Steps to Degree Completion - Master's Plan A

Due to the variability of each graduate study program, this guide is not an official checklist. Please check with your graduate program coordinator for official degree completion guidance.


By the End of the Second Semester

Establish Your Supervisory Committee

When a student is accepted to a master’s degree program, the department head typically appoints a temporary advisor. In most master’s degree programs, a supervisory committee will be established for each student. During the first semester following matriculation, the student should meet with the temporary advisor to discuss the appointment of a supervisory committee. Supervisory committee members must be part of the graduate faculty or be approved by the vice provost of graduate studies. A completed Supervisory Committee Approval form should be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies by the end of the student’s second semester. Changes to a supervisory committee must be approved by submitting a Supervisory Committee Revision form, and are not to be made during the six weeks prior to the final defense.

A master’s degree supervisory committee must include at least three faculty members who are members of the graduate faculty. At least one member must represent the student’s area of specialization, and at least one must be from outside the specialization area. Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees but may not chair new committees.

Within The School of Graduate Studies and departmental requirements, the supervisory committee determines the courses for the student’s program of study, conducts departmental qualifying examinations (if required), supervises the student’s thesis research, and conducts the defense or final examination. The defense or final examination must be scheduled through the School of Graduate Studies. The major professor, who serves as the chairperson of the committee, usually directs the thesis.

Finalize your Program of Study

The program of study is a contract between you, your committee, and the School of Graduate Studies outlining which courses you will take to meet the School of Graduate Studies requirements and complete your degree program. A student submits this after they have organized their supervisory committee.

To finalize your Program of Study, log into Access Banner and enter your list of courses into the “Plans” section of DegreeWorks. Once completed, notify your graduate program coordinator that your Program of Study is entered. 

Revisions to a Program of Study can be made by contacting your graduate program coordinator who will update the courses listed in DegreeWorks and submit a ServiceNow Program of Study request to the School of Graduate Studies for processing.

Forms to Submit:

Supervisory Committee Approval Form (SCAF)


By the End of the Third Semester

Successfully defend a thesis proposal

Finalize what you’ll be doing for your thesis and present it to your supervisory committee. 

Obtain necessary regulatory approvals to conduct the proposed research

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) CITI Training is required for all MS/A (thesis), MA, and MFA students who entered their programs after March 2020. It is also required for all students funded by NIH, NSF, or USDA-NIFA. The training is also available for any master’s students whose committee deems it appropriate for the student’s thesis.

For updates on IRB regulations and to determine whether your research requires IRB approval, visit the IRB website.

Submit the Thesis/Project Approval form

The Master’s Thesis/Project Approval form confirms you successfully defended a research proposal and have the necessary regulatory approvals to conduct the proposed research.

Forms to Submit:

Thesis/Project Approval (TPA) Form


Preparing for the Defense

Review the defense process and requirements.

View Defense Requirements

Determine your credit load for your defense semester.

You must be registered for at least 3 credits the semester of your defense. To maintain full-time status at 3 credits, you must submit a Full Time at 3 Credits form and receive departmental approval.

Submit an Appointment for Examination form.

The Appointment for Examination form confirms that all required paperwork is complete, and your committee members have read the thesis/dissertation and agree it’s ready to be defended. This must be submitted 10 business days before your final defense.

Forms to Submit:


After the Defense

Submit the Thesis/Dissertation Format & Style and Electronic Publication Approval form

Notify the School of Graduate Studies which format your thesis will be in and provide your approval for electronic publication by submitting the Thesis/Dissertation Format & Style and Electronic Publication Approval form.

Submit the Authorship & Copyright form

Specify your plans for publication and confirm data copyright by submitting the Authorship & Copyright form.

Make any necessary thesis revisions

Notify your graduate program coordinator (GPC) once your committee and department reviewer have approved all the revisions to the thesis.

Plan for a grace semester (if needed)

After defending a thesis, students are given until the last day of the next semester (spring, summer, or fall) to resolve any incomplete grades, degree requirements, and final edits to your thesis. This is known as a grace semester.

Fill out an embargo request form (if desired)

The embargo request form is used to restrict electronic release of your thesis.

Make sure you’ve met all degree requirements

  1. Thesis has been successfully defended.
  2. Residency requirements have been met.
  3. The approved Program of Study courses/credits match USU transcript courses/credits.
  4. Correct credit amounts and letter grades (no “incompletes”) are posted to ALL courses on your USU transcript.
  5. Email notification has been received from DigitalCommons confirming the thesis has cleared library checks.
  6. The Vice Provost of Graduate Studies has reviewed and signed the thesis.

Apply for graduation

  1. Complete the graduation application by the university deadline and pay the $15 graduation fee.
  2. Submit a Graduation Check Request once you have received confirmation that your dissertation has cleared the Library. 

    Students who do not complete these forms will not be awarded a degree.

Forms to Submit: