This checklist is intended to be used as a supplement to information obtained from the University Catalog, the Schedule of Courses, the major department, and as an aid to preparing degree plans for master students. The major department should be consulted about specific additional requirements.

In brief, to graduate you must:

  • Meet all graduation deadlines
  • Be admitted into candidacy
  • Apply to graduate online for the current semester of graduation
  • If doing a final exam or thesis defense, have the committee approved and successfully pass your final exam/thesis defense (If your program has a coursework only option for non-thesis students, have your degree plan approved)
  • Be registered on the Boulder campus the semester you pass your final exam
  • International students in F-1 or J-1 status should ask an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services* about immigration requirements for the semester following your comprehensive/final exam
  • If doing a thesis, have registered for 4-6 thesis hours
  • Submit electronically and obtain approval of your thesis to the Graduate School, along with the Thesis Approval Form
  • Have your department submit a final grade card for thesis hours
  • Have earned a grade of C or better on all classes applying toward your degree
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 with no incomplete coursework
  • Stay within the 4 year time limit to complete your degree
  • Have at least 2 semesters of full-time registration (two semesters of part-time equals one full semester)
  • Meet department requirements


All deadlines must be met to insure graduation during a particular semester.  Deadlines are available from the major department or from the Graduate School.

Graduate Courses

Minimum hours: For Plan I (thesis option) or Plan II (non-thesis) the minimum number of hours is 30, which can include thesis hours for Plan I students. Students completing a thesis must register for a minimum of four and a maximum of six thesis hours. (Contact your department for appropriate course numbers). If a student switches from Plan I to II, thesis hours must be dropped and the Graduate School contacted. Course level: A maximum of six credit hours may be completed at the 3000 or 4000 level at the discretion of the department. 1000 or 2000 level courses are not applicable toward a master degree.


A graduate student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on all coursework taken regardless of the level of coursework or the reason it was taken.  Any course being applied toward the degree must be taken for a letter grade and must be given a grade of C or better to apply. Grades earned in transfer courses or courses taken as a non-degree student are not calculated into the graduate GPA. A student cannot be admitted to candidacy or graduate with a cumulative GPA below 3.0. For policies concerning academic probation, refer to the graduate school rules in the University Catalog.

Graduate Faculty

All courses numbered 5000 or above listed on the degree plan must be taught by members of the graduate faulty.  Membership on the University faculty does not automatically constitute an appointment to the graduate faculty. Contact your departmental graduate program assistant for questions concerning these appointments.

Transfer Courses

Transfer credit is defined as any credit earned at another accredited institution, credits earned at another campus of the CU system, or credits earned as a non-degree student within the CU system. A completed Request for Transfer of Credit form should be approved by the major department, have an official transcript (including transcript key) attached and be submitted to the Graduate School after completion of six credits as a regular degree seeking graduate student with a 3.0 GPA or better. The transfer limit for the MFA degree is 18 hours. The transfer limit for all other master degrees is 9 hours. To transfer a course it must have a grade of B or better. Transfer courses are not calculated into your GPA. Transfer work that is five years old or more at the time of transfer must be evaluated by the major department as to current relevance and applicability to degree requirements.  At the discretion of the department, a student may be asked to validate transfer credit prior to approval. See the back of the form for further transfer of credit rules.


Per federal law, all student research that involves any contact with human subjects or animals requires some level of review and approval by the Institutional Review Board and/or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committe prior to the research being initiated. Failure to abide by this policy can result in a delay of graduation and/or fulfillment of degree requirements. More information on human and animal research.

Involvement of Students in Restricted Research

Students must be free to pursue knowledge in an open environment. Any petition for student involvement in research projects that imposes either explicit or potential restrictions that could affect students' academic research and publications must be vetted by the Standing Committee on Restricted, Proprietary, and Classified Research and approved by Chancellor or Chancellor’s designee.  Concurrence by the department chair or graduate advisor must also be provided to the student(s).  Students may not engage in classified research as part of their formal academic work.

Application for Admission to Candidacy

The application is considered a legal document and must be signed by the student and have appropriate departmental signatures. This is considered your degree plan and will be verified against your records to approve your degree.  Students will receive written notification when the application for candidacy is approved.

Final Exams

Each candidate for master degree is required to complete a comprehensive-final examination/thesis defense after the other requirements for the degree have been substantially completed, or to present an approved degree plan which meets the requirements of the field and represents an intellectually coherent graduate education as determined by the major department. The examination/defense must be scheduled, and the Graduate School notified by submission of the Master’s Examination Report form at least two weeks before it is held. The chair of the exam committee must hold a regular graduate faculty appointment. The other committee members must hold a regular or a special appointment. Students must be registered as a regular, degree-seeking student during the semester the examination is passed. The student must have an affirmative vote from the majority of the committee to pass.


Master's thesis plan students must submit their thesis electronically, along with the Thesis Approval Form (TAF), by the Graduate School’s deadline in order to graduate in any given semester. Students should submit the thesis electronically and must have an approved submission by 5:00 p.m. on the deadline day. The TAF must be submitted along with the thesis as a supplemental file.  See formatting specifications for the thesis. The Graduate School recommends that a pre-check of your format be done before you submit the final version.  You can request that by e-mailing a pdf of your thesis to

Online Graduation Application

Students must apply online to graduate.  To do this, logon to  On the Student tab, select the Apply for Graduation link under Academic Resources.   This notifies the Graduate School and your department that you intend to graduate and it provides necessary information to the Commencement Office for ordering and shipping diplomas.  If you do not complete requirements for the graduation you indicate on the online application, you must apply online to graduate for the new graduation date.  You must apply to graduate online whether or not you plan to attend the ceremony.

Leaving School

Graduate students who need to leave school for 1-2 semesters may participate in the Leave of Absence Program (details available from the Office of the Registrar). Any semester(s) on Leave of Absence are included in the time limit to complete the degree. Students who are not utilizing the Leave of Absence program and do not register during a given fall or spring semester will be automatically withdrawn from the University and must fill out an application for readmission. Students who withdraw from school permanently must do so formally with the Registrar’s Office. If you are an international student and plan to participate in the Leave of Absence program or withdraw from school, please see an advisor at International Student and Scholar Services*.

International Students in F-1 or J-1 Status

If you are graduating be aware of the following:

Grace Periods

If you plan to leave the U.S. after completing your studies you will have a grace period during which time you can prepare for your departure.  For F-1 students, this grace period is 60 days. For J-1 students it is 30 days.

Employment After Graduation

F-1 students: Apply for Optional Practical Training early in the semester that you will graduate (you must apply before graduation). Processing times usually take 3-4 months. 

J-1 Students

Apply for Academic Training before your date of graduation.

Transfer Students

See an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services. International Student and Scholar Services is located in the Center for Community, room S355