General Graduate Program Requirements

Master's Degree

Course Requirements

The minimum requirement for a master's degree at the University of New Orleans is 30 semester hours of graduate work, including no more than six hours allowed for research and writing of a thesis. Many degree programs require more than the minimum and students should check the program description for requirements. Graduate credit is awarded for courses numbered 5000-level and above. As a minimum, a student must earn at least half of the required semester hours of work (including not over six hours of thesis credit) in courses numbered 6000 or above. Some departments require more than these minimum standards.

Independent Study

No more than 20% of the total hours required for a degree may be satisfied by coursework completed as independent study.  Research conducted towards an independent study course should be distinct from research conducted towards completion of a master's thesis.

Time Limit

Programs for master’s degrees must be completed within six years. A student may request an extension beyond the time limit with approval from the program and the Director of Graduate School. Courses over fifteen years old will not normally be considered for an exception. A Request for Extension of the time limit form along with a statement of support from the degree program must be submitted to the Graduate School.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to the Graduate School does not imply admission of a student to candidacy for a master's degree. Admission to candidacy is contingent upon the recommendation of the student's program and approval by the Graduate School, after meeting the formal requirements below.

A student will be admitted to candidacy for a master’s degree only after having attained unconditional graduate standing, completed at least 12 semester hours of work with a B average or better and a B average or better overall at the University of New Orleans, and received approval of the student’s major department for such admission. Formal application must be filed in the Graduate School Office not later than a date announced in the calendar. Acceptance of the application rests with the major professor and the Executive Director of Graduate School. The application for candidacy includes the coursework required to complete the degree. The graduate student must adhere to the program outlined on the application. Any changes must be approved by the department and by the Graduate School in writing.

Foreign Language Requirement

Some departments require a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language (classical or modern) for the master’s degree. Students should discuss this matter with their major professor as early as possible.


In most departments the preparation of a thesis is an important element in the program leading toward the master’s degree. A master’s thesis should demonstrate capacity for research, originality of thought, and competency in organization. It must be acceptable in subject matter and exhibit proficiency in composition. Instructions on preparation of the thesis may be obtained from the Graduate School website ( ).

Final acceptance of a master’s thesis rests with a special committee of three or more members who are nominated by the chair of the department in which major work is taken and are appointed by the Graduate School. The major professor is designated chair of this committee. One member ordinarily represents a minor field. The results of the examination will be submitted to the Graduate School along with student and committee verification of copyright agreement, manuscript access level and Human and Animal Subject committee compliance.

Upon committee approval, the thesis is to be submitted to the Graduate School for approval of the format and publication in the University's institutional repository.

Comprehensive and Final Examinations

After a candidate’s course work is at least substantially complete, the candidate will be required to pass a comprehensive examination. This exam may consist of

    1. A written and/or oral examination based on the content of the degree program;
    2. A thesis and final oral defense;
    3. A "capstone" course requiring interpretation and integration of information from previous courses;
    4. A research paper, a "policy and practice" paper, or equivalent experience;
    5. A public performance or exhibition along with a contextualizing paper; and/or
    6. A practicum or internship.

If the comprehensive exam requirement is met with option 1 and/or 2 (above) then the examining committee for comprehensive examinations must consist of at least three members of the graduate faculty appointed by the Graduate School. The candidate for degree must be physically present at the examination. In the case of extreme and unusual hardship the examining committee may make alternative arrangements.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the highest degree offered by the University of New Orleans. It is conferred only for work of distinction in which the student displays power of original scholarship and only in recognition of achievement and marked ability.

The degree is not awarded solely on the basis of study, extending over any prescribed period of time. Nothing in the following summary of minimum standards should be construed to imply that the degree will be granted merely in recognition of faithful performance of prescribed work.
The basic requirements are twofold:

  1. To be admitted to candidacy an applicant must exhibit unmistakable evidence of penetrating mastery of a rather broad major field, which is ordinarily done in a general examination.
  2. A candidate must prove ability to complete a significant program of original research, which is done in a dissertation embodying creative scholarship and by passing a rigorous final examination. The dissertation must add to the sum of existing knowledge, and it must be presented with literary skill.

The degree must be completed within six calendar years following admission to candidacy (upon completion of General Examination), or less, if specified by the individual college or program. Prior work applied to the degree (including transfer and locally-earned credits) must have been completed within nine calendar years immediately preceding the date on which the degree is conferred.  An extension may be granted if approved by the Graduate Council.

