Chapter 4 - Degree Programs and Requirements

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Over 120 programs offer graduate study at ISU. To pursue a graduate degree at ISU, a student must be accepted by both a program and the University. Depending upon the field of study, students may apply for admission to a program leading to various master’s degrees, or the Ph.D. degree. The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is not considered a graduate degree.

The Graduate College establishes general requirements for the completion of a graduate degree at ISU. Faculty in each graduate program have the responsibility of establishing specific course offerings and research opportunities appropriate to their graduate programs. Individual programs may place additional requirements on graduate students beyond those established by the Graduate College. (Departmental/program procedures for beginning, continuing, or discontinuing programs, majors, and areas of specialization may be obtained from http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php.)

4.1 - Graduate Administrative Components

4.1.1 Department

The department is the basic administrative unit of the academic colleges of the university. Departments report to colleges; colleges report to the Provost. All staff members engaged in teaching, research, and extension hold appointments in at least one department. Department responsibilities to graduate education include faculty appointments, offering of courses, and graduate student support.

4.1.2 Graduate Major

A major is an approved academic area of study leading to a graduate degree. (For a complete listing of graduate majors, see Appendix B.) Each major is offered by a group of qualified faculty who are responsible for the curricula, requirements, and standards that constitute a distinct program of training. The responsible faculty may be administratively located in a single department (departmental major) or may be located in several departments (interdepartmental major). At ISU every graduate student must either be enrolled in a major or be officially accepted as a nondegree seeking student. Opportunities also exist for majoring in more than one area of study (co-major, concurrent major or double degree).

4.1.3 Interdepartmental Majors and Home Departments

Interdepartmental graduate majors and academic departments are in synergistic relationships. The majors gain from these relationships by placing their students in physical settings in which scholarship can thrive. Departments gain talented students who enrich the academic unit in various ways.

  • Interdepartmental students contribute to the academic culture of their home departments by being highly qualified, prepared, and motivated to focus on a research subject through a broad lens.
  • Interdepartmental students who enroll in courses in their home department bolster the student credit hours of the department.
  • Many interdepartmental students co-major in departmental programs to enhance their credential base. In this manner, interdepartmental programs act as a recruiting channel for departmental majors.
  • Interdepartmental students frequently have unique experience and training that enhance their effectiveness as teaching assistants for a home department’s courses.
  • Tuition revenue from interdepartmental students flows to the home department of the student.

Clear terms of relationships between interdepartmental majors and home departments will prevent misunderstandings that might harm students and ultimately restrict the university’s research mission.

Admission

Interdepartmental majors review applicants for admission to those majors based on university-wide and program standards. Cooperating departments do not influence the decision of whether to admit applicants to interdepartmental majors, but the departments do have the choice of whether to serve as the academic home for admissible applicants to interdepartmental majors. A department may elect not to serve as the academic home for reasons such as resource limitations, but declining home department status should not be based on prioritizing students based on major or admission standards. By affiliating with an interdepartmental major, the department agrees to defer to the major for decisions on admissibility. Interdepartmental majors may need to decline admission to a well-qualified applicant who seeks to work with a specific faculty member if that professor’s department will not serve as the student’s home. The choice of a major professor by students who rotate among labs immediately after admission may be based, at least in part, on which potential major professors are able to offer the student a home department.

Home Department Status

Students admitted to an interdepartmental major may begin their programs with confirmed major professors. In such cases, the department of the professor has agreed to be the home department for the new student. For faculty members with joint appointments among departments whose students pay different tuition rates, the faculty member’s primary department must be that faculty members students’ home department. Some students begin a graduate program in an interdepartmental major without a major professor. For example, it is common, for new students to have rotation experiences with multiple faculty members before settling on a major professor and permanent home department. In this case, the DOGE of the interdepartmental major may provide a home as the student completes rotations, or each faculty member hosting a rotation may provide a temporary home for the student. During this interim period, tuition is assessed based on the sole or primary department of the interdepartmental DOGE, and the college of the interdepartmental DOGE awards tuition scholarships to qualified students. The eventual choice of a major professor for st udents who begin a graduate program without one may be based in part on which professors can provide a home department. If a student selects a major professor who holds joint appointments among departments, and if different rates of tuition are charged to students in those departments, the home department must be the primary department of the professor. Students who enter an interdepartmental program without a major professor must seek approval to designate a home department by initiating the form titled “Request to Establish a Home Department for Students Admitted to Interdepartmental Majors,” which is available on the Graduate College website at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php. If a student changes their major professor or a major professor notifies a student that he/she will no longer serve, the interdepartmental major should notify the home department so that the department may determine whether to terminate home department status. The Graduate College must be informed of such actions.

