How to Earn a Graduate Degree

General university and specific degree requirements for UAF graduate programs are described in this section of the catalog, along with requirements for each graduate program.

UAF tenured faculty, tenure track faculty and research faculty are not eligible to become candidates for a graduate degree within the discipline in which they teach.

Academics, Policies and Regulations

Many academic policies and regulations apply to both graduate and undergraduate students. These guidelines are relevant to your academic experience at UAF and important for you to read and understand. Topics include definitions and requirements for official university communications, full- and part-time student status, academic progress, academic dismissal, grading system and policies, FERPA and the student code of conduct. See page 69 for descriptions of UAF academics, policies and regulations.

General University Requirements

Graduate Advisory Committee

A graduate advisory committee is normally appointed within the first semester of study to guide 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 approved 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 graduate advisory committee’s major responsibilities 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 progress in course work 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 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 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

Graduate students must file a Graduate Study Plan (GSP) with the Graduate School before the end of their second semester in a UAF graduate degree program. The GSP outlines the curriculum of study and a timetable the student must follow in meeting graduate degree requirements. The GSP is prepared by the advisory committee in consultation with the student. It is an agreement of mutual expectations between the student and the faculty committee. The GSP not only contains the specific degree requirements but also indicates the mechanism for fulfilling these requirements (e.g., via course work, examinations, readings, internships or other supervised experience) and a projected timetable.

Changing Programs

Graduate students may change their program only when the areas of emphasis or the degree are within the same department (e.g., from an M.A. in anthropology to a Ph.D. in anthropology, or from a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology to a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry). If the change meets those requirements, you may change programs by completing a change of major form, available from the Registrar’s Office or online at the registrar website. Regardless of when you submit the form, a change of program doesn’t become effective until the beginning of the upcoming fall or spring semester. If, however, you want to change to a program in a different department, school or college (e.g., from an M.S. in civil engineering to an M.S. in biology), you must submit a new application for admission so faculty in the new degree program may fully review your credentials. For more information, contact the Graduate School at (907) 474-7464.

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, you should submit your application the summer session before you are awarded your degree.

The finalized Graduate Study Plan should be the basis for completing the Advancement to Candidacy form. The GPA for all courses listed on the Advancement to Candidacy form must be ≥3.0, and no graduate courses with grades below C, or undergraduate courses with grades below B, can be used.

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


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.


Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistants generally receive stipends of $8,500 to $10,500 for the academic year. Graduate assistants can be paid for a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Rare exceptions to this rule must be approved by the student’s committee chair, department head, dean and the Graduate School dean. Students with assistantships must be registered for at least 9 credits during the fall and spring semesters and 6 credits during the summer (audited credits are not eligible).

Teaching assistantships include a tuition payment by the university for no more than 10 credits to cover three courses during each semester if the workload is 15 to 20 hours per week. If the workload is 10 to 14 hours per week, no more than 5 credits will be included. No tuition will be included if the workload is less than 10 hours per week.

Research assistantships include a tuition payment by grants/contracts for no more than 10 credits to cover three courses during each semester if the workload is 15 to 20 hours per week. If the workload is 10 to 14 hours per week, no more than 5 credits will be included. No tuition will be included if the workload is less than 10 hours per week.

Tuition supplements may be used for tuition only. All fees are the responsibility of the student unless the department or grant makes other arrangements with the UAF Business Office prior to registration.

Students who have a 10-20 hour per week research or teaching assistantship during the summer semester may apply for a summer tuition scholarship. To be eligible for the summer tuition scholarship, students must have been enrolled in a minimum of three UAF credits in fall 2005 and/or spring 2006. Please see the Graduate School for further information or an application.

A graduate student with a GPA less than 3.0 for one semester will be allowed to petition to continue as a graduate assistant for the next semester. A maximum one semester exception will be allowed per student. The petition by the student must be approved by the student’s advisory committee chair, department head and dean.