Master's Degree Requirements

Students should be thoroughly familiar with the regulations in the University Bulletin and Department website.

Columbian College requires all master's candidates, both full-time and part-time, to complete all academic requirements within a maximum of four calendar years from admission to candidacy.

The Master's degree requires satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved graduate course-work (several departments require more). Some departments require a Master's thesis while others do not; many have special departmental requirements in addition to those stated here (see Special Departmental Requirements).

Transfer of Credits

A student who is a degree candidate in Columbian College of Arts and Sciences may request transfer of post-baccalaureate, graduate-level course work taken outside the School. No more than one-quarter of the semester hours of graduate course work required for a degree may be approved for transfer (up to 9 hours in a 36 hour program, for instance). Please note that this policy applies to all post-baccalaureate, graduate-level course work, including credits earned on a non-degree basis at GW. This request should be submitted within the first semester of matriculation.

Students who wish to transfer credit into their program should consult their Director of Graduate Studies as early as possible and arrange for the department to petition CCAS via the appropriate form. Grades from transfer credit (including GW non-degree course work) are not part of graduate GPA.

For a transfer of credit to be approved, all of the following conditions must be met:

  • The course work must have been taken at an accredited college or university.
  • The department must approve it as appropriate to the student's program of studies.
  • It must have been taken within the past two years.
  • It must not have been applied to the completion of requirements for another degree.
  • The student must have received a grade of "B" or better.
  • An official transcript showing completion of the course work must be on file in the CCAS office before the request can be considered.

Once enrolled as CCAS degree candidates, students are not permitted to transfer course work taken outside the university, except under extraordinary circumstances (petitions must be submitted, in advance, through the department to the CCAS Graduate Office).

Special Departmental Requirements

Many programs and departments have adopted special departmental requirements in addition to the CCAS requirements stated here. Students should consult the department listing in the Graduate Bulletin and their Director of Graduate Studies regarding such requirements. Students are encouraged to complete their requirements as early as possible; delay may postpone graduation. Information on foreign language placement exams is posted on the Language Center website.

Master’s Comprehensive Examination

Master's Comprehensive Examinations are designed and administered, usually once each semester, by the departments; students should consult their Director of Graduate Studies for details.

Students who fail a Master's Comprehensive Examination may, with the approval of the department, repeat the examination at the next scheduled examination date. If the student fails a second time, no further opportunity is permitted and the student's degree program is terminated.

The Master's Thesis

All Master’s theses must be supervised by a director plus one reader, both from the candidate’s home Department.

Master's theses are submitted electronically by the student once the document has been approved as final by the faculty. Information and deadline dates are posted on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) websiteFormatting guidelines are included on the ETD site. The guidelines are designed to produce documents that are uniform in style, but they also allow for the particular requirements of the various disciplines. The student must also submit to CCAS the completed ETD Approval Form.

Theses will first be sent to the Gelman Library for approval. Once approved by Gelman, the thesis will be forwarded to CCAS for a final check. Students may receive instructions from Gelman or CCAS to make changes and upload a revised edition of their work. The student will be notified by email once the thesis has been forwarded to ProQuest/UMI.

Students will pay ProQuest/UMI directly on line. The amount charged will depend on the publishing option chosen by the student. GW recommends students choose the Open Access option in the interest of making their scholarship as accessible as possible.

Accepted theses become the property of the University. The University is to be given credit for material used in the publication of any portion of a thesis, whether as a direct quotation or as an adaptation.

Master's students whose thesis research will involve human subjects should review the information on the Office of Human Research website. Also see section on Human Subjects under PHD requirements.