Provisions for Students

Home departments agree to provide space, facilities, and equipment to students in interdepartmental majors in a manner consistent with what is provided to other graduate students in the department. Typically, desk space is provided, and access to copy machines, common office supplies, and shared departmental equipment is offered. Depending on departmental policy, computers, printers, and other personal equipment may also be provided. Although what is provided to interdepartmental students may vary among departments, provisions within departments should not differ based on the major a student is pursuing unless specific funds have been donated for students in certain majors. It can be acceptable for a home department not to provide space and other support to all or some (e.g., those not on an assistantship or fellowship) students if that is the department’s policy regardless of a student’s major. Academic colleges of major professors award tuition scholarships for graduate students in interdepartmental majors.

Requirements of Students

After admission and establishment in a home department, an interdepartmental student is required to meet the academic requirements of his or her major, not those of his or her home department unless those additional requirements are associated with a co-major program of study. Home departments may not impose requirements for coursework, seminars, teaching, internships, etc. beyond those of the major. Any department not wishing to abide by this policy may withdraw its affiliation with an interdepartmental major or may deny requests to serve as the home department for a student in an interdepartmental major. With encouragement from major professors, interdepartmental students should strive to become integrated in the culture of their home department and to build collegial relationships with others from within and outside of their major.

4.1.4 Graduate Minor

Students may request a minor in any program approved to grant a graduate degree and in programs approved to offer only a minor. A student may not minor and major in the same field. In all cases:

  • the student must receive approval from and meet the minimum requirements established by the program offering the minor,
  • a graduate minor must be comprised of graduate or undergraduate courses designated as appropriate by the program offering the minor,
  • the student must have a minor representative on the POS committee,
  • on that committee, the major professor and the representative from the minor field may not be the same person, and
  • a minor must be approved by the POS committee, declared on the POS, and listed on all examination reports and the “Application for Graduation”form in order to be eligible to appear on a student’s transcript after graduation.
  • a minor cannot be added to a degree that has already been received.
    • For a master’s degree: A graduate faculty member from the minor program must serve on the POS committee and the final oral examination must test for the minor.
    • For a Ph.D.: A graduate faculty member from the minor program must serve on the POS committee; the preliminary oral and final oral examinations must test for the minor. A minor cannot be added to a program of study after the preliminary oral examination is taken.

4.1.5 Graduate Area of Specialization

Subdivisions or areas of specialization are defined within some graduate majors. When approved by the Graduate Curriculum and Catalog Committee and declared on a student’s program of study, such areas of specialization are shown parenthetically after the major on official transcripts after graduation. Areas of specialization do not appear on the diploma. (For a complete listing of graduate areas of specialization see Appendix B.)

4.1.6 Graduate Certificates

Students may earn graduate certificates in several departments and programs (for a specific list and other information, see Appendix C). Candidates for a graduate certificate must be recommended for admission to the desired graduate certificate program in the department or program administering the certificate. All courses for a graduate certificate must be acceptable for graduate credit and each graduate certificate must require at least 12 graduate credits. A graduate advisor will be appointed to oversee the certification for each graduate certificate. For departments wishing to establish a certificate program, more information is available in the Curriculum Forms section of the forms page of the Graduate College website.

4.2 - Changes in Graduate Program or Status

4.2.1 Transferring from One Major/Program/Department to Another

Students who have been admitted to a graduate program and to the Graduate College may request to transfer at a later date to another department or program. Because graduate students are admitted to particular programs, transfers require the approval of both the receiving program and the Graduate College. Students seeking transfer to another program or department should first discuss their wishes with the new program DOGE (Director of Graduate Education) to determine requirements and interest by the new program. When a student receives a favorable preliminary response from the new program, he or she should fill out the student portion of the form entitled “Request to Transfer from One Major/Program/Department to Another” and submit this form to his or her current DOGE. The current DOGE will fill out the Current Program Information adding any comments he or she believes the new program should consider and forward the form to the proposed new program. This form is available from the Graduate College website at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php.

The receiving program will generally give the student the same consideration and employ the same admissions standards that are used for original applications for admission and will expect the same application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores,etc.). During this process, the new and old programs and the Graduate College are authorized and encouraged to seek and disclose information related to the student's overall fitness for studies in the receiving program. Programs are authorized to inquire into the student's prior conduct at the university, both with the prior department and with the Dean of Students.

Upon departmental action (acceptance or denial), the request to transfer form must be sent to the Graduate College for approval. All parties will receive a copy of the completed form from the Graduate College. Students desiring to transfer from a degree-seeking status to a nondegree-seeking status need to fill out the “Request to Transfer from One Major/Program/Department to Nondegree” form available at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php and bring it to the Graduate College. Students desiring to transfer from nondegree-seeking status to a degree-seeking status must be admitted by a program through the regular graduate admission process.

