Steps to Degree Completion – Master's Plan B

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 graduate faculty members. Two of those faculty must be the major professor (or advisor) and committee member from within the department issuing the student’s degree and another must be from outside the student’s area of emphasis (but may still be from within the student’s department). At least one member must represent the student’s area of emphasis. 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 paper or project, 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 paper or other degree project.

Finalize your Program of Study.

The Program of Study is a contract between you, your committee, and the graduate school outlining which courses you will take to meet all requirements and complete your degree program. A student completes this after they have organized their supervisory committee.

Please work with your graduate program coordinator (GPC) to finalize your Program of Study. Your GPC will then submit all required paperwork, including revisions.

Forms to Submit:
Supervisory Committee Approval Form (SCAF)


By the End of the Third Semester

Successfully defend a paper/project proposal

Finalize what you’ll be doing for your final paper or project and present it to your supervisory committee. 

Obtain necessary regulatory approvals to conduct your proposed research

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training through CITI is 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 paper/project.

In addition, all university research involving human subjects, animal subjects, radiation materials, recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials, or certain highly toxic chemicals must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate university committees before the research is started.

Consult with your advisor on which approvals and training are needed for your research and degree.

Submit the Thesis/Project Approval form

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

Forms to Submit:
Thesis/Project Approval (TPA)


Preparing for the Defense

Review the defense process and requirements

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 or reviewed the paper/project and agree it’s ready to be defended. This must be submitted 10 business days before your final defense.

Forms to Submit:
Appointment for Examination (AFE)
Full Time at 3 Credits


After the Defense

Make any necessary paper/project revisions

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

Plan for a grace semester (if needed)

After defending a paper or project, 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. This is known as a grace semester.

Submit your plan B report/creative project the Library

By submitting your report/creative project to the Library, you grant Utah State University a non-exclusive license to archive your work and make it accessible to the public. As the author, you retain ownership rights to the copyright and the right to use it in future works.

Make sure you’ve met all degree requirements

  1. Project or paper has been successfully defended and approved by supervisory committee.
  2. Residency requirements have been met.
  3. Credit requirements have been met.
  4. The approved program of study courses/credits match USU transcript courses/credits.
  5. Correct credit amounts and letter grades (no “incompletes”) are posted to ALL courses on your USU transcript.
  6. The student has received a notification from library personnel signifying the paper or project has been accepted.

Apply for graduation

  1. Complete the graduation application by the university deadline and pay the $15 graduation fee.
  2. Submit a graduation check once you have received confirmation that your paper or project has cleared the Library. 

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

Forms to Submit:
Graduation Application
Graduation Check
Plan B Report/Creative Project Submission