2001-2002 UAF Catalog


How to Earn a Degree


To earn a UAF graduate degree, you must satisfy all requirements. General university requirements and degree requirements are described in this section of the catalog; major requirements are found in the Degrees and Programs section.

General University Requirements

To receive a graduate degree at UAF, you must apply and be admitted to a specific degree program and must later be advanced to candidacy for that degree and discipline major.

Catalog and Time Limit

You may elect to graduate under the degree requirements in effect in the first semester of your enrollment in your graduate degree program or the catalog in effect when you graduate. If you don't meet the continuous registration requirements, you will use either the catalog in effect during the semester of your reentry or the catalog in effect when you graduate. If you don't meet continuous registration requirements, you waive the right to use the catalog in effect when you first entered your graduate program.

All non-academic policies and regulations listed in the current catalog apply, regardless of the catalog you are using for your degree requirements. All coursework listed on your advancement to candidacy form and all other degree requirements must be satisfactorily completed within seven years for a master's degree and 10 years for a Ph.D.

Grade Point Average and Grade Requirements

You must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B) for good standing and to graduate. You must earn an A or B grade (no P grades) in 400-level courses; a C grade will be accepted in 600-level courses provided you maintain a B grade average. For the purposes of graduate good standing and meeting degree requirements, all grades, including those generated from retaking a course, are included in the GPA.

Registration Requirement

As a graduate student, you must be registered for at least six graduate credits per year (fall, spring, summer) when actively working toward a degree. If you wish to temporarily suspend your studies, you should obtain an approved leave of absence. If you don't register or obtain a leave of absence, you will be dropped from graduate study and will have to be reinstated before resuming graduate studies. You must be registered for at least three graduate credits in the semester in which you receive your degree and you must apply for graduation in that semester.

Transfer Credit

You may apply post-baccalaureate degree credits earned at UAF while a non-degree student toward a graduate degree only with approval of your graduate advisory committee, to a maximum of one-half of all credits used to meet your degree requirements. Up to one-half of all graduate degree credits approved for your program may be transferred from UAA and UAS. No more than one-third of approved program credits may be transferred from other accredited institutions outside the UA system. You must earn a minimum B grade in all graduate courses presented for transfer.

Course Restrictions

You may not use correspondence courses, credit by examination, audited courses, 500-level courses or courses taken under the credit/no credit option to fulfill the basic course requirements of any degree program. No more than 12 credits of special topics courses (693 or 695) or individual study (697) may be used toward a graduate degree. Requests for exceptions to the limit must be approved by the dean of the Graduate School.


Your advisory committee may require that you correct certain deficiencies in your program. Your committee will determine early in the program how to remedy the deficiencies and the minimum level of performance required of you. Such courses may be taken under the credit/no-credit option, audit or through credit-by-examination.

English Proficiency

You must be proficient in written and oral English. If deficiencies are apparent, your advisory committee will determine requirements to remove the deficiencies. Such requirements may not be used to fulfill the language/research tool some departments require.

Cooperative Programs

In some cases, cooperative programs using specific courses from other universities may be developed before you have been admitted to graduate study at UAF. Part of the application process must include an approved Graduate Study Plan (GSP) that includes the cooperative program. You must complete a minimum of 12 semester credits in residence at UAF, in addition to thesis and research.

The following guidelines are for collaborative Ph.D. graduate studies across all UA academic units:

  1. There shall be at least four faculty members on the graduate advisory committee for each UAF Ph.D. student. At least two committee members shall be UAF faculty. One of the UAF committee members must be on a tenure-track appointment in a Ph.D. granting department. The committee shall be chaired or co-chaired by a UAF faculty.
  2. The graduate advisory committee and its chair and/or co-chairs must be approved by the program director and the graduate dean.
  3. UAF rules and regulations on graduate studies shall apply to all UAF graduate students, including those concurrently enrolled at UAA and UAS.
  4. The graduate advisory committee must meet at least once a year to update the Graduate Study Plan and to review the student's progress toward the degree. The annual progress report must be signed by all committee members and submitted to the UAF graduate dean.
  5. A comprehensive exam committee composed of the student's advisory committee and an additional member, if appointed by the graduate dean, will administer the Ph.D. comprehensive exam for each student.
  6. The Ph.D. thesis defense is to be conducted on the UAF campus.

Graduate Advisory Committee

A graduate advisory committee is normally appointed within the first semester of study to provide guidance to students in developing and completing their degree programs. Committee members for graduate degrees are approved by the appropriate dean, usually upon recommendation of the department head, and by the dean of the Graduate School. Advisory committees for interdisciplinary students are appointed by the dean of the Graduate School. Each interdisciplinary student follows procedures through the department of his or her advisory committee chair. The committee chair's department will be the "home" of the interdisciplinary student for academic purposes.

The major responsibilities of the graduate advisory committee are to formulate a Graduate Study Plan, in consultation with the student, by the end of the student's second semester in the graduate program; to develop a tentative timetable for completion of all requirements for the degree program; to monitor the student's work, both in coursework and research; to provide advice and feedback to the student on that progress; to file an Annual Report of Graduate Student Advisory Committee with the Office of the Graduate School; to approve, where appropriate, a research topic; to supervise the preparation of the research thesis or project when one is required; to uphold the standards of the college/school and the university; to inform the dean, in writing, if a student's performance is inadequate and provide relevant advisory committee recommendations; and to formulate and conduct the comprehensive examination and other exams as required by the department. The student's advisor (major professor, advisory committee chair) acts as head of the graduate advisory committee and takes the lead in fulfilling these responsibilities.