4.2.2 Curriculum Change from Active Graduate to Active Undergraduate Status

Individuals who are in good standing in the Graduate College and who wish to transfer to an undergraduate curriculum must contact the graduate classification officer (1137 Pearson Hall). The classification officer will consult with the student and determine the proper course of action.

4.2.3 Curriculum Change from Inactive Graduate to Active Undergraduate Status

Individuals who were admitted to the Graduate College more than one year previous and who do not have active graduate status but who wish to change their status from inactive graduate to active undergraduate, must follow the same procedures required of reentering undergraduate students and must begin the process by filing a completed “Undergraduate Reentry” form with the Office of the Registrar. When considering reinstatement, the undergraduate college may consider the student's overall fitness for continued studies including information about the student's conduct, employment and education since the student's last enrollment. Individuals who do not have active graduate status and who first enrolled less than one year  previous should first see the classification officer in the Graduate College.

4.3 - Special Graduate Majors and Degree Programs

4.3.1 Co-Major Degree Program

A co-major is a program of study for a single degree in which the requirements for two separate majors are met. A single degree is granted when the student fulfills the requirements of both majors. The program of study (POS) committee will include co-chairs, each of whom represents one of the co-majors. Both co-chairs must be members of the graduate faculty. The same person, if a faculty member in both majors, will be allowed to serve as major professor for both majors. A preliminary oral examination and research work for the Ph.D. degree should be related to both majors. Students declaring co-majors must satisfy requirements established by each major as monitored by the representatives on the program of study (POS) committee and the DOGEs of the two majors. A co-major cannot be added after the preliminary oral examination has been taken.

4.3.2 Concurrent Degree Programs

Concurrent Master’s Degrees

By special request, students may complete two degree programs that lead to two concurrently awarded master’s degrees by following these requirements:

  • Complete and submit a “Two Concurrent Graduate Degrees” form to the Graduate College (1137 Pearson Hall),
  • File separate “Recommendation of Committee Appointment” and “Program of Study” forms for each degree,
  • File separate “Application for Graduation” forms for each degree,
  • Complete separate projects or theses for each degree,
  • File separate “Request for Final Oral Examination” forms for each degree, and
  • Pass separate final oral examinations and complete a separate “Graduate Student Approval Form” for each degree.

Two awarded master’s degrees require at least 22 hours of non-overlapping graduate credit in each major and two terminal projects (theses or creative components). These two degrees do not have to be awarded during the same term, since requirements for each are completed separately. Graduate Students in Concurrent Undergraduate Programs Graduate students interested in enrolling in a concurrent undergraduate program should contact the Office of Admissions (100 Enrollment Services Center) to obtain admission information (even if previously admitted as an undergraduate). An “Application for a Graduate Student Wishing to Pursue a Concurrent Undergraduate Degree” form can be obtained from the Graduate College website at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php and circulated for the appropriate signatures. The process is detailed below:

  • Complete the undergraduate application process. Applications are available at http://www.admissions.iastate.edu.
  • The student must be formally admitted both as a graduate student and as an undergraduate student.
  • Official enrollment and fee payment will be as a graduate student.
  • Credits transferred from the graduate permanent record to the undergraduate permanent record are no longer available for use on a graduate program of study.
  • Students in concurrent degree programs may, subject to Program of Study committee approval, double count up to 6 ISU credits for both a bachelor’s degree and a certificate or master’s degree.

ISU Undergraduate Students in Concurrent Graduate Certificate or Graduate Degree Programs

Several programs provide opportunities for well qualified ISU juniors and seniors majoring in those curricula to apply for admission to both a bachelor’s and graduate certificate or master’sdegree programs. The minimum requirements for admission to the concurrent program are generally the same as those required for full admission to the Graduate College. (Also, since these students have not received their undergraduate degrees, they must be making good progress toward a bachelor’s degree.) An “Application for an ISU Undergraduate Student Wishing to Pursue a Concurrent Graduate Certificate or Graduate Degree” form can be obtained from the Graduate College website at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php and circulated for the appropriate signatures. Other requirements include:

  • Official enrollment and fee payment will be as a graduate student.
  • The graduate degree or graduate certificate will be awarded only at the same time as, or after, the undergraduate degree is conferred.
  • Students interested in a research career may be able to apply for graduate research assistantships while in a concurrent degree or graduate certificate program.
  • Students in concurrent degree programs may, subject to Program of Study committee approval, double count up to 6 ISU credits for both a bachelor’s degree and a certificate or master’s degree.
  • For students pursuing a concurrent undergraduate bachelor’s degree and graduate certificate, at least 12 graduate credits cannot be double counted and a maximum of 6 graduate credits can be double counted for both the bachelor’s degree and the graduate certificate (when the graduate certificate requires more than 12 credits).
  • A student in a bachelor's and master's concurrent degree program cannot be on a Ph.D. track during the concurrent program.

