Graduate Division

Requirements for Candidates for Master's Degrees

Advising and Guidance from the Graduate Committee

At the beginning of a student’s work toward the master’s degree, the chair of the student’s graduate program, in consultation with the student, designates a primary academic advisor. The primary academic advisor may be the chair of the graduate program or another faculty member. This advisor also may serve as chair of the student’s graduate committee. The graduate committee, when required by the program, will consist of a minimum of three members who meet periodically with the student to discuss his or her progress.

Time to Completion of the Master’s Degree

Time to completion is typically two-three years with full time enrollment after official admittance into the program. Effective Fall 2011, failure to complete the master’s degree after five years will result in the student being placed on probation. The probationary period will begin at the start of the sixth year. As part of the probationary status, the student will not be able to register for an additional semester unless the student has received a letter of approval signed by the chair of her/his master’s program. The probation notice will be rescinded if the student completes the degree within seven years. Students who do not complete the degree within seven years are subject to dismissal. Approved leaves of absence do not count toward these time limits.

By this policy, if at the end of year seven, additional time is needed for completion of the master’s degree due to circumstances beyond the student’s control, and the student has completed all of the degree requirements except the thesis and/or capstone experience (e.g., field practicum/internship), an extension in the form of a letter of petition may be requested. To request an extension, the student’s Graduate Committee Chair, with the approval of the Program Chair/Director, must submit a petition to the Chair of the Graduate Council to be evaluated by the Chair of the Graduate Council and the VCAA. If the program does not file for an extension, the student will be dismissed.

The extension request should provide a timeline for completion that includes the expected graduation date and the reason(s) necessitating the extension.

The student will be subject to the policy of continuous registration, including the entirety of the probation and extension period, except if s/he is on a leave of absence (see continuous registration.)

The Catalog stipulates the specific requirements for a master’s degree in each program of the University. The minimum requirements include the following:

  1. Students must maintain continuous registration, including the semester in which the degree is awarded.
  2. Students must complete at least 24 credit hours of graduate coursework in residence. A minimum total of 30 credit hours of graduate coursework are required for all master’s degrees. A maximum of six hours of transfer credit is allowed for programs requiring 30 credit hours; additional credit hours may be accepted for transfer in programs that require more than 30 credit hours, as long as the 24 credit minimum in residence is maintained.
  3. Graduate students must maintain at least a B average in courses approved by the program or graduate committee and presented for the degree.
  4. Students must fulfill all departmental or school course requirements. (No credit is granted for graduate courses in which a grade lower than a B- has been received).
  5. Students must complete all other requirements as listed by the specific graduate program.
  6. Students must complete all requirements, including thesis if required by the program, within five years after admission to the Graduate Division.

There are specific Graduate Level Forms (Form 1 (PDF), Form 2 (PDF), and Form 3 (PDF)) used to mark the student’s progress through the graduate program. They should be completed in collaboration with the primary academic advisor and submitted within the stated deadlines. Other useful forms are also posted at this site.

Examination

If a general examination is required for the student’s master’s degree, the examination may be written, oral, or a combination of both. The decision for pass or fail shall be by majority vote of the graduate committee in programs that utilize a graduate committee. In programs that do not use graduate committees, the program faculty by majority vote shall determine whether the student has passed or failed.

Thesis

If a thesis is required for the student’s master’s degree, the graduate committee, or the program faculty in programs that do not use graduate committees, will supervise and approve the thesis. Programs may designate additional examiners for the master’s thesis beyond the student’s graduate committee. Students must receive approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for theses involving human subjects or from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for theses involving use of vertebrate animals. Approval from these institutional committees, where appropriate, must be sought at the time of approval of the thesis topic, and research on the thesis may not commence until after IRB and/or IACUC approval is granted. Where appropriate, permission from other entities, such as the Office of Research Services and the UH Hilo Environmental Health & Safety Office may be required.

Publication is required for all theses.

Awarding of the Degree

When a student has satisfied the requirements for a master’s degree, the student submits Form 3: Thesis/Project/Dissertation and Degree Requirements Completion (PDF) to the Graduate Division by the required deadline, generally about three weeks after the end of the final semester. If submitting a thesis, this form verifies that the thesis has been submitted to the Library. Due dates can be found in the Academic Calendar. Those who have not completed all degree requirements by the established deadlines will be required to register the following semester.

See the complete requirements checklist below.

Completion Letter

Students who complete all requirements for the degree well in advance of the award of the degree may, upon request, receive a statement from the Office of the Registrar certifying that all requirements for the degree have been completed.


Checklist for Completion of Degree Requirements: Master’s Degrees

Thesis Option (Plan A)

  1. Graduate program: Assigns primary advisor and committee.
  2. Student: Submits Form 1: Graduate Committee Formation to the Graduate Division Office.
  3. Student: Submits Form 2: Thesis/Project/Dissertation Proposal to the Graduate Division Office when ready to begin thesis.
  4. Student: Satisfies residence and course requirements.
  5. Student: Maintains continuous enrollment in program.
  6. Student: Completes coursework required for the degree.
  7. Student: Completes any other program requirements.
  8. Student: Passes general examination if required.
  9. Student: Registers for semester in which degree requirements will be completed.
  10. Student: Submits Graduation Application form to the Cashiers Office by the required deadline. If student wants to participate in Commencement exercises, student submits the separate Commencement Registration by the required deadline.
  11. Student: Submits a copy of the Thesis Defense Schedule (PDF) to the Graduate Division one month prior to the defense deadline posted in the University Academic Calendar. Student retains the original until the time of the defense, and submits the completed form to the Graduate Division with the Primary Advisor’s signature indicating successful (or unsuccessful) completion of the defense.
  12. Student: Defends and completes thesis.
  13. Student: Obtains signatures of committee members on Form 3: Thesis/Project/Dissertation and Degree Requirements Completion.
  14. Student: Submits thesis on ETD Administrator.
  15. Student: Obtains initials of the Collection Development Librarian (or designee) on Form 3, then submits form to the Graduate Division by the required deadline posted in the University Academic Calendar.
  16. Graduate Division: Obtains final signatures.

Non-Thesis Option (Plan B)

  1. Graduate program: Appoints primary academic advisor and, where appropriate, graduate committee, in consultation with the student.
  2. Student: Submits Form 1: Graduate Committee Formation to the Graduate Division Office, indicating the student will complete the Non-Thesis track.
  3. Student: Satisfies residence and course requirements.
  4. Student: Maintains continuous enrollment in program.
  5. Student: Completes any other program requirements.
  6. Student: Registers for semester in which degree requirements will be completed.
  7. Student: Submits Graduation Application form to the Cashiers Office by the required deadline. If student wants to participate in Commencement exercises, student submits the separate Commencement Registration by the required deadline.
  8. Student: Passes final examination, and/or passes requirements for papers or projects as specified by the graduate program.
  9. Student: Completes all other requirements specified by the graduate program.
  10. Student: Submits the Authorization to Participate in Commencement to the Graduate Division by the deadline posted in the University Academic Calendar.
  11. Student: Submits Form 3: Thesis/Project/Dissertation and Degree Requirements Completion with appropriate signatures to the Graduate Division by the required deadline.
  12. Graduate Division: Obtains final signatures.