Graduate Study Plan

You must file a Graduate Study Plan (GSP) with the Graduate School before the end of your second semester in a UAF graduate degree program. The GSP outlines the curriculum of study and a timetable to be followed by the graduate student in meeting graduate degree requirements. The GSP is prepared by the advisory committee in consultation with the student, and it serves as a working agreement of mutual expectations between the student and the faculty committee. The GSP not only contains the specific degree requirements but indicates the mechanism for fulfilling these requirements (e.g., via coursework, examinations, readings, internships, other supervised experience, etc.) and a projected timetable for completing the various requirements.

Advancement to Candidacy

Advancement to candidacy formally establishes your specific degree requirements and should be done as soon as possible after qualifying. At the latest, you should submit your application for advancement to candidacy one semester before you are awarded your degree. If you are completing your programs primarily during the summer sessions, your application for advancement to candidacy should be submitted the summer session before you are awarded your degree.

The finalized Graduate Study Plan should be used as a basis for completing this form. (See sections Requirements for Good Standing and Minimal Acceptable Grades when selecting courses to be included on the advancement to candidacy application).

Admission to graduate study does not imply "advancement to candidacy" for a degree. Your graduate advisory committee has the option of refusing to recommend you to candidacy.

Master's Degree

You may apply for advancement to candidacy for a specific master's degree if you are in good standing and have satisfied the following requirements:

  1. satisfactorily completed at least 9 semester credits of graduate study in residence at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (i.e., study after admission to a specific degree program)
  2. received approval of a provisional thesis or project topic
  3. received approval of the finalized Graduate Study Plan, including specific coursework to be completed and any other requirements

Doctor of Philosophy

You may apply for advancement to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree if you are in good standing and have accomplished the following:

  1. completed the full-time equivalent of two academic years of graduate study
  2. completed at least 9 UAF credits
  3. received approval of the Graduate Study Plan
  4. obtained approval of the advisory committee for the title and synopsis of the thesis
  5. passed a written comprehensive examination


Examinations are given in both written and oral form, depending upon the policy of the program unit, the decision of the advisory committee and the specific examination being taken.

Placement Examinations

Some programs have a formalized placement evaluation procedure designed to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in the student's background as an aid in developing the student's Graduate Study Plan. This evaluation is carried out during your first semester at the university, preferably in the first month, and may be written, oral or both.

Qualifying Examinations

A few master's degree programs require the successful completion of a written and/or oral qualifying examination before you may be advanced to candidacy. This examination is an interim evaluation of your academic progress, and you may pass unconditionally or conditionally. A conditional pass indicates specific weaknesses in your background that must be remedied before degree requirements are completed. The Graduate Study Plan and later the advancement to candidacy form should include mechanisms for remedying these weaknesses.

Comprehensive (Final) Examination

The primary purpose of the comprehensive examination is to determine whether you have integrated knowledge and understanding of the principles and concepts underlying your major and related fields. For master's and educational specialist degrees, students usually take this examination during their final year; it may be either oral or written or a combination of both. For the Ph.D. degree, students normally take a written comprehensive examination within two academic years of entering the program, but no later than two academic years before the expected completion of the degree (whichever is earliest). At the discretion of the Ph.D. student's advisory committee, an oral examination may supplement the written comprehensive examination. Each student must pass the comprehensive examination prior to advancement to candidacy.

Defense of Thesis Examination

If you are required to complete a thesis in partial fulfillment of degree requirements, you must pass an oral defense of thesis examination. The defense will consist of a presentation followed by questions on the research, analysis and written presentation. Your thesis will not be accepted for final submission by the Graduate School until you have successfully defended it. All committee members must be present for the defense of thesis.

Examination Committee

In most cases, examinations are prepared and administered by the student's graduate advisory committee under guidelines formulated by the faculty of the program unit in which the degree is being taken. In a few programs, examinations are replaced or supplemented by departmental or school examinations and administered by an established examining committee and the chair of the student's advisory committee.

Outside Examiner

An "outside examiner" representing and appointed by the dean of the Graduate School is required at all Ph.D. oral examinations (except the placement examination). The examiner must be from a different department than the candidate and chair of the advisory committee. The function of the outside examiner is to determine that a stringent, unbiased examination is given and that it is fairly administered and evaluated.

Language/Research Tool Requirement

Proficiency in a second language or a research tool may be required in some programs. This is not a university requirement, but it may be required by the department or program offering the degree or specified by your advisory committee if its requirements exceed those of the program.

The specific language or research tool is determined by your advisory committee, guided by policies of the administrative unit in which the degree is offered. Generally, competency in a second language is required; however, computer languages, statistics, mathematics, etc. or study in areas such as history or philosophy of science, business, administration or law, economics, etc., may be substituted by the committee upon the approval of the department or program head. In all instances, topics selected must be supportive of the student's degree program. At the discretion of the advisory committee and the approval of the department head, proficiency in written and oral English may be used to satisfy this requirement for foreign students whose primary language is not English.



You are responsible for meeting all requirements for graduation.

Application for Graduation

You must be registered for at least three graduate credits in the semester in which you receive your degree. An application for graduation and non-refundable fee must be filed with the Office of the Registrar at the beginning of the semester in which you plan to graduate. Applications for graduation filed after the deadline date will be processed for graduation the following semester. You need not have all requirements met before you apply for graduation; this is an indication that you are planning to finish during that semester.

Diplomas and Commencement

UAF issues diplomas to graduates three times each year: in September following the summer sessions, in January at the close of the fall semester, and in May at the end of the spring semester. All students who complete degree requirements during the academic year are invited to participate in the annual May commencement ceremony. You are responsible for ordering your cap and gown through the UAF Bookstore in early spring. Master's students also must order hoods; the color of the hood is determined by your school or college. Doctoral students who attend the commencement ceremony will receive a doctoral hood on stage during the ceremony.