Concurrent Bachelor's/Professional Degrees with a Graduate Certificate or Master's Program

Bachelor’s Degree Bachelor’s Major Certificate/ Master’s Degree Certificate/ Master’s Major

B.S.

Accounting

M.ACC.

Accounting

B.S.

Aerospace Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Aerospace Engineering

M.E.N.

Aerospace Engineering

B.S.

Aerospace Engineering

M.E.N.

Engineering Mechanics

B.S.

Aerospace Engineering

M.S.

Aerospace Engineering

B.S.

Aerospace Engineering

M.S.

Engineering Mechanics

B.S.

Agricultural Biochemistry

M.S.

Biochemistry

B.S.

Agricultural Engineering

M.S.

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

B.S.

Agricultural Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Agricultural Systems Technology

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Agricultural Systems Technology

M.S.

Industrial and Agricultural Technology

B.S.

Agronomy

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Animal Science

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Animal Science

M.S.

Animal Breeding and Genetics

B.S.

Animal Science

M.S.

Nutritional Sciences

B.S.

Animal Science

M.S.

Meat Science

B.S.

Animal Science

M.S.

Animal Physiology

B.S.

Animal Science

M.S.

Animal Science

B.S.

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

M.S.

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

B.S.

Biochemistry

M.S.

Biochemistry

B.S.

Biological Systems Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Biological Systems Engineering

M.S.

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

B.S.

Biophysics

M.S.

Biophysics

B.S.

Chemical Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Chemical Engineering

M.ENG.         

Chemical Engineering

B.A./B.S.

Chemistry

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Chemistry

M.S.

Analytical Chemistry

B.S.

Chemistry

M.S.

Chemistry

B.S.

Chemistry

M.S.

Inorganic Chemistry

B.S.

Chemistry

M.S.

Organic Chemistry

B.S.

Chemistry

M.S.

Physical Chemistry

B.S.

Civil Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Civil Engineering

M.S.

Civil Engineering

B.S.

Computer Engineering

Graduate Certificate

Information Assurance

B.S.

Computer Engineering

M.S. /M.ENG.

Computer Engineering

B.S.

Computer Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Computer Science

M.S.

Computer Science

B.S.

Computer Science

M.B.A.

Master of Business Administration

B.S.

Electrical Engineering

M.S. /M.ENG.

Electrical Engineering

B.S.

Electrical Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Event Management

M.S.

Hospitality Management

B.S.

Family Finance, Housing, and Policy

Graduate Certificate

Family Financial Planning

B.S.

Family Finance, Housing, and Policy

M.S.

Human Development and Family Studies

B.S.

Food Science

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Food Science

M.S.

Food Science and Technology

B.S.

Hospitality Management

M.S.

Hospitality Management

B.S.

Industrial Engineering

M.S./M.ENG.

Industrial Engineering

B.S.

Industrial Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Industrial Technology

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Industrial Technology

M.S.

Industrial and Agricultural Technology

B.F.A.

Interior Design

M.A.

Interior Design

B.S.

Materials Engineering

M.S.

Materials Science and Engineering

B.S.

Mechanical Engineering

M.B.A.

Business Administration

B.S.

Mechanical Engineering

M.S.

Mechanical Engineering

B.S.

Nutritional Science

M.S.

Nutritional Sciences

B.S.

Psychology

M.S.

Psychology

B.S.

Software Engineering

M.S.

Computer Science

B.S.

Software Engineering

M.B.A.

Master of Business Administration

D.V.M.

Veterinary Medicine

M.B.A.

Business Administration

Concurrent Application Process 

Interested students must adhere to the following process:

  • Complete the “Concurrent Enrollment for Undergraduate Student Wishing to Pursue a Graduate Certificate or Degree” form on the Graduate College website.
  • Take the form to the interested graduate program along with three letters of recommendation, and any other application materials required by the program, as listed on the Program’s Admissions Requirement page at here.
  • After the program has made an admissions decision and signed the form, it must be taken in order to the other areas (the program DOGE, undergraduate department, undergraduate college, and Graduate College).
  • The Graduate College will make the final decision if the student is admissible and notify all parties including the Office of Admissions on the outcome of its evaluation.

Individual Concurrent Program Admission

Undergraduate students seeking admission to concurrent graduate certificates and/or graduate degree programs in fields other than those listed in the table must:

  • submit a detailed written proposal for an individualized program, co-signed by their advisers, to the Graduate College for review and approval.
  • complete the concurrent application process above.

