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5. Master’s Degrees

5.1 Residency Requirement

A master’s student must complete at least one-half of the minimum credit hours required for the degree under a Rackham registration on the home campus (i.e., the campus on which the degree program is administered), without regard to allowable reductions for transferring or double-counting credits. The Graduate School does not require that these credits be concentrated in a certain number of terms, but programs may have such a requirement. Courses taken on a visited (audited) basis do not fulfill the residency requirement.

5.2 Credit Hours

A minimum of 24 credit hours (30 credit hours in engineering) of graded graduate coursework (including the grade of S – Satisfactory) registered as a Rackham student while in residence on the Ann Arbor campus. Courses elected as visit (audit) do not meet this requirement, or courses designated as 990, 995, or with “doctoral,” “dissertation,” or “preliminary” in the title. Credits earned before admission will not automatically be applied toward requirements and must be approved by both the program and Rackham OARD (section 5.1). These credits will be listed on the University transcript.

5.3 Cognate Requirement

Rackham recognizes the value of intellectual breadth in graduate education and the importance of formal study in areas beyond the student’s field of specialization. Cognate courses are those in a discipline or area different from a student’s field of study, but which are related or connected with some aspect of this field.

Continuing master’s students who matriculated in their program before the 2018 fall term are required to earn 4 credit hours of cognate coursework. This coursework must be approved by the graduate program, and may be satisfied by:

  • Completing 4 credit hours of cognate coursework in approved graduate-level courses with a grade of B- or better (graduate programs may have additional cognate requirements).
  • Taking a course within a subfield of the department or program other than the student’s own which Rackham has approved as meeting the requirement.
  • Completing a course that is cross-listed or a meet-together with another program; the student’s program should notify Rackham OARD.
  • Using credit officially transferred from another institution (section 5.1) in another field of study.
  • Completing graduate coursework at another institution that meets the expectation of the cognate requirement without officially transferring the credit to the transcript. The student must provide Rackham OARD with an official transcript, including the courses and credit hours, and the graduate program should notify Rackham OARD. These courses do not apply toward the minimum requirement for the degree and do not appear on the University transcript.

The Graduate School’s cognate requirement will end for students who enter Rackham master’s programs starting with the 2018 fall term, but programs may require cognate coursework for a specified number of credits.

The cognate requirement also remains in effect for students admitted to Ph.D. programs who may be eligible to receive an embedded master’s or who exit the program after fulfilling the master’s requirements but before completing the doctorate.

5.4 Additional Program Requirements

Programs may specify additional requirements including graduate-level coursework, reading knowledge of a foreign language, work-experience or practicums, preparation of a thesis, or research essay, and/or a final oral or written examination.

5.5 Time Limit

A student is expected to complete all work within five years from the date of first enrollment in the master’s program. A student who fails to complete requirements within five years may be withdrawn and required to apply for readmission (section 3.5). Students exceeding this limit must submit a petition to Rackham OARD requesting additional time to complete the program. Petitions must describe in detail the amount of work remaining and a timeline for completion.

5.6 Application for Degree

To have the degree awarded, a student must use Wolverine Access to apply for graduation. Deadlines for each term are published by Rackham OARD. Students must apply for graduation by the deadline to have their names published in the commencement program. A student who does not complete all requirements during the term in which the degree application is submitted must reapply to be considered for the degree in a subsequent term. Master’s diplomas are not distributed at commencement but are mailed.

The Graduate School permits students to apply for dual master’s degrees, dual master’s and doctoral degrees (section 6), and certificates of graduate study programs (section 7), but students may not propose a degree program that combines two master’s programs.

5.7 Transfer of Credit

In accordance with the criteria below, graduate credits from outside the Graduate School or the University may be transferred to a master’s program for up to half the credits required for the degree. Requests for transfer of graduate credit must be approved by the program and by Rackham OARD.

To be eligible to transfer credit, a student must be in good standing and have completed 8 or more credit hours of graduate-level, letter-graded courses in residence in the Graduate School with a cumulative GPA of B (i.e., 3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or higher. All conditions for admission must be met, including submission to the Graduate School of an official undergraduate transcript and record of bachelor’s degree.

Criteria for transferring credit:

  • Students may transfer credits for graduate-level courses taken while pursuing an undergraduate degree only if these were not used to fulfill requirements for a degree or certificate. Rackham OARD must have confirmation from the undergraduate institution that the credits were graduate courses that required graduate-level work.
  • Credit may be transferred from other accredited degree-granting universities with graduate degree programs for up to a maximum of 6 credit hours from institutions that use the semester system, or up to 9 credit hours from institutions that use the quarter system (the equivalent of 6 semester credit hours).
  • Credit may be transferred from U-M non-Rackham graduate programs, including those on the Flint or Dearborn campuses, for up to half the credits required for the Rackham degree.

Graduate credits may not be transferred:

  • if they are used or will be used, in whole or in part, to fulfill requirements for a bachelor’s or other degree or certificate;
  • for courses taken at an exclusively undergraduate institution or community college;
  • for courses taken more than five years before admission to the current Rackham master’s program; or
  • for courses where a letter grade of less than “B” has been awarded.

A doctoral student who is also enrolled in a master’s degree program may request transfer of credit for the master’s program.

Transfer course numbers and credits appear on the University transcript, but grades will not be listed and will not be computed in calculating the cumulative GPA, except for courses transferred from Rackham programs at other campuses.

Students use “Transfer of Credit Request” and can direct questions to OARD.questions@umich.edu.

5.8 Accelerated Master’s Programs

Through special arrangements in certain fields of study, undergraduates with an exceptional academic record may apply in their junior or senior year to work toward a master’s degree while fulfilling the remainder of their requirements for a bachelor’s degree. A student who is close to completing undergraduate requirements in 3 or 3 1/2 years may apply to start a graduate program while concurrently finishing the undergraduate degree. Students earning dual bachelor’s degrees are not eligible to apply. Additional information is available from Rackham OARD.

Students may double-count and/or transfer up to half the credit hours of the master’s degree, not to exceed 15 credit hours, but no courses used to meet the requirements of the undergraduate major may be double-counted. Students do not enroll in Rackham until they have completed their undergraduate degree requirements or are within 6 hours of completing. Students must enroll in Rackham for two full terms (9 or more credits each term) within 12 months of completing the undergraduate degree. Student must complete the bachelor’s degree within one calendar year of enrolling in a dual undergraduate/graduate program.

Proposals in LSA may follow the Concurrent Undergraduate/Graduate Studies (CUGS) model, in which students have an undergraduate and graduate registration in the same term for courses that count towards both the undergraduate and master’s degrees. CUGS programs must require a minimum of 15 graduate credit hours and at least one full term of Rackham-only registration, with a term defined as 9 credit hours. A student in a CUGS program is enrolled in both an undergraduate school or college and the Graduate School. The student is assessed graduate tuition and fees and ineligible for undergraduate-only financial aid. Additional information is available from Rackham OARD.

Students admitted to an accelerated master’s program are considered Rackham students and master’s degree policies apply.