfer from any institution at which the student failed to achieve a "B" average on all graduate work attempted.

A student initiates in the Office of the Graduate School the request for evaluation of graduate credit obtained at another institution. It is also the student's responsibility to assure that an official transcript of the credit concerned is received by the Graduate School.

With the approval of the student's department and the dean of the Graduate School, 12 hours or 25% of the degree program, whichever is greater, may be transferred from another institution. All credit toward the master's degree, including transfer credit, must have been earned during the six years (18 fall, spring, and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the degree is to be awarded. Some departments have more stringent requirements; students should check with departments to determine their policies.

In some cases, foreign educational credentials may not meet the Graduate School's criteria for transfer of credit. It may be necessary for students in this situation to secure an evaluation of their credentials from World Education Services Inc., an external foreign credential evaluation service. Additional information on their services can be found at their Web site

Time Limit

All requirements for the master's degree must be completed during the six years (18 fall, spring, and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the degree is to be awarded.

Outline of Master's Program

Master's students are encouraged to complete an "Outline of Master's Program" in the first or second semester of enrollment.


A thesis evidencing research capacity, independent thought, and the ability to interpret materials is required of all master's degree candidates who pursue Plan I. The subject chosen must be in the major field and must be approved by the graduate committee of the major department or school and by the head of the student's major department or division.


Article Style vs. Journal Format

Article Syle.  At the doctoral level, "article-style dissertations" are unified works that include several distinct but related studies of research or creative activity, each of which is of publishable quality.  The University does not permit an "article-style thesis" to be presented for a master's degree.


Journal Format.  A "journal-format thesis" is acceptable.  Such a thesis follows the format of a particular journal in which the student and advisor want the thesis to be published.  To prepare  a journal-format thesis, the student uses the journal's "information for authors" or similarly titled guidelines in conjunction with the Graduate School's Student Guide to Preparing Electronic Theses and Dissertations.


A thesis committee must consist of at least three members appointed by the dean of the Graduate School. A form for Appointment or Change of Master's Thesis Committee is used to request that the graduate dean appoint a thesis committee. The request normally is made as soon as the successful defense of the thesis proposal has been completed. All members of a thesis committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty. One member must be from outside the student's major department. If the outside member is not a full or associate member of the UA Graduate Faculty (e.g., a highly qualified person from another university, a business or industry), the graduate dean needs to appoint that member by approving Temporary Graduate Faculty status for the specific purpose of serving on the student's thesis committee. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances meriting approval by the graduate dean before the final oral defense of the thesis, all members of the thesis committee must attend the defense.


The candidate must give members of the examining committee a minimum of two weeks to read the thesis before the date of the final oral examination. A final oral examination is required of all students completing a thesis.  All members of the thesis committee must be members of the UA graduate faculty and must attend the final oral examination unless there are extraordinary circumstances warranting the graduate dean's approval of the absence prior to the defense meeting.


After August 15, 2009, all theses are submitted electronically rather than on paper.  See the graduate school's homepage for a link to information on Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) for details.


Theses must comply with the regulations set out in A Student Guide to Preparing Electronic Theses and Dissertations, available on the Graduate School's website. Approval of the thesis by the graduate dean is necessary before graduation.


The thesis should be completed, if possible, while the student is in residence at the University. To request permission to complete a thesis in absentia, the student must, before leaving the University, submit a satisfactory outline of the thesis, as well as evidence that adequate facilities are available where the work will be done, to the head of the student's major department.

Protection of Human Subjects for Research

Scientific research involving human subjects has produced substantial benefits for society, but it also has posed troubling ethical questions. The mission of the University's Institutional Review Board for Protection of Human Subjects is to ensure that research involving human subjects is conducted ethically. University and federal policies require that review and approval to use human subjects in research precede the research. In the case of thesis research that involves the use of human subjects, the principal investigator is responsible for contacting the college Human Research Review Committee to obtain approval for the planned research.