The graduate certificate or degree will only be awarded at the same time as, or after, the undergraduate degree is conferred.

Transferring Concurrent Credits 

Students must adhere to the requirements below:

  • After each concurrent term, the student must initiate a memo or a form called “Transfer of Courses for Concurrent B.S./Graduate,” which lists all courses to be transferred to the undergraduate permanent record (transcript). If a student does not have a B.S. or B.A. degree, a graduate degree is not granted until the bachelor’s degree is awarded.
  • This form must be approved by the undergraduate adviser, the undergraduate college dean, and the Dean of the Graduate College (in that order).
  • If requested, credits will be transferred from the graduate permanent record to the undergraduate permanent record after each term, or the credits will be transferred from the graduate permanent record to the undergraduate permanent record after the term in which the first degree is earned. In either case, the “Transfer of Courses for Concurrent B.S./Graduate” form must be submitted to the Graduate College. The courses and grades will also appear on the graduate permanent record but will not be included in the graduate grade point average.
  • Only students in concurrent degree programs may apply, subject to Program of Study committee approval, up to 6 ISU credits used to fulfill the requirements for a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree program of study. These double-counted courses must be clearly marked on the “Transfer of Courses for Concurrent B.S./Graduate” form. Students may only double count those graduate courses while they are a concurrent student.
  • For students pursuing a concurrent undergraduate bachelor’s degree and graduate certificate, at least 12 graduate credits cannot be double counted and a maximum of 6 graduate credits can be double counted for both the bachelor’s degree and the graduate certificate (when the graduate certificate requires more than 12 credits).
  • Credits in addition to the 6 credits transferred from the graduate permanent record to the undergraduate permanent record are no longer available for use on the graduate program of study.

The credits transferred from the graduate permanent record to the undergraduate permanent record are no longer available for use on the graduate program of study.

Veterinary Medicine Students in Concurrent Graduate Degree Programs 

Students may be concurrently enrolled in the professional curriculum leading to the D.V.M. degree and in a graduate program leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree after completion of 90 undergraduate semester credits. The graduate program may be in the College of Veterinary Medicine or in another college. Interested students must adhere to the following process:

Signed approvals are required from the graduate program, the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Dean of the Graduate College. On admittance, the student receives an admission notification from the Office of Admissions.

When a student takes any courses in the professional veterinary curriculum, registration is as a veterinary student, and tuition and fees are assessed according to that status. When only graduate courses are taken (e.g., during summer session), the student should complete a “Change of Curriculum” form in the Graduate College to change to graduate student status with tuition assessed on that basis.

Students are subject to normal rules and procedures of both colleges. Graduate credit is available only for courses identified in the Iowa State University Catalog as carrying graduate credit. Students may use graduate courses, where applicable, to meet requirements for the professional curriculum, provided they have been approved for that purpose by the college curriculum committee.

If a student does not hold a B.S. or B.A. degree, a graduate degree is not granted until all requirements for the D.V.M. degree are completed. After the concurrent status has been approved, there is no limit on the number of credits that may be earned toward the graduate degree before receiving the D.V.M. degree. A student may pursue graduate studies during summer and vacation periods and may elect to postpone the fourth year of the professional curriculum for one year to pursue graduate studies and research. This option may be declared during the second or third year of the professional curriculum, but no later than the first day of the spring semester of the third year of the professional curriculum. Approval by the student’s POS committee and the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine is also required.

Transferring Concurrent Course Credits 

To transfer credits in a concurrent program, follow the requirements below:

  • If the veterinary medicine degree is earned first, the student must initiate a memo or a form called “Transfer of Courses for Concurrent B.S./VM/Graduate” (available on the Graduate College website at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php) immediately following the term in which the degree is completed, listing the course(s) (including the term and year taken) and grades to be transferred to the graduate permanent record (transcript).
  • This form must be approved by the associate deans in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the graduate department or program, and the Graduate College (in that order).
  • If requested, credits will be transferred from the veterinary medicine permanent record to the graduate permanent record after each term, or the credits will be transferred from the veterinary medicine permanent record to the graduate record after the term in which the graduate degree is earned. In either case, the “Transfer of Courses for Concurrent VM/Graduate” form must be submitted to the Graduate College. The courses and grades will also appear on the veterinary medicine permanent record.

If the graduate degree is earned first and the student wishes to transfer credits from the graduate permanent record to the veterinary medicine permanent record, he/she must initiate a memo or form listing the courses, terms taken, and grades. The same procedure and signature process as outlined above for a transfer from veterinary medicine permanent record to the graduate permanent record must be followed. Credits transferred from the graduate permanent record to the veterinary permanent record are no longer available for use on a graduate program of study.

