Time Limits on Completion of Requirements
A graduate student in a master’s or specialist program must complete all degree requirements within a period of six (6) consecutive years and in a doctoral program within a period of eight (8) consecutive years. Time limits shall be computed from and including the first term in which credit applied to the degree is earned at Tennessee Technological University. Courses accepted as transfer credit will not be included in calculations of time limitations. When coursework taken at Tennessee Technological University has expired according to the established time limits for completing a graduate program, the academic unit may allow the student to validate that coursework by examination. See Course Validation section.
If a masters degree student has not graduated by the end of his/her initial 18 semesters (24 semesters for a doctoral student) and has not been granted special approval to continue to take graduate courses and satisfy requirements within the most recent 18 semesters (or 24 semesters for a doctoral student), the student’s status will change to nondegree graduate student and all regulations pertaining to nondegree graduate students will apply. When the change to nondegree status occurs, the student’s graduate committee will be considered to be dissolved and the special responsibilities of the faculty member who chaired the committee are terminated. Nondegree students will not be eligible to register for thesis/dissertation credit.
If the student subsequently reapplies and is admitted as a degree-seeking master’s or doctoral student, the time limit for completion will be computed in the same way as for others, with the period beginning with the first term in which credit applied to the degree is earned. At readmission, the student’s committee is not reinstated; instead, the procedures for forming a committee are to be followed.
All requirements for the degree must be completed in six (6) years, or eight (8) years in programs that require 36 hours or more. Courses older than these limits will not be allowed as credit toward the degree. A student requesting an extension to complete a degree must make such request in writing to GSEC through the advisory committee, chair and dean. The student must provide justification for the request and specifically state what action is requested. A standing subcommittee of GSEC has been formed to review such requests and consists of one faculty member from each college that has a graduate program and one student representative. The subcommittee will review the request and make a recommendation at the next GSEC meeting if the action should be approved, denied, or modified. GSEC will vote on the recommendation, and the student will be notified of the decision. The student may be required to validate expired courses.
Grades earned in courses that are older than program time limits will be shown on the transcript but will not be included in the computation of the GPA for graduation purposes.
The University sets time limits on students to ensure that they have reasonably current knowledge in those courses that comprise the graduate program and for which a graduate degree is awarded. When coursework taken at Tennessee Technological University has expired according to the established time limits for completing a graduate program, the academic unit may allow the student to validate that coursework by examination, subject to the following regulations. The Course Validation form is available on the Graduate Studies website.
- Only students fully admitted to and enrolled in graduate programs and who are in good standing are eligible.
- The grade on the original course must be an “A” or “B.”
- Not more than 12 hours of the total credits in a master’s program may be validated. Not more than one-third of the total credits in a doctoral program may be validated.
- Only courses with fixed content are eligible for validation. (Independent study, research, and workshops are ineligible.)
- Only courses comparable to those still being taught are eligible for validation.
For additional information about course validation procedures and the fees associated with this process, contact the Graduate College Office at 931-372-3233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A graduate student is required to have an advisory committee and is responsible for its formation and maintenance. Several programs have a designated “standing advisory committee.” TTU Policy 271 provides details on the composition of the student’s advisory committee. There will be a hold placed on any student’s registration if an official request for appointment of an advisory committee has not been filed in the Graduate College Office by the time 15 semester hours have been earned. If changes in membership of the student’s advisory committee are desired or required, the student is responsible for submitting a request for such changes. The request, which must include an explanation of the proposed changes, consists of a memorandum from the student to the Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, via the departmental chairperson and the dean of the college. The signatures of faculty leaving or being added to the committee are required to be on the memorandum, as well as the signature of the chairperson of the committee, even if this is not changing. Unless an exception has been granted by the departmental chairperson, the dean of the college, and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, a graduate student who has earned at least 15 semester hours of course credit who does not have an appropriate advisory committee and program of study will not be permitted to register. After 15 semester hours have been earned, failure to be able to form or to maintain an appropriate committee is cause for transfer of the student to nondegree status. After the transfer occurs, all regulations pertaining to nondegree graduate students will apply, the remainder of the student’s advisory committee (if such exists) is considered to be completely dissolved, and the special responsibilities of the faculty member who chaired the committee are terminated. Nondegree students are not eligible to register for thesis or dissertation credit.
