Master’s Student Timeline

In addition to your academic coursework, you are responsible for completing the following tasks to qualify for degree conferral:

Year 1

August-September: Master’s Student Matching Process

Deadlines will be announced by graduate program coordinator.

New master’s students will learn about research opportunities from faculty and current students and will identify up to three labs they would consider joining. Based on faculty interest/availability, students will be paired with mentors by the start of the fall semester.

By October 31: Research Topic and Thesis Committee Selection

The Committee should be set up by the student and the adviser, and should include at least two faculty members. These include the thesis adviser, at least one additional member of the department faculty, and at least one faculty member from another department.

By January 31: First Committee Meeting Presentation

The presentation should include: Background, Hypothesis, Specific Aims, Significance, Experimental Protocol and Techniques, and Timeline for Progress. Specific objectives should be realistic and should be aimed at finishing the thesis project and graduating within two years of entry into the program.

June-July: Certification of Full-Time Status

Apply for full-time status if you are taking less than 12 research credits per semester for the duration of your program. Check with the graduate program coordinator if this applies to you.

June-July: Annual Review Process

Students and mentors will complete thorough reviews of the student’s academic and research performance to date, followed by an optional student meeting with the director of graduate studies. Students must update their CV and IDP prior to submitting their review form.

Year 2

September: Master’s Research Progress Presentations

BS/MS and MS students present their research work to the entire department. This is a great way to gain presentation experience as well as to get constructive feedback from colleagues and faculty. The event is free and open to the public.

June-July: Thesis Defense/Degree Conferral

With very rare exceptions, the majority of our master’s students receive their degrees with a September conferral.

The student must make sure that the director of graduate studies or the chair is able to attend the defense; if neither can attend on a suggested date, the defense must be rescheduled. The thesis committee must also all be in attendance. 

Students must provide the title of the thesis defense seminar along with the date for defense to graduate program coordinator. Thesis document must be submitted to the graduate program coordinator at least one week before defense. The thesis defense (a public seminar) must be completed by July 31.

Note to International Students

International Students planning to graduate September 1 must ensure they are enrolled during the summer term in order to be eligible for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training. OPT is an F-1 student benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  It allows you to work off-campus in a job related to your major.  It is meant to supplement your academic experience with practical experience.