Master’s Degree Requirements
The requirements presented in this section are school-wide requirements that have been established in addition to the University-wide requirements detailed under general academic regulations. Students should review the general academic regulations section in addition to the specific school information detailed below.
All master’s degrees awarded by the School of Education require the completion of an approved plan of studies consisting of a minimum of 36 credits (including 9 credits in Basic Areas of Education) and the passing of a comprehensive examination.
Acceptance of Transfer Credits
For University-wide rules, see Acceptance of Transfer Credits under General Academic Regulations. School-specific detail follows.
A maximum of 6 transfer credits may be counted toward an MA or MS degree. A maximum of 12 transfer credits may be counted toward an MAT or MEd degree. Only graduate courses taken as a graduate student may be transferred and applied toward a master’s degree. The only exception are courses taken while an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh during the final term of undergraduate study that meet the following requirements, as explained in the Graduate Catalog :
Undergraduate students who need fewer than 15 credits to complete requirements for the baccalaureate degree and who intend to continue study toward an advanced degree may be permitted during their final term to register for graduate courses that will later apply toward a graduate degree. The student must obtain written permission from the school of proposed graduate study that the courses may count when and if the student is admitted into the graduate degree program. This privilege should not be granted if the proposed total program exceeds a normal full-time load. Although these credits will appear on the undergraduate transcript, they will not count toward fulfilling undergraduate degree requirements. They will be posted as advanced standing credits on the graduate transcript.
Grade Point Average/Academic Probation
All students enrolled in master’s degree programs are required to maintain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.000. The cumulative GPA is based on all course work taken after enrollment in the appropriate graduate program. A student is automatically placed on academic probation when the cumulative GPA after 6 credits or more, exclusive of transfer credits, falls below 3.00. Although the credits allowed for acceptable work completed elsewhere by students enrolled in the School of Education count toward the total number of credits required for the graduate degree, the grades earned in such courses are not included in GPA computations.
While on probation students are limited to registering only for courses in which a letter grade is given. To be removed from probation status, a student must achieve a 3.50 GPA in 6 credits or more. A student can only be placed on academic probation status once during their program of study. Students placed on academic probation status will receive notification in the form of a letter from the School of Education, and they will be recommended to seek guidance from their academic advisor.
Ordinarily, students are required to terminate graduate study after two terms on probation. A student who does not meet the GPA or credit requirements will be dismissed from the School of Education, unless serious extenuating circumstances exist. The request for continuation must include a recommendation made by the Department Chair (or designated faculty member) and the academic advisor, with the recommendation approved by the Dean of the school.
Statute of Limitations
All requirements for a master’s degree must be completed within a period of four consecutive calendar years from the student’s initial registration for master’s study in an MA or MS degree program or within five years in an MAT or MEd program.
Under certain conditions, the dean/associate dean may grant an extension of a student’s statute of limitations. The request for extension must include a recommendation made by the academic advisor, with the recommendation approved by the Dean of the school. The statute of limitations can only be extended once.
Leave of Absence
Under special conditions, graduate students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of one year to may be granted to master’s students. The rationale for the leave of absence must be stated in advance, recommended to the dean by the department, and approved by the dean. If approved, the time of the leave shall not count against the total time allowed for the degree being sought by the student. Readmission following an approved leave of absence is a formality.
Academic Integrity Policy
Students have the right to be treated by faculty in a fair and conscientious manner in accordance with the ethical standards generally recognized within the academic community (as well as those recognized within the profession). Students have the responsibility to be honest and to conduct themselves in an ethical manner while pursuing academic studies. Should a student be accused of a breach of academic integrity or have questions regarding faculty responsibilities, procedural safeguards including provisions of due process have been designed to protect student rights. These general procedures may be found in Guidelines on Academic Integrity: Student and Faculty Obligations and Hearing Procedures at www.provost.pitt.edu. The School of Education has its own academic integrity policies, posted on the School of Education website. Students are encouraged to review these school-specific guidelines as well.
Plan of Studies
Before completion of 15 credits, students, in consultation with their academic advisor, should complete a Plan of Studies that conforms to program requirements. The plan of studies, approved by the academic advisor and the program coordinator, is filed in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services.
Any changes in the Plan of Studies must be approved by the academic advisor and the program coordinator, conform to program requirements, and be filed in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services. At the time of graduation, completed courses must comply with the approved Plan of Studies.
