Academic Services

Master's Degree

Master's Degree Requirements

University Requirements
Master's Degree Plan I, Thesis Option
Master's Degree Plan II, Comprehensive Exam or Project
Awarding of a Master's Degree
Degree Verification, Transcripts, and Diplomas
Graduate Student Commencement

University Requirements

To complete a master’s degree at UCSB, candidates must:

Master's Degree Plan I, Thesis Option

(Senate reg. 300B, 305B)

In addition to department-specific requirements, this plan requires completion of a minimum of 30 units of upper-division and graduate coursework, of which at least 20 units must be at the graduate level (excluding courses numbered 597 or 598, units for teaching assistant duties or training, or service as a graduate student researcher). A maximum of 10 units of the required 20 graduate units may be in 596 coursework. Some departments also require completion of an examination at the conclusion of coursework.

A thesis is required, which must be approved by each member of the master's committee.

Master's Degree Plan II, Comprehensive Exam or Project

(Senate reg. 300B, 305C)

In addition to department-specific requirements, this plan requires completion of a minimum of 36 units of upper-division and graduate coursework. No fewer than 24 of the 36 units required for the non-thesis option must be in graduate courses in the major subject or in graduate courses related to that subject. Teaching and research practica, 597, or 598 courses may not be used to meet this minimum unit requirement. No more than half of the required 24 graduate units may be in 596 coursework.

Students must also complete either a comprehensive exam or a project:

  • comprehensive final examination is set by the major department and administered by a department-appointed master's committee consisting of at least three faculty members
  • research project must be must be supervised by at least one ladder faculty member. Completion requires approval by the master's committee, which must include at least two members of the department's ladder faculty.

Awarding of a Master's Degree

To be awarded a Master's Degree, students must:

After a student has completed these requirements, the Department Graduate Advisor or Chair sends to Graduate Division a signed degree check sheet (or memo if admitted prior to Fall 2010) verifying that the student has completed all degree requirements, including the exact dates milestones were met. Upon receiving the required departmental master’s degree check sheet (or memo), Graduate Division conducts a final degree check prior to awarding the degree.

Please note: due to the large number of degrees awarded each quarter, degree checks are not performed the same day that Graduate Division is notified of a student's degree candidacy

Degree Verification, Transcripts, and Diplomas

Diplomas are automatically mailed to the "diploma address" on record approximately 3-4 months after the date of degree conferral. If you are unable to update your address on GOLD, see Office of Registrar's Address Verification. A charge will automatically be assessed to the student's BARC account for the mailing cost of the diploma. All questions concerning verifications, transcripts, and diplomas should be addressed to the Office of the Registrar.

Graduate Student Commencement

Each June, the Graduate Division coordinates the commencement ceremony for all graduate degree and credential candidates. 

Posthumous Degrees

For posthumous degree policy, please see Academic Senate Regulation 600. Please contact Academic Services Staff in the Graduate Division for more information on requesting such a degree.

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