The request form for IRB approval can be accessed from

Comprehensive Examinations

In addition to the regular course examinations, a final comprehensive examination representing a "culminating" or "capstone" experience for a degree is required of all candidates for the master's degree (except for those candidates pursuing the master of accountancy, the master of business administration, the master of library and information studies, the master of social work, and the master of tax accounting). The comprehensive examination is a culminating experience in which the student is expected to integrate prior learning. Each department, with approval of the Graduate Council, determines the most appropriate format. The various exams may consist of 1) a written and/or oral examination based on the content of the degree program; 2) a thesis and final oral defense; 3) a course requiring interpretation and integration of information from previous courses; 4) a research paper, a "policy and practice" paper, or equivalent experience; 5) a public performance or exhibition along with a contextualizing paper; and/or 6) a practicum or internship.

If the comprehensive exam requirement is met with option 1 and/or 2 (above) then the examining committee for comprehensive examinations must consist of at least three members of the graduate faculty appointed by the dean of the Graduate School. The examination must be given at least six weeks before the date of graduation (two weeks before for Plan II) and reported promptly to the dean of the Graduate School on appropriate forms. A final report, on form available from the Graduate School website should be submitted to the Graduate School when all examinations are completed. A student may take the final oral or written examination only twice.

Application for Graduation

Each candidate for a master's degree must apply for graduation through the Office of the Graduate School no later than the registration period for the semester or the first session of the summer term in which requirements for the degree are to be completed. For more information, please go to the Online Degree Application page.

Second Master's Degree

Six semester hours of eligible credit from one master's degree at The University of Alabama may be applied to the requirements for a second master's degree.


Master's Degree Checklist

(NOTE: Departments may have additional requirements beyond Graduate School requirements)





Transfer graduate credit 1st semester of enrollment in a degree program. Graduate School Office or web site Up to 12 hours or 25% of the required degree requirements, whichever is greater, can be transferred if credit meets conditions stated in the Graduate Catalog. (Some departments have more stringent requirements; students should check with departments to determine their policies.)
Securing graduate credit for 400-level courses Prior to enrolling in course. Graduate School Office or web site Two 400-level courses may be taken for master's degree credit if certain criteria are met. Criteria can be found in the Graduate School Catalog or on the form, Approval of 400-level Coursework for Graduate Credit. Approval must be secured prior to taking the course.
Comprehensive examinations or Capstone Experience Results must be submitted to Graduate School Office at least two weeks prior to end of semester. Contact Graduate School for specific date. Forms available in Graduate School Office or web site A comprehensive exam or Capstone Experience is required of all candidates for a master's degree (with the exception of those programs named in the Master's Degree Section of the Graduate Catalog); examining committees should contain at least three members. May be taken only twice.
Application for degree Submit degree application to the Graduate School Office during the first week of the semester in which degree is to be completed. Graduate School Office or web site This form requires the signature of Department Chair or Graduate Director. Students who apply, but do not graduate, will be charged $10 and must re-file this form.
Thesis committee Should be appointed as soon as student is prepared to begin thesis research. Form available on Graduate School web site Thesis committees must consist of a minimum of three members, with one member from outside of the student's department. Chair of committee must be on graduate faculty; all others must be approved by Dean of the Graduate School if not on graduate faculty.
Thesis Approved thesis should be submitted to Graduate School Office at least six weeks prior to the end of semester in which student will graduate. Contact Graduate School Office for exact date each term. Thesis must be defended and accepted by students' committee before submission to Graduate School. See the Graduate School web site for editorial guidelines, entitled "A Manual for Students Preparing Theses and Dissertations."
Graduation At the conclusion of each semester.   All degree requirements be must completed within six years. See the Graduate Catalog for specific policies concerning grade requirements.

Please contact Beth Yarbrough at, or by phone, 348-5921, with questions related to your degree requirements.

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