For a student transferred to nondegree status (as above) who subsequently submits an application for readmission to the degree program in which previously enrolled, such application must include a request for appointment of a committee signed by all proposed committee members, the departmental chairperson and the dean of the college. Such application for readmission will not be evaluated until an appropriate request for appointment of a committee has been submitted. For a student transferred to nondegree status who subsequently applies to a degree program different than that in which previously enrolled, the usual timing for forming a committee applies.
A faculty member may not direct independent study/research courses taken by a student who is a relative of the faculty member and may not be a member of a relative’s graduate advisory committee. For the purposes of this policy, “relative” means a parent, foster parent, parent-in-law, child, spouse, brother, foster brother, sister, foster sister, grandparent, grandchild, son-in-law, brother-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, or other family member who resides in the same household.
Further regulations concerning membership, appointment, and responsibilities of an advisory committee are given in other sections of the catalog, including the section on “Organization of the Graduate School .”
Program of Study
A graduate student is required to file a program of study with the Graduate School Office by the time 15 semester hours are earned. If the 15-hour deadline is not met, a hold will be put on the student’s registration until it is met. If changes in an approved program of study are required or desired, a substitution form should be filed by the student with the Graduate College Office. Further regulations concerning programs of study are given in other sections of the catalog.
At or near the completion of the course requirements for the graduate degree, each candidate must pass a comprehensive examination conducted by the candidate’s graduate advisory committee. The examination may be oral or written or both. In the examination the student should demonstrate the breadth of knowledge in the discipline, depth in specific areas, and the ability to integrate what has been learned. The following degree programs have a capstone course in which the final course completion is used in place of the comprehensive examination.
Masters of Business Administration completion of BMGT 6950
Professional Science Masters completion of ESS 6910
Masters of Professional Studies completion of PRST 6998
Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning completion of ASTL 6709 or ASTL 7709
Masters of Nursing completion of NURS 6990
Mechanical Engineering non-thesis completion of final project course ME 6900
Serving as a comprehensive examination for students pursuing a thesis track master’s or doctorate, a formal defense of the thesis or dissertation is required. Scheduling of the defense is the candidate’s responsibility. The defense will be attended by the candidate’s advisory committee and other desginees as the individual degree defines.
Application for Graduation
In addition to satisfying all degree requirements, a candidate for a degree must file an Application for Graduation at the beginning of the semester in which the degree is expected to be conferred. The deadline for the filing of the application is posted on the College of Graduate Studies Calendar each semester.
A graduate student shall be enrolled for a course approved by the graduate advisor during the term in which the degree is awarded unless all requirements have been completed by the last day to register for the term. Any prior courses with a grade of “I” do not count toward enrollment hours.
If a student applies for graduation but fails to satisfy graduation requirements, the student must reapply; this must be done by the date appearing in the online calendar.
All final degree requirements for graduation must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office no later than one (1) week prior to commencement, with the exception of the defense form and comprehensive exam form which are due three (3) weeks prior to commencement. Transcripts from other universities used as transfer credit on a program of study must be received no later than two (2) weeks after the commencement date.
The advisory committee approved copy of the thesis/dissertation must be submitted through the eTD Administrator (ProQuest) for format review no later than two (2) weeks prior to commencement. The final copy for publication through ProQuest must be submitted via the eTD Administrator one (1) week prior to commencement.
Rehearsal for the commencement ceremony is on the Thursday before the Saturday ceremony date. The Graduate College will email specific details to the graduating student.
There will not be a commencement ceremony for those graduating in August. Students who wish to participate will be allowed to return to the University for the December commencement ceremony. Exceptions may be made to this policy under extenuating circumstances and require that a CGS Request to Walk in Commencement Form be filed by the student. The completed form must be signed by the student’s department chair, dean, and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies before a final ruling is made by the Committee on Commencements, Convocations, and Academic Ceremonies. Students may participate in only one (1) commencement ceremony for each degree earned at Tennessee Tech University.