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. You'll find instructions for applying for admission beginning on page 29.

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 Academics and Regulations 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 Graduate School's 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.

The finalized Graduate Study Plan should be the basis for completing the Advancement to Candidacy form. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the courses identified on the Advancement to Candidacy form. For the purpose of satisfying degree requirements students must earn a B (3.0) or better (no P grades) in each F400-level course and a C grade (2.0) or better in each 600 level course. A B- is less than a 3.0 and, if obtained in a F400 course, will not count for meeting degree requirements; likewise a C- is less than a 2.0, and if obtained in an F600-level course, will not count for meeting degree requirements.

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 receive stipends for either a semester or the academic year. Graduate assistants can be paid for a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students with assistantships must be registered for at least 9 credits during both the fall and spring semesters (audited credits are not eligible).

Any exceptions to the 20-hour per week rule must be approved by the student's committee chair, department head, college dean and dean of the Graduate School. Complete a Student Employee Waiver Form (available at to request approval of more than 20 student work hours per week. Foreign nationals on temporary student visas are not permitted to work more than 20 hours a week while classes are in session and are not eligible for an overload waiver.

Teaching assistantships include a tuition payment by the university for no more than 10 credits 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 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 payments must be used for courses directly related to the student's degree program. All fees are the responsibility of the student unless the department or institute makes other arrangements with the UAF Graduate School prior to registration.

A graduate student with a GPA of less than 3.0 for one semester will be allowed to petition to continue as a graduate assistant for the next semester, but only once. The petition by the student must be approved by the student's advisory committee chair, department head, college dean and dean of the Graduate School.

Graduate Certificates

Graduate certificate programs are designed to provide education past the baccalaureate level and/or to meet clearly defined educational needs of students who have already completed a master's degree. Completion of a graduate certificate should prepare students to better accomplish their goals or meet employment criteria.

These programs typically require between 12 and 15 credits and provide the student with formal recognition of mastery of a clearly defined academic topic. The credit hours may be applied to other graduate programs where applicable.

Requirements for Graduate Certificates

In order to earn a graduate certificate, students must be admitted to the program and complete the requirements listed in the program section of this chapter. Most graduate certificates are between 12-18 credits. You must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in all course work and be registered in the semester you plan to graduate.

Students may elect to complete their program under the requirements of the catalog in effect at the time of formal acceptance to a graduate certificate program or the catalog in effect at the time of graduation. Students may earn more than one graduate certificate by completing all requirements for each additional program.

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