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Master’s Degrees

Minimum Semester Hours Required

At least 32 beyond the baccalaureate; some degree programs require more.


At least 24 hours, or one-half of the minimum number of semester hours of graduate work required for the degree, whichever is greater, must be earned as a degree candidate at UIC. At least 9 hours must be at the 500 level, excluding research seminars (595), project (597), thesis (598), and independent study courses.

Only 400- and 500-level courses can be applied to a graduate degree. Credit toward a graduate degree is only given for courses in which a student received a grade of A, B, C, P, or S. Graduate programs may establish higher standards.

Master’s students who have completed all course credit requirements but have not yet completed a graduation requirement (e.g., thesis, or project, or comprehensive examination) are not required to register unless they hold a fellowship, assistantship or tuition and service-fee waiver. Students who are on a time-limited visa or are in programs that require continuous registration must petition the program and the Graduate College to register for zero hours in an appropriate course (thesis or project).

Foreign Language

Not required by the Graduate College; may be required by the program.

Comprehensive Examination

Not required by the Graduate College; may be required by the program. The candidate must be in good academic standing in the Graduate College and the department and have completed all other degree requirements.

Thesis or Project

Not required by the Graduate College; may be required by the program. Thesis student must earn at least 5 hours in thesis research (the 598 course offered by their program). A maximum of 40 percent of the total hours of credit required for the degree may be earned in thesis research, unless restricted by the program.

Once the student has completed all graduation requirements and is in good academic standing, s/he must defend the thesis before a committee. The thesis committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College on the recommendation of the student’s department or program. This Committee consists of at least three persons, one of whom should be a tenured full member of the UIC graduate faculty. One member of the committee may be from outside the department, academic unit, or outside the university, in which case the member must demonstrate equivalent academic standards and his/her curriculum vitae must accompany the Committee Recommendation Form. A Committee Recommendation Form must be submitted to the Graduate College at least three weeks prior to the thesis defense. A majority of the committee must approve the thesis. A candidate cannot be passed if more than one vote of “fail” is reported. The Department Head or the Director of Graduate Studies will be required to sign the Certificate of Approval Form before a student is considered to have met all the requirements of the thesis. All Committee members should be present at the defense.

Specific instructions on the format of the thesis are contained in the booklet, Thesis Manual, available in the Graduate College Office, 606 University Hall.

Time Limits

In graduate programs requiring 32 to 40 semester hours of graduate work, candidates must complete all of the requirements within five consecutive calendar years after their initial registration in the Graduate College. For programs requiring 41 to 64 semester hours of graduate work the time limit is six consecutive calendar years. Students pursuing more than one degree at the same time will be given an additional two years. Students who do not graduate by these deadlines will be dismissed from the Graduate College for failure to progress. Time spent on a leave of absence approved by the program and the Graduate College is not counted toward the degree time limit (see Leave of Absence (PDF)).


Attendance at commencement is voluntary. The yearly commencement exercises in May recognize all students awarded degrees in the previous three terms.