Basic Areas of Education Requirement
All master’s degrees conferred by the School of Education require a minimum of 9 credits of study from the Basic Areas of Education (BAE), 3 credits each from courses offered in the content areas of psychological perspectives on education, social and cultural perspectives on education, and research methods. A maximum of 6 credit hours of BAE courses may be taken from those offered within a single department. The courses in each area that may be used to meet this requirement are listed below. See also individual program curricula for exceptions to how their master’s degree programs meet the Basic Areas of Education Requirement.
Psychological Perspectives on Education
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Education
Master’s Comprehensive Examination
The School of Education requires a comprehensive examination for all master’s degrees. The comprehensive examination is designed to assess the student’s mastery of the general field of graduate study. The comprehensive examination is constructed, administered, and scored by the program or department to which the student has been admitted. Procedures and schedules of administration are available from the program or department. *The student must be enrolled to take the comprehensive examination.
*See also Comprehensive Examination under Regulations Pertaining to Master of Arts and Master of Science Degrees . The University-wide regulations on comprehensive examinations detailed there apply to all School of Education master’s programs.
Thesis, Thesis Equivalent, and Research Paper Requirements
Some MA and MS degree programs within the School of Education are offered with a thesis requirement while others are offered with the option of completing either a thesis or a thesis equivalent. All MAT degree programs and some MEd programs require the completion of a research paper.
Master’s Degree with Thesis
The master’s degree with thesis is intended for graduate students who have pursued advanced graduate study in at least one field of education specialization and have demonstrated through the master’s thesis the capability to plan and carry through a project of original research. The plan of studies should include at least 6 credits in thesis work.
The thesis overview is a written proposal for the thesis. The overview is presented to the master’s committee, which consists of a minimum of three faculty members (at least one from another program or department) selected in consultation with the student by the research advisor and approved by the department. The student must submit a form for approval of the thesis committee. A student must be registered in the term during which the thesis overview meeting is scheduled. A unanimous vote of the master’s committee is required for approval of the overview. The outcome of the overview meeting is submitted on the appropriate form along with a corrected copy of the overview to the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services.
Approval of Research with Human Subjects
If the research proposed in the overview involves human subjects, the proposed research must be approved by the University Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects before it may be carried out. Information on materials that must be submitted and the procedures that must be followed for an IRB review are available in departmental offices and the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services.
Advancement to Master’s Candidacy
To be advanced to candidacy for the master’s degree with thesis a student must:
- be admitted to full graduate status;
- have a minimum grade point average of 3.00 (transfer credits not considered);
- have an approved plan of studies on file in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services;
- have passed the comprehensive examination;
- have an approved overview on file in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services; and
- if the proposed research involves human subjects, have a letter on file in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services from the IRB approving the proposed research.
The thesis research is completed and the thesis is prepared under the direction of the research advisor according to the approved overview. In preparing the thesis, the student must follow the University’s ETD Format Guidelines, and specific departmental or program requirements.
Final Oral Examination
The completed thesis is submitted to the master’s committee for the final oral examination. The student must be registered in the term during which the final oral examination is scheduled. The final oral examination is devoted primarily to the thesis, and an affirmative vote by a majority of the committee members is required to pass the examination. One corrected copy of the thesis as approved by the master’s committee must be filed, along with one copy of a research advisor approved abstract and the form showing a passed final oral examination, no later than one week before the end of the term during which the student expects to graduate. The dean/associate dean must approve any exception to this requirement.
Master’s Degree with Thesis Equivalent Option/Research Paper
Master’s degrees with the thesis equivalent option or research paper requirement are intended for graduate students who have pursued advanced study in at least one field of educational specialization and have demonstrated capability of presenting information relevant to an issue or problem in education. The plan of studies should include at least 3 credits in a research seminar, supervised research, or directed study involving research in the student’s focus area.
Research Paper Requirements
Each candidate for the master’s degree with the thesis equivalent option or research paper requirement must complete, in acceptable form, a research paper that demonstrates the ability to locate, organize, and summarize information bearing on an issue or problem in education. This project is usually initiated and completed in the research seminar of the student’s major. For certain majors, this requirement may be met by other means, such as successful exhibits or demonstrations.