Concurrent Ph.D. Degrees

Sometimes a student in a Ph.D. program wishes to add a concurrent master’s degree program.  If that is the case, the following requirements must be followed:

  • Complete and submit a “Concurrent Graduate Degrees” form to the Graduate College (1137 Pearson Hall),
  • On that form, the Ph.D. major professor must also approve the request.
  • File separate “Committee Appointment Form and “Program of Study (POS)” forms for each degree.
  • File separate “Application for Graduation” forms for each degree.
  • Complete separate projects or theses for each degree.
  • File separate “Online Preliminary or Final Oral Exam Request” forms for each degree.
  • Pass separate final oral examinations and complete a separate “Graduate Student Approval Form” for each degree.

A concurrently awarded Ph.D. and master’s degree have no non-overlapping graduate credit requirements, since a Ph.D. degree can use the credits from a master’s degree on the Ph.D. program of study. Two separate projects (thesis or creative component and dissertation) are required. The two degrees do not have to be awarded during the same term, since requirements for each are completed separately.

4.3.3 Double Degree Programs

A double degree requires fulfillment of the requirements for two graduate majors for which two differently named master’s degrees and two diplomas are granted at the same time. For double degrees, the final project (thesis or creative component) must integrate subject areas from both departments.

Several named double degree combinations are currently available at ISU:

  • Master of Architecture/Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Architecture/Master of Community and Regional Planning
  • Master of Architecture/ Master of Design in Sustainable Environments.    MAR/MDS
  • Master of Architecture/Master of Urban Design.  MAR/MUD
  • Master of Community and Regional Planning/ Master of Design in Sustainable Environments.   MCP/MDS 
  • Master of Community and Regional Planning/Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Community and Regional Planning/Master of Urban Design MCP/MUD
  • Master of Finance/Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Fine Arts in Integrated Visual Arts/ Master of Design in Sustainable Environments MFA/MDS
  • Master of Landscape Architecture/Master of Community and Regional Planning
  • Master of Landscape Architecture/ Master of Design in Sustainable Environments.  MLA/MDS
  • Master of Landscape Architecture/ Master of Urban Design.  MLA/MUD
  • Master of Science in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design/Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Economics/Master of Finance
  • Master of Science in Information Systems/Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Statistics/Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Sustainable Agriculture/Master of Community and Regional Planning

If a student outside one of the named areas is interested in an individually developed double degree program, a written proposal for a double degree to serve those interests and needs must be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate College for review. The requirements for all students who are interested in pursuing double degree program are listed below.

  • The interested student must obtain the “Graduate Double Degree Program” form and submit it to the Dean of the Graduate College for approval.
  • Only oneCommittee Appointment Form” form and oneProgram of Study (POS)” form need to be submitted for the two degrees.
  • On the “Recommendation for Committee Appointment” form, double degrees must be clearly noted in the “Comments” section. Where the student is asked to check the degree sought, “double degrees” should be typed and the two that apply should be checked.
  • Like other master’s programs, three graduate faculty members can constitute a POS committee; however, POS committees for double degrees must include co-major professors from each of the majors.
  • In the “Degree Sought” section of the POS form, both degrees should be typed in the space provided.
  • Although specific degree programs may require more, the program of study must include at least 44 hours of non-overlapping graduate credit (22 for each major) in the two degrees.
  • The total number of credits for each degree should be clearly shown and should coincide with the number of credits required by the programs for their respective degree programs.
  • An “Application for Graduation” form will need to be submitted for each degree.
  • One final oral examination must be held covering the combined thesis or creative component.
  • One Graduate Student Approval Form for Graduation signed by the DOGE from both programs.
  • All forms should show clearly that the student is enrolled in a double degree program.

4.3.4 Combined Degree Program at Iowa State University/Drake University Law School

To provide training in the complementary fields of law and political science with a minimum amount of academic duplication, special arrangements for a combined degree program have been approved with the Drake University Law School. ISU and Drake offer a combined
J.D./M.A. in political science. Drake Law School students are permitted to transfer the equivalent of nine semester credits of specified law courses to ISU for credit for the political science program. Because of the difference in grading systems, the Law School grades are transferred as passes, provided the student has achieved a grade of C or better in those courses at Drake. Applicants for the combined program must meet the regular entrance requirements of, and be admitted to, both the Drake Law School and the ISU Graduate College.

4.4 - Graduate Degree Requirements

4.4.1 Credits Required for Graduate Degrees

The academic value of each course is stated in semester credits. Each credit is normally earned by attending one 50-minute lecture or recitation per week for the entire semester, or by attending a laboratory or studio session for two or three hours per week. For more specific information on credits see the chapter titled “Courses, Credits, and Grading.”

