A3. Transfer Credits
These are credits transferred from another institution. Credits completed at UNR in another program or as a graduate special do not need to be transferred. Transfer credit can be requested on the Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request form available on Graduate School website, and must be signed by the student, major advisor, and graduate director. Transfer credits applied to a master’s program must comply with the time limitation on master’s work (6 years). Thus, if a student took a course five years prior to admission, they would have to complete the degree within one year for the course to apply to the degree. Credits from a completed master’s degree will be exempt from the 8-year time limitation for those students pursuing a doctoral degree.
A4. Academic Standing
Each graduate course must be completed with a grade of "C" or better for the credit to be acceptable toward an advanced degree. Some departments, at their discretion, do not accept any grade lower than "B" for the fulfillment of graduate program requirements. In addition, students must maintain good standing with an overall cumulative graduate credit GPA of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in order to meet graduation eligibility. If the students cumulative grade-point total is between 2.99 and 2.31, the student is placed on probation. The student must then raise his/her cumulative graduate GPA to 3.0 by the end of the following semester or the student will be dismissed from graduate standing.
B. Advisor, Graduate Advisory Committee and Program of Study
NRES requires any incoming students to have an agreed-upon faculty advisor for acceptance to the program. The advisor must be an active (i.e. has not retired, resigned or transferred to another department) tenure-track, tenured, or adjunct member of NRES. A student may have any member of the NRES/UNR graduate faculty as a co-advisor.
B2. Graduate Advisory Committee
The graduate advisory committee plays an important role in the NRES M.S. program. The committee is responsible for assisting the student in designing a program of study that is tailored to the career goals of the student, fills in any academic gaps that may exist in the student’s prior academic background, and provides the needed knowledge for successful completion of the thesis research. The committee is also responsible for guiding the thesis research and ensuring that it meets the standards of the graduate program. Therefore, the committee should be carefully selected by the student in close coordination with the advisor.
Consistent with rules of the Graduate School, each NRES M.S. committee requires at least three advisory committee members, including the advisor. The committee must contain at least one active tenured/tenure-track members of NRES, one of which can be the advisor, at the time of graduation. These requirements become important to keep in mind if the student's advisor or committee member retires, resigns, or transfers to another department before the end of the student's degree. If, through retirement, resignation or transferring, a student's committee no longer has one active tenured/tenure-track NRES members, they must find additional or replacement members to serve on their committee. At least one (the graduate school representative or “outside” member) must be from a department or program different from the department or program from which the student is graduating. As stated on the Graduate School website, “The Graduate School Representative protects the interests of the student, the advisory committee, and the Graduate School. The Graduate School Representative should also act as an "unbiased person" to whom the Dean may turn for judgment and counsel. The primary responsibility of the Graduate School Representative is that of an observer.” However, the Graduate School Representative may also play an important role in guiding the student, particularly if he/she has expertise in the student’s area of specialization.
B3. Program of Study
The membership of the committee must be finalized by the end of the first semester, and is indicated to the Graduate School through the signing of the student’s Program of Study form. Formal approval of all student advisory committees is made by the Graduate Dean. The Program of Study form details both the list of proposed coursework as well as the list of graduate advisory committee members.
B4. Termination of Advisor-Student Relationship
At any point, the advisor/student relationship may be terminated for any reason. Both the advisor and student are responsible for first seeking to resolve any conflicts potentially by involving a third-party to serve as a mediator. If the student initiates terminating an advisor relationship for any reason, or if an advisor terminates their relationship with cause, any agreements for future funding via research or teaching assistantships are nullified starting no later than the semester following this termination. A student who no longer has an advisor has one (1) semester to find a new advisor or is considered as having made "unsatisfactory progress" through the M.S. program and will be prevented from re-enrolling in the program. It is the responsibility of the student to arrange for a new advisor in this case. Establishing a new advisor invalidates the Program of Study. The new advisor may require the student to potentially take new courses, change their advisory committee, retake comprehensive exams or redraft a dissertation proposal, and the student will need to submit a new Declaration of Advisor and Program of Study.
