Graduate School policy updates

Public defense of dissertation policy update in response to COVID-19 threat

In order to safeguard the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, the Graduate School is temporarily relaxing the requirements for the public defense of the dissertation.

The new policy for the public defense of dissertation

  1. Doctoral students are still required to give a presentation of their dissertation research to their committee. However, they are not required to hold an in-person defense nor are they required to invite the public. 
  2. The Graduate School recommends that the dissertation defense be conducted virtually using Zoom or other comparable video conferencing software. Students are encouraged, but not required, to invite relevant faculty members, students and members of the public to view and participate remotely in the presentation.
  3. The virtual presentation of the dissertation research should be followed by a private defense involving only the student and the committee. The private defense should also be conducted remotely, using video conferencing software.
  4. Graduating doctoral students are still required to submit details of the dissertation defense, including, student name, dissertation title, date of defense and major advisor name/email address to the Graduate School via an online submission form at least 5 business days prior to the holding of the defense. Location and time of the defense are longer be required.

For those inexperienced with remote conferencing, Zoom is a video conferencing tool that can be used for live class sessions, presentations by guest lecturers, instructor office hours, or interactions between students and peers. Zoom allows you to conduct class or hold meetings in a live online format using a web camera and microphone while sharing the contents of your screen. It features the ability to share your screen, a chat function, a virtual whiteboard, breakout rooms for smaller discussions, and allows you to record your sessions. 

TLT has purchased an enterprise license for Zoom which will be provided to students, staff, and faculty at no charge.

View Zoom virtual defense recommendations

The new policy for the public defense of the master’s thesis

If your graduate program requires a public defense of the master’s thesis, please follow the same guidelines recently announced by the Graduate School for the public defense of the doctoral dissertation. These guidelines are provided below. The one exception is that the online submission of defense details for the UNR calendar is not required for master’s theses (it still is required for the dissertation defense). 

  1. Master’s students whose graduate programs require a public defense of the thesis are still required to give a presentation of their thesis research to their committee. However, they are not required to hold an in-person defense nor are they required to invite the public. 
  2. The Graduate School recommends that the thesis defense be conducted virtually using Zoom or other comparable video conferencing software. Students are encouraged, but not required, to invite relevant faculty members, students and members of the public to view and participate remotely in the presentation. 
  3. The virtual presentation of the thesis research should be followed by a private defense involving only the student and the committee. The private defense should also be conducted remotely, using video conferencing software.

View Zoom virtual defense recommendations

Master’s Degrees

  • Increase S/U credits that can apply toward degree from 3 to 6 credits (excluding S/U credits allowed for comprehensive examination, professional paper and thesis credits, but including transfer credits).
  • Increase maximum allowable credits that can be transferred from a completed University of Nevada, Reno graduate certificate from 12 to 18 credits. 
  • Reduce UNR-based course credit requirement from 21 to 18 credits.

Master’s Degrees with Thesis Requirements

  • Provide more flexibility for thesis credits by allowing programs to choose from 6 to 10 thesis credits to be applied to master’s degree (current requirement is 6 credits for all programs). 
  • Reduce graduate course credit requirement from 24 to 20 credits in addition to 6-10 thesis credits for a total of “approximately 30 credits” to be in alignment with NWCCU guidelines. Minor exceptions to 30-credit requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require best practices justification. 
  • Reduce 700-level course requirements from 18 to 9 credits (allows greater utilization of 600-level courses to meet degree requirements). 
  • With program director approval, internship/externship experiences can count for thesis credits.

Master’s Degrees, Non-thesis

  • Change number of total required credits from 30 to “approximately 30 credits.” Minor exceptions to the 30-credit requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require best practices justification.
  • Lower the 700-level course requirement from 18 to 12 credits. 

Doctoral Degrees

  • Reduce minimum total credit requirement from 72 to 60 credits.
  • Reduce 700-level course requirements from 30 to 18 credits.
  • Provide more flexibility for dissertation credits by allowing programs to choose from 12 to 30 dissertation credits to be applied toward doctoral degree (current requirement is 24 credits for all programs). 
  • With program director approval, internship/externship experiences can count for dissertation credits.