Master’s Degrees

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

  • a minimum of 30 graduate credits is required for all master’s programs at ISU,
  • at least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU (specific master's programs may require more; see descriptions in Appendix D).
  • for the specialization that is considered essential for an advanced degree, approximately two-thirds of the work should be devoted to the major field, but this is not necessarily restricted to one program,
  • any transfer of graduate credits from another institution must be recommended in the program of study by the POS committee, and
  • graduate credit earned as a graduate student will be approved for transfer only if a B grade or better was earned.
  • two master's degrees require 22 non-overlapping graduate credits.

Doctor of Philosophy

A minimum of 72 graduate credits must be earned for a Ph.D.

  • At least 36 graduate credits, including all dissertation research, must be at ISU.
  • There is no specific university requirement regarding the number of credits to be taken inside or outside the major/program.
  • Two Ph.D. degrees require 36 non-overlapping graduate credits.

4.4.2 Examinations

The graduate student must complete certain prescribed examinations, some of which are required by the program and others by the Graduate College.

Diagnostic Examination

A program may require a diagnostic examination of a graduate student before arrival at ISU or shortly after arrival on campus. Diagnostic examinations help the program assess the quality and breadth of a student’s preparation.

English Examination

To ensure competence in written English, graduate students whose native language is not English and who did not graduate from a US institution must take English exams. In addition, nonnative speakers of English who will have teaching responsibilities are required to take the Oral English Certification Test (OECT) (see Graduate English Requirements for Nonnative Speakers of English).

Qualifying Examination

If the field of study requires mastery of a certain core curriculum, the program may administer qualifying examinations to ascertain that core material has been mastered. A student who fails a qualifying examination is normally allowed an opportunity to retake it after a specified period of time.

Preliminary Oral Examination

The Graduate College requires a preliminary oral examination of Ph.D. degree students; most programs add a written portion to the preliminary oral examination. The Ph.D. degree preliminary oral examination rigorously tests a graduate student’s knowledge of major, minor, and supporting subject areas as well as the student’s ability to analyze, organize, and present subject matter relevant to the field. A “Request for Preliminary Oral Examination” form must be submitted to the Graduate College by the major professor at least two weeks before the proposed date of the examination.

The following conditions must be met before the “Request for Preliminary Oral Examination” form is submitted to the Graduate College:

  • admitted to full admission status in a Ph.D. granting program,
  • Committee Appointment form approved no later than the semester before the preliminary oral examination,
  • POS form approved no later than the semester before the preliminary oral examination,
  • English requirement met,
  • not on probation,
  • time limit not exceeded (see Chapter 4),
  • qualifying examination (if required by program) passed, and
  • registration for a minimum of one credit, or for Examination Only (GR ST 681B) if no course work is needed, during the term in which the preliminary oral examination is taken

A preliminary oral examination will not be scheduled for a student on provisional or restricted admission or on academic probation. Upon successful completion of the preliminary oral examination, the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. If the graduate student fails all or part of the preliminary oral examination, he/she may be allowed to retake it. Six months must elapse between the first attempt and the next.

The entire POS committee must be convened for the preliminary oral examination. Any request to change the makeup of the committee needs to be submitted in writing on the “Request to Change Committee Appointment” form to the Graduate College and approved by the Dean of the Graduate College before the preliminary oral examination is held. The request must be signed by the student, all committee members involved in the change, and the DOGE.

In some cases, it may only be possible to convene the committee in a timely manner if one of the committee members participates at a distance. This is permitted if the distance participation is agreeable to all committee members, if the mode of communication permits the full participation of the committee member at a distance, and if the Graduate College is notified in advance by submitting the form “Preliminary or Final Oral Examination with Committee Member at a Distance”, which is available at the Graduate College’s website.  The preferred method of distance participation is video conferencing, but speaker phone is acceptable in cases where visual presentation is not critical. The distant committee member must participate for the entire examination.

The preliminary oral examination must be passed at least six months prior to the final oral examination. In rare circumstances, an exception to the rule is allowed if a written request with extenuating circumstances signed by the major professor(s) and the program’s DOGE is approved by the Dean of the Graduate College.

Reporting Ph.D. Preliminary Oral Examination Results

Immediately following the preliminary oral examination it is the responsibility of the POS committee to decide whether the student will be recommended for admission to candidacy and may continue to work toward the Ph.D. degree. All POS committee members must be present at the preliminary oral and sign the report form. Four options exist:

  • The student passes and the POS committee recommends to the Graduate College that the student be admitted to candidacy.
  • The student may continue his or her studies, but must meet other conditions specified by the POS committee on the “Report of Preliminary Oral Examination” form under “Conditional Pass” before being recommended for admission to candidacy.
  • The student fails, but is given an opportunity to repeat the examination six months after the first attempt. An explanatory letter must accompany the report form.
  • The student fails and is not permitted to continue to work toward a Ph.D. at ISU. An explanatory letter must accompany the report form.

