Appendix - D: Master’s Programs at Iowa State University

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The number of credits in a major for a master's degree will vary according to the degrees offered. General credit requirements for all master's degrees include:

D.1 Master of Arts or Master of Science—Thesis

At least 30 credits of acceptable graduate work must be completed, not less than 22 of which must be earned from ISU. Students are expected to research and write a thesis that demonstrates independent and creative work. A minimum of 3 semester credits is required for thesis research.

D.2 Master of Arts or Master of Science—Nonthesis

In certain programs a nonthesis degree program is offered. (For more information on requirements, contact the individual program or department.) This option requires the satisfactory completion of at least 30 graduate credit hours of acceptable work (not including research credit), not less than 22 of which must be earned from ISU, and satisfactory completion of a comprehensive final oral examination. In addition, every nonthesis master’s program must present substantial evidence of individual accomplishment (e.g., a special report, capstone course, integrated field experience, annotated bibliography, or other creative endeavor). A minimum of two semester hours of such independent work (referred to as the creative component) is required on every program of study for a nonthesis master’s degree and is applied toward the credit-hour requirement. This element of creative independent study must be explicitly identified on the program of study. Detailed requirements may vary with fields. Reference should be made to the program descriptions in the ISU Catalog.

D.3 Master of Accounting

The Department of Accounting offers a 30 graduate credit Master of Accounting graduate degree. The program requires 15 credits of graduate accounting courses, at least 9 credits of non-accounting graduate electives, a communications course, an international course from an approved list, and an optional creative component. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU. The degree is appropriate for any student wanting to pursue a variety of accounting careers. Additionally, the program is designed to help interested candidates meet the 150-hour education requirement for the CPA certification in Iowa. Graduate students who are not required to take a final oral examination should complete all required coursework on the POS prior to or during the term of graduation.  Any transfer credits must be completed the term before the graduation term and follow normal transfer rules.

D.4 Master of Architecture

The Department of Architecture offers a program leading to the Master of Architecture, a professional degree. The M.ARCH. I (100-credit) option is designed for individuals with an undergraduate degree other than architecture. Students explore a full range of architectural subjects through seminars, and an intensive sequence of design studios. One hundred credits are required, including 40 graduate credits. The M.ARCH. I (60-credit) option is for individuals with a preprofessional undergraduate major in architecture. Applicants are given advanced standing in the M.ARCH. (100) option based on a review of their academic record. Following the completion of the requisite professional courses the student is expected to develop an individualized course of study. Sixty credits are required, including 30 graduate credits.  At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at Iowa State University for either the 60- or 100-credit option.

Since no final oral examination is required in the above professional program and its options, students should complete all coursework on the POS prior to or during the term of graduation.  Any transfer credits must be completed the term before the graduation term and follow normal transfer rules.

The M.ARCH. II (30-graduate credit) option is for students with a B.A. or B.S. in a 4-year degree program in architecture or a M.ARCH. I degree. These students must complete a thesis. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU.

D.5 Master of Arts in Teaching

This is a degree leading to teacher licensure. A range of graduate credits are required depending on the program offering the degree. The student must also demonstrate an ability to perform independent study through the completion of a creative component. At least 22 graduate credit hours must be earned at ISU.

D.6 Master of Business Administration

The College of Business offers a 48 graduate credit-hour program leading to a nonthesis Master of Business Administration degree. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU. Students may select courses in the traditional business disciplines or choose areas of specialization in Accounting, Finance, Information Systems, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management. Graduate students who are not required to take a final oral examination should complete all required coursework on the POS prior to or during the term of graduation. Any transfer credits must be completed the term before the graduation term and follow normal transfer rules.

D.7 Master of Business Analytics

The Master of Business Analytics is a 30-credit, interdisciplinary graduate program that addresses the challenges of dealing with data analytics and business intelligence in the “Big Data” environment. At least 22 credits must be taken at Iowa State University. The Master of Business Analytics is a unique, blended program offering both online and face-to-face education. Students begin the 21 month program in the summer with a one-week, on campus business analytics overview course. Students revisit the campus at the midway point, and at the end of the program. The remainder of the coursework is delivered online. The program draws from several of Iowa State’s leading educational fields in science and technology including Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Statistics, and Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. This interdisciplinary program offers businesses the opportunity to develop managers who will master analytics in ways that lead to increased profits for their company. 

D.8 Master of Community and Regional Planning

The Master of Community and Regional Planning degree requires a minimum of 48 graduate semester credit hours. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU. This degree is available as a thesis or nonthesis option.

