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Course Requirements

The Graduate School requirements and specific Department requirements are as follows. Students with a one-half time graduate assistantship must register for between 9-12 credits per semester to maintain fulltime status.

Minimum Graduate Credits

A minimum of 30 graduate credits are required, of which at least 20 credits must be earned at the University Park Campus, and will include the minimum credits specified in the following items. For a student with a one-half time assistantship, approximately two years will be required to complete the M.S. degree.

  1. Major Field, Formal Courses
    Twelve credits of 400- or 500-level formal courses in the major field are required (at least 6 of the 12 credits must be 500-level coursework, excluding seminars and independent studies).

    Coursework for the major field will be chosen to meet the student's primary educational objectives—accomplishment of thesis research, mastery of discipline subject matter, and preparation for a career. Courses in this and other departments may be designated as part of the major field if they conform to these objectives. The strength of the program should be maximized by choosing a related series of courses.

    The student and thesis adviser in consultation with the advisory committee will make the choice of courses in the major field. The thesis advisor will be responsible for the semester-by-semester direction of the student's academic studies.

    Students expecting to continue for the Ph.D. after the M.S. should acquaint themselves with the admission and graduation requirements of the Ph.D. degree. Although certain courses taken at the M.S. level may be applied to the Ph.D. requirements, admission to the Ph.D. program may require preparation in several study areas beyond the minimum necessary for graduation from the M.S. program.  Successful completion of a M.S. degree within the department does not ensure acceptance into a Ph.D. program in the department.
  2. Minor or General Studies Courses
    A minor consists of integrated or articulated work in one field related to, but different from the major field. Other departments and discipline areas of the University govern minor requirements. A faculty member representing the minor will serve on the student's committee. As an alternative to a minor, general studies coursework may be taken in a field or fields different from the major field when considered by the thesis adviser and the advisory committee to have significance and value for the student.

    Six credits of 400 or 500-level formal courses in a minor or general studies area. Seminar or independent studies courses are excluded, except where such courses are specifically allowed by the minor department.
  3. Statistical Methods
    At least three credits at the 500-level with a total of 6 credits in statistics at the graduate level. Courses taken during the M.S. program may be used toward the statistics minor, if approved by the Statistics Department, or the general studies formal course requirement.
  4. Research Integrity and Communications - One course "Research Integrity and Communications." (1 credit) is required in which presentation techniques are learned by the student. There may also be a student presentation experience as part of this course.
  5. SARI - Penn State requires training related to research integrity.  A portion of this training is incorporated into the course "Research Integrity and Communications."
  6. Seminar - In addition, one seminar presentation is required at the departmental graduate seminar near the end of the student's degree.  In extraordinary cases, the student’s adviser, in consultation with the Graduate Program Coordinator, will determine the acceptability of any alternative to this seminar presentation.
  7. Thesis Research
    Six credits of 600 or 610 (thesis research). The student is required to write an original research thesis.
  8. Supplemental Credits
    Credits of 400- or 500-level courses as needed to give a total of 30 that supplement one or more of the areas: thesis, major, minor, and general studies. Credits for independent study courses may also be included.
  9. 500- and 600-Series Work Combined
    At least 18 credits of the total M.S. program must consist of 500 and 600-series.

Additional Courses

Additional courses and requirements as required by the adviser and advisory committee.

Seminar Attendance

The candidate is expected to regularly attend the Departmental Seminar each semester of registration at the University Park Campus.

Teaching Experience

A student holding a half-time assistantship is expected to perform duties that, on average, occupy approximately 20 hours per week and could include service as a teaching assistant in those semesters in which you receive a departmental assistantship. The time required to conduct high-quality research and complete a thesis that makes a significant contribution to the field, as a requirement for your degree, may take considerable additional hours per week, and will depend upon the nature of your dissertation topic.

Final Examination

A final examination based on the student’s thesis and academic training is required.

Summary Checklist

The M.S. requirements are summarized in the check lists ("Checklist for the M.S. Degree" and "Summary of Graduate Coursework for M.S. Degree" forms). It is the responsibility of the student to maintain these checklists, and to have them approved by the Major Adviser and Graduate Program Head prior to graduation.