Degree Requirements

LGS Handbook

Our Handbook is the authoritative statement of policies and requirements.

LGS Handbook

The Laney Graduate School confers research degrees, which indicate that the holder of the degree has the expertise, creativity, and courage to contribute to the body of knowledge in his or her field. This capacity must be demonstrated not simply by completing some sequence of courses and examinations, but also by completing a scholarly work, either at the master's or at the doctoral level.

Before this demonstration, students do complete a set of requirements -- courses, exams, etc. Summaries of those requirements are listed below.

These Laney Graduate School degree requirements are minimum requirements, and programs may add their own requirements. These are available on program websites or from program Directors of Graduate Studies.

In addition to the requirements below, students who have a first language other than English may be required to take English Language Support Program courses. Please visit our ELSP webpages for information about language proficiency assessments and requirements.

Scroll down or click here for Master's degree requirements, and Graduate Certificate requirements.

PhD Requirements

The program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree provides training for a career of creative scholarship. The highest scholastic degree is awarded only to the student who has demonstrated capability of productive scholarship and who gives promise of qualifying as an authority in a chosen field.

These are the particular steps each doctoral student must take:

  1. Three years of full time coursework. Some coursework may consist of independent research or laboratory rotations under the direction of a faculty member. Students who have done significant graduate work before they enter the Graduate School can sometimes complete their coursework in two years.
  2. All PhD students must complete the Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity (TATTO) program, which prepares students to be competent and confident teachers. The program involves a pedagogy workshop, a course on teaching in the students’ field, and two teaching assignments with increasing responsibility and independence.
  3. Many programs require foreign languages or other research skills, such as computer technology and statistics.
  4. General doctoral examinations determine the student’s qualifications for advanced study and mastery of the field of specialization. They are generally given during or immediately after the third year of study, but each individual program or division determines the schedule for the general doctoral examinations.
  5. As a fundamental requirement for the PhD degree, a student must present a dissertation that makes an actual contribution to existing knowledge or is a fresh and significant critical interpretation of existing knowledge. It serves as the most important, concrete proof of the candidate’s scholarly abilities.  Most programs require a final oral examination or defense of the dissertation. Students should consult program regulations and advisers about program-specific requirements.

NOTE: A new requirement in ethics and scholarly integrity was approved by the Executive Council in November 2011. The requirement will apply to doctoral students in the natural sciences who enter in Fall 2012 and later and to doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences who enter in Fall 2013 and later. Learn more here.

Master’s Degree Requirements

Programs that offer terminal master's degrees are lsited on our degree programs page.  Some, but not all, PhD programs allow students to earn a master’s degree on the basis of admission to candidacy. 

Some programs, especially those offering terminal master’s degrees, require considerably more course work than the minimum listed below, and many have substituted other requirements for the examination, foreign language and thesis. Consult the website or the Director of Graduate Studies in the program you are interested in. 

These are the particular steps each master's student must take:

  1. Two years of coursework. No undergraduate courses may count towards this requirement.
  2. Many programs require foreign languages or other research skills, such as computer technology and statistics.
  3. The fulfillment of course work alone does not lead to a master’s degree: the student must submit an acceptable thesis demonstrating an ability to use the methods of advanced investigation or research. The nature of the thesis, as well as its form, varies among the different fields. 

Students must be registered in the semester in which they receive the degree, and must complete all requirements for a terminal master’s degree within five years of admission.

Graduate Certificate Requirements

Graduate certificate programs provide graduate students with interdisciplinary expertise.  They are intended to enhance student education and research, and to expand students’ teaching competencies.  A list of currently offered gradaute certificates are on our degree programs page.

Students interested in a Graduate Certificate must apply to the Certificate Program Director. Certificate programs may have eligibility criteria; check with the Director of the specific certificate programs for details.

Certificate programs require at least 16 credits of coursework at the 500 to 700 level.  Certificates must have some requirements, in addition to the minimum credit hours, that make the course of study systematic and cohesive.  This may take the form of required core courses, exam, project, or practicum.

Students may enroll in more than one certificate program, but no more than 4 credits may be counted toward two certificates.  Because certificates are intended to enhance interdisciplinary education, no more than 4 credits from a student’s home program may be counted toward any one certificate.  Transfer credits may not be applied toward certificate requirements.