C. Thesis Research
In collaboration with the graduate advisor and committee, the M.S. student will likely be working on their research at the same time as they are taking courses, with the ultimate goal of preparing their thesis for its ultimate public and private defense.
D. Thesis and Defense
The objective of writing a thesis (Plan A) or professional paper (Plan B) is to demonstrate the ability of a student to complete the kinds of tasks he or she will be expected to perform in their professional career. While these typically include novel research, they can also include synthesis or re-evaluation of existing material. In sum, the thesis must demonstrate the ability to independently utilize the scientific method to address questions and hypotheses.
In general, the thesis must be of a quality that is publishable in a peer-reviewed journal of a scientific field relevant to the student’s area of expertise, as judged by the advisory committee or demonstrated by acceptance for publication in such a journal. While there is no length requirement to the Master’s thesis, the thesis must consist of at least one chapter suitable for publication, plus Introductory and Concluding chapters. The professional paper produced by the Plan B (non-thesis) student will be of sufficient quality to demonstrate a high degree of scholarship as judged by the student’s advisory committee.
Successfully completing a thesis will typically include meeting the following guidelines:
- The first draft of the thesis should be provided to the Committee Chair or Major Advisor at least eight weeks prior to the date the thesis is due to the Graduate College. The Advisor will work with the student directly to revise the thesis, which may take several revisions.
- Submit the revised thesis to the Committee at least 6 weeks prior to the date the thesis is due to the graduate college. The Committee should review the thesis and return any comments, criticisms, or suggestions to the student within two weeks.
- The student should carefully and thoroughly address comments made by the Committee and return the revised thesis to the Committee two weeks prior to the date the thesis is due.
- The student will perform an oral presentation of their research, followed by a private committee-led defense.
This timeline represents the minimum acceptable time for each step, and can be modified given consent of student, committee, and advisor.
D1. Thesis Requirements (Plan A)
The objective of writing a thesis is to demonstrate the ability of a student to communicate their science, hypotheses, methods, and findings in written form. In general, the chapter(s) of the thesis must be of a quality that is publishable in a peer-reviewed journal of a scientific field relevant to the student’s area of expertise, as judged by the advisory committee or demonstrated by acceptance for publication in such a journal.
The recommended format for most M.S. students in STEM disciplines is organized such that the core chapter(s) are effectively draft manuscripts that can be submitted to appropriate peer-reviewed journals in the field of study. These chapters can include literature synthesis, meta-analysis, and review. The specific requirements of this format are:
- An introduction preceding the manuscript chapter(s). This section should establish the general scientific foundation for the body of work that will be presented in the manuscript chapter(s).
- At least one (1) manuscript-style chapter.
- A preface that describes what journals each chapter is submitted to or will be submitted to. This will aid the committee and future readers in understanding formatting differences among journals. The preface should also include the status of each manuscript chapter (i.e., published, in press, in review, in preparation for submission).
- A conclusion or summary. This section can also be used to describe implications for management. This section should summarize the body of research in the preceding chapters and can be used to describe implications for management.
- The sections of the thesis that are not manuscript chapters should be formatted in a consistent style. References to literature cited should follow each section.
D2. Professional Paper Requirements (Plan B)
There are no formal requirements for the format of the professional paper produced by the Plan B (non-thesis) student, beyond that the format must be discussed and approved by the student's graduate advisory committee well before the student's defense date.
D3. Thesis/Professional Paper Defense
The defense consists of a public presentation (announced at least one week prior to the defense date) followed by a minimum 1-hour long private discussion among the committee members. The defense is not an oral comprehensive exam; the discussion should focus on the research, its implications, and the student’s capacity to converse about their science. Ultimately, the committee must unanimously agree to sign the "Notice of Completion - Master's Degree" for the student to graduate. At the conclusion of the defense, the committee should consider three potential outcomes to the defense:
- Unconditional pass: the committee has no further formal requirements of the student. The committee should sign the Notice of Completion at this point.