Master of Design in Sustainable Environments

Students in the Master of Design in Sustainable Environments will utilize design strategies, systems, and materials for environmental and product design. Students will study ways of envisioning, making and remaking art, landscapes, communities, building, and objects of everyday use that conserve resources, ameliorate ecological problems, and promote social, political, and economic justice. This is a 3-semester, 35 graduate credit course of study that offers opportunities for students to work in interdisciplinary teams on a variety of faculty-directed projects that may include funded basic and applied research, community-based design work, and theoretical investigations. The program addresses issues of sustainable design at multiple scales, engaging both systems and artifacts. At least 22 graduate credits must be taken at ISU. This is a coursework only program of study. 

D.9 Master of Education

For the Master of Education degree, a range of 30 to 40 graduate credits are required. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU. The student demonstrates an ability to perform independent study through the completion of a creative component or a field-based activity.

D.10 Master of Engineering

The academic standards and the general level of attainment are the same for the Master of Engineering and Master of Science degrees. Master of Engineering programs are offered to meet the needs for professionally-oriented programs on campus and for off-campus professionally-oriented programs at locations with adequate library and laboratory facilities. An appropriate number of credit hours in design, laboratory work, computation, or independent study is required as evidence of individual accomplishment. A minimum of 30 graduate credits is required; at least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU.

Graduate students who are not required to take a final oral examination should complete all required coursework on the POS prior to or during the term of graduation. Any transfer credits must be completed the term before the graduation term and follow normal transfer rules.  

Master of Engineering in Engineering Management

The Master of Engineering in Engineering Management will prepare engineers for leadership/management positions within their organizations. This program requires a minimum of 30 graduate credits and is targeted mainly toward distance students.  At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU. This is a coursework only program of study.   

D.11 Master of Family and Consumer Sciences

The College of Family and Consumer Sciences offers two nonthesis options leading to the degree Master of Family and Consumer Sciences. Both options are designed to enhance the skills of those holding the bachelor’s degree so that they may meet the requirements of their present jobs or progress in their careers. The comprehensive option can be followed on or off campus and requires 36 graduate credits covering a variety of family and consumer sciences subject matter. The specialization option requires 36 graduate credits and is offered on campus with the following specializations: Apparel, Merchandising, and Design, Dietetics, Family Financial Planning, Gerontology, Hospitality Management, Human Development and Family Studies, Nutritional Sciences. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU. Both options require a written and oral integrative final exam.

D.12 Master of Finance

The Master of Finance requires a minimum of 40 credits of graduate coursework, with an additional 6 credits of introductory accounting and finance being required if the student lacks previous coursework in accounting and finance. This is a coursework only program with no thesis or creative component required. At least 22 credits must be earned at ISU. The Master of Finance will prepare students for careers in advanced financial data analysis, credit analysis, risk management, and similar specialized areas. The curriculum will also be helpful to those wishing to pursue professional certifications such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designations. These designations are earned by passing a series of exams offered through the CFA Institute and GARP (Global Association of Risk Professionals), respectively.

D.13 Master of Fine Arts

For this degree a minimum of 54-61 graduate credits is required, including the completion of a thesis-exhibition or a thesis. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU.

D.14 Master of Industrial Design

This degree is open to students and professionals from any discipline. However, the difference among the students with various backgrounds will be the number of credits required for graduation. The program is designed to be a 63-credit program for students with industrial design backgrounds (BFA, BID, and BA in industrial design). The program is designed to offer the most relevant mix of skills and experience, including directed research programs, internships, international travel and industry-sponsored coursework. Those who do not have an undergraduate degree or background in industrial design may need to complete additional graduate-level courses to earn the Master of Industrial Design. Specific requirements will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

D.15 Master of Landscape Architecture

The Master of Landscape Architecture degree requires a minimum of 36 graduate credits and the satisfactory completion of a thesis, creative component, or coursework only program. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU.

D.16 Master of School Mathematics

This degree is designed primarily for in-service secondary mathematics teachers. Its prescribed program of study requires 32 graduate credits, two of which come from the writing of an approved creative component, 15 from courses offered for graduate credit, and up to three undergraduate courses. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU.

D.17 Master of Urban Design

The Master in Urban Design program (MUD) is an advanced, interdisciplinary program of study for graduate students with previous degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, and city planning or the equivalent in professional design experience. This is a 3-semester (summer, fall, spring), 36 graduate credit workshop course of study, where students engage directly in a community of inquiry, learning, and practice to examine contemporary challenges facing urbanized regions. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU. This is a coursework only program of study.