In a preliminary oral examination, if one member of the committee votes not to pass the candidate, the student passes, but each member of the committee must forward to the Dean of the Graduate College in writing a justification for his/her vote. Upon request these letters will be made available to the committee at the time of the final oral examination. If more than one member of the committee votes not to pass the student, the candidate does not pass the examination. An explanatory letter must accompany the report form.

Final Oral Examination

Most master’s and all Ph.D. degree candidates must pass final oral examinations. For detailed information, see “Finishing Up.”

4.4.3 Graduate English Requirements for Nonnative Speakers of English

Graduate students whose native language is not English and who do not have a bachelor’s or advanced degree from ISU or a US institution or do not meet the TOEFL or IELTS exemption score range must take the English Placement Test at the beginning of their first semester of enrollment. This test is administered by the Department of English. It must be taken in addition to TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), which is taken as part of the admissions process. A student who does not pass this examination is assigned to one or more courses in the English 99 and 101 series. This course work must be completed during the first year of study, and registration holds are placed if the student does not register for these during the first year of study. (There is a developmental course fee for the English 99 course.)

Non-native English speaking ISU graduate students who meet or exceed the TOEFL or IELTS scores below are exempted from taking the English Placement Test. Self-enrollment in English 099 or 101 courses remains possible.

  • Paper-based TOEFL (PBT)--640 (and above)
  • Internet-based TOEFL (iBT)--105 (and above)
  • IELTS--8.0 (and above)

A graduate student whose native language is not English but did graduate from a U.S. institution, may bring to the Graduate College the “Graduate English Requirement Approval” form, available on the Graduate College’s website at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php. Two conditions must be met:

  • the student must have received a bachelor, master, or Ph.D. degree from a U.S. college or university and
  • the language of instruction at that college or university must have been in English.

Testing of Nonnative English Speaking Students Who Teach

The Oral English Certification Test (OECT) is required of graduate students who fit both of these categories:

  • those who are not native speakers of American English (i.e., learned another language first), and
  • they are to be appointed to or considered for teaching assistantships or will have some teaching responsibilities even if they are not teaching assistants (TAs).

The Oral English Certification Test (OECT) is given before the beginning of fall and spring semesters. Department offices have a schedule of OECT testing dates, or browse the International Teaching Assistants Program website at http://itas.grad-college.iastate.edu/ . Registration for the test is held online through the program’s website 2-3 weeks before the testing dates. ITAs and faculty with questions about OECT should call 515-294-1958 or 515-294-7996.

A prospective teaching assistant who does not pass these tests is required to successfully complete course work and be retested. English 180 is a series of communication courses designed to help new teaching assistants. Students focus upon pronunciation, listening, question-handling, teaching and lecturing skills, and analyze the culture of U.S. university life. Because enrollment is restricted, TAs cannot register for the courses online through AccessPlus. TAs must go to the International Teaching Assistants Program Office, 1137 Pearson, immediately upon receiving the OECT scores to obtain permission to enter the course by completing a course add slip.

4.4.4 Residency Requirements

No campus residency requirement exists for the master’s degree, but campus residency is desirable for the Ph.D. degree. Of the 72 graduate credits required for a Ph.D., at least 36 credits, including all dissertation research credits, must be earned from Iowa State University under the supervision of the student’s POS committee. Programs may establish their own residency requirements.

4.4.5 Time-to-Degree Limit

The Graduate College’s time-to-degree limit for all graduate students, both master's and Ph.D., is seven years. Graduate programs may establish more restrictive time-to-degree limits. For example, at the program’s discretion, a student beginning a Ph.D. degree program at ISU with a master’s degree could be expected to complete the program within three or four or five years, while a student beginning a Ph.D. degree program without the master’s degree could be expected to complete the program within five or six or seven years. This is an option that would be enforced at the department level. Requests to extend the seven-year time limit will only be considered in the event of rare circumstances involving medical or other extenuating situations. • Cases in which the student leaves ISU during his or her graduate career and later returns are dealt with individually by the POS committee and the Graduate College. The inclusion in the program of study of course work that is beyond the time limit (“over-age” courses) must be justified by the POS committee in a statement accompanying the submission of the program of study.

Cases in which the student leaves ISU during his or her graduate career and later returns are dealt with individually by the POS committee and the Graduate College. The inclusion in the program of study of course work that is beyond the time limit (“over-age” courses) must be justified by the POS committee in a statement accompanying the submission of the program of study.