While the degree of Doctor of Philosophy cannot be earned simply by passing courses, the program of work prescribed ordinarily provides for a minimum of at least 60 semester hours beyond requirements for the baccalaureate degree. Although coursework requirements are concentrated in the student’s major field, a certain amount of work is always required in one or two minor fields. All coursework programs require approval of the Director of Graduate School. Graduate course work taken at another institution with grades of “A”, “B”, “P”, “S”, or equivalent is not subject to the policy on transfer of credit for the master’s degree and may be included in the program of study, if approved by the program, the student’s advisory committee, and the Director of Graduate School.


Independent Study

No more than 20% of the total hours required for a degree may be satisfied by coursework completed as independent study.  Research conducted towards an independent study course should be distinct from research conducted towards completion of a master's thesis.

Residence Requirement

A doctoral student must earn two consecutive semesters of a minimum of nine hours of residence. The doctoral residence requirement may be met alternatively by three semesters of enrollment at six or more hours, which may be non-consecutive.

The purpose of residency is to provide the doctoral student with significant time for sustained contact with faculty members, an opportunity for research, and time to incorporate professional values into the graduate school experience.

Students who are in residence for the purpose of the above requirement are expected to devote all of their energies to graduate study under the direct supervision of a major professor and/or advisory committee.

Qualifying Examination

Early in the student’s program of graduate study the major department may evaluate the doctoral student for suitability to pursue the doctoral degree. Each graduate program has its own procedure for this evaluation, which may involve written or oral examinations, performance in coursework, or other means.

A student becomes an applicant for the doctorate after passing the Qualifying Examination, if one is required by the program, or at the end of the first year of enrollment in the doctoral program.

Language Examinations

Each doctoral program has specific requirements for proficiency in a foreign language or for the mastery of certain equivalent research skills. These requirements should be met as early as possible, in no case later than the application for the general examination. Consult with the graduate coordinator of the program for further information.

Advisory Committee

An applicant for the doctorate will develop a program of study with the advice and help of a dissertation committee. The committee composition will include at least three members from the major department or a related program. The department chair or designee appoints the committee after consultation with the student and his/her major professor. The Graduate School approves the composition of the committee and may appoint additional members. This committee will serve as the examination committee for the general examination.

General Examination

An applicant becomes eligible for the general examination after satisfying the language requirement, completing a substantial portion of the coursework, and demonstrating adequate academic and professional preparation for independent research. The general examination is ordinarily the most rigorous test in the entire program for the doctorate. The examination may be oral, written, or both according to the rules of the program. The content of the examination must be comprehensive enough to demonstrate expert competence over broad segments of the major field and evidence of deep and current knowledge in the student’s chosen specialty as well as evidence of progress in research. In most cases the remainder of a student’s time will involve concentrated work on the dissertation and preparation for the final examination.


Doctoral candidacy involves formal notification to and certification by the Graduate School that a student has demonstrated superior learning and working capacities, has completed or very nearly completed all course work and other formal degree requirements, and has passed the general examination. Students who have met all the requirements for candidacy must file for candidacy with the Graduate School. The forms are available from the Graduate School website, ( ). Once the forms are approved by the Graduate School, the student becomes a candidate for the doctorate.


The dissertation must demonstrate a mastery of research techniques, ability to do original and independent research, and skill in formulating conclusions that in some way enlarge upon or modify knowledge in their major field. The results must be presented in a scholarly and literate form. Research involving human or animal subjects must be approved by the Committees on Human and Animal Subjects and verification of approval must appear in the final version of the dissertation.

The form and style of the dissertation should follow the accepted practices of the major field concerned. Additional information about acceptable dissertation layout is available from the Graduate School ( After dissertation committee approval, the student must submit the dissertation to the Graduate School by the stated deadline for approval of the format and publication in the University's Institutional repository.

Doctoral students must complete the UMI Author Agreement Form allowing the student’s abstract and title to appear in the Dissertation Abstract International Index.

Final Examination

The chair of the student’s major department must file a request in the Graduate School for the final examination no later than two weeks prior to the examination date. The final examination application is submitted on a form available from the Graduate School website ( The final examination committee will be appointed by the Graduate School and will usually consist of the student’s dissertation committee to which one or more additions may be made as representatives of the Graduate Faculty.

Although the final examination is traditionally conducted as an oral test which is concerned primarily with the dissertation and related problems, the content may be varied in any way the committee decides and may extend into subject matter related to major and minor fields even though well removed from topics suggested by the dissertation. The candidate for degree must be physically present at the defense of the manuscript. In the case of extreme and unusual hardship the examining committee may make alternative arrangements.


In order to pass the final examination, there must be no more than one negative vote on a committee with four or more members. The results of the examination, along with the student and committee verification of copyright agreement, manuscript access level, and Human and Animal Subject Committee compliance must be turned in to the Graduate School Office. The candidate will be certified to the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors by the Graduate School as having fulfilled all requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.