- Conditional pass: the committee imposes some additional requirements on the student (usually additional thesis edits, but possibly additional analysis) before they are willing to sign off on the Notice of Completion. Once the student has completed these additional requirements to the satisfaction of the committee, the Notice of Completion should be sent to the graduate advisory committee for signatures.
- Unconditional fail: the committee deems the work and defense to be unsatisfactory. At this point, the student must petition the advisor(s) for a second attempt to revise the thesis and perform a second defense. The student has one (1) year from the previous defense to accomplish this task. If either 1) the advisor(s) do not agree to a second attempt to defend the thesis, or 2) the student does not defend satisfactorily the second time, the student will be deemed as having made "unsatisfactory progress" through the M.S. program and will be prevented from re-enrolling in the program. While the student may reapply to the M.S. program at a future date, they will be required to meet all of the original program requirements.
Once all requirements have been met, students must submit a Final Review Approval and Notice of Completion form in order to graduate.
- Notice of completion – this completed form should be submitted after all requirements have been met. If the student has an unconditional pass during their defense, the student should have this form signed by the committee at the conclusion of the defense.
- Final Review Approval – Obtain sign-off from advisory committee chair.
E. Annual Statement of Goals and Expectations and Evaluations
Clear communication of advisor-student expectations and timely evaluations of students' progress meeting these milestones is a critical step towards keeping students on-track for completing their degrees and having a positive and rewarding experience during the process. As such, all students are required to prepare, in collaboration with their advisor, an annual statement of goals and expectations at the beginning of the school year, and an evaluation of the student's progress meeting these expectations at the end of each school year. After each annual evaluation, a new statement of goals and expectations is established for the next year.
Statement of Goals and Expectations
Evaluation of Goals and Expectations
F. Graduate School Academic Requirements
All graduate students must maintain a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0. If their GPA drops below 3.0, they are either placed on probation or dismissed. Undergraduate courses will not count towards graduate GPA.
Probation: students whose cumulative graduate GPA falls between 2.31 and 2.99 are automatically placed on academic probation for one semester. If they fail to raise their cumulative GPA to 3.0 by the end of one semester, they are dismissed from their graduate program. Thesis, dissertation, S/U graded credits, and transfer credits have no impact on a student’s GPA.
Dismissal: students whose cumulative graduate GPA is 2.30 or lower are dismissed. Dismissed students are no longer enrolled in their graduate program but may take graduate-level courses as a Grad Special. Dismissed students wishing to complete their degree must obtain approval to take graduate-level courses, raise their graduate GPA to at least 3.0, and then re-apply to their graduate program. Any courses taken in an effort to raise their GPA will be included in the graduate special/ transfer credit limitation (9 credits for master’s degrees).
Please refer to Nevada System of Higher Education CODE on Student Program Dismissal Procedures (SPDP) and review conference policies: (NSHE CODE, Chapter 11, Sections 1-3). If program dismissal is based upon failure to maintain required grades or a required GPA as described above, SPDP does not apply and the student may be summarily dismissed from the graduate program.
G. Exceptions to Degree Requirements
The requirements detailed above constitute the expectations of all M.S. students entering the program, but we recognize that there may need to be exceptions to these policies under certain circumstances. As such, it is the right and responsibility of the Graduate Program Committee to consider any requests for exceptions to these policies. Policy exception requests should be made, via email, to the Graduate Program Director. The exception request should include a description of the specific policy under question, and why the student cannot meet this expectation. The policy will be voted on in a timely fashion by the Graduate Program Committee, with ties being broken by the Graduate Program Director. If the exception illuminates a more general issue that future graduate students may need to deal with, the Graduate Program Committee may elect to modify this handbook to reflect these changes. Please note that some requirements are set by UNR and are cannot be overridden by the Graduate Program Committee. Exceptions to these UNR-level policies may need to be escalated to the Graduate School in collaboration with the Graduate Program Director.