Programs of Study
Programs of study toward advanced degrees are less formal than for undergraduate degrees. Individual programs are planned for each student on the basis of educational background and career objective. Graduate degrees are not only awarded on the basis of completion of specific courses, but also on the basis of evidence of proficiency, scholarship, reasoning and investigation, and high attainments in the field of the student’s specialization.
Although the maximum number of credits required in any degree program is determined in accordance with the formalized program approved for each student, a candidate for the master’s degree must complete at least 30 semester hours of credit in a program requiring a thesis or at least 33 semester hours in a nonthesis program. The MBA program, while nonthesis, requires only 30 hours. The MA program in Exercise Science, Physical Education, and Wellness requires only 30 semester hours of credit for both the thesis and nonthesis options. Nonthesis options may be permitted by departments when authorized by the Graduate School Executive Committee (see “credit requirements” below). At least seventy percent of the credit to be counted toward a master’s degree must be at the 6000 level or above. In addition to the minimum course credits required for the advanced degree, other courses may be required as prerequisites depending upon the student’s educational background, preparation, and objectives; however, credit earned below the 5000 level will not be counted toward a graduate degree. Courses listed as 4000 (5000) may be taken only at the 5000 level for graduate credit, and graduate credit is earned on the basis of additional work required by the instructor. Courses taken at the 4000 level may not later be taken at the 5000 level without special permission from the departmental chairperson, dean of the college, and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Credit earned for one (1) degree program cannot be used in another degree program.
Any nonthesis program which is considered for approval by the Graduate School Executive Committee must demonstrate that it fosters independent learning.
A student desiring to pursue study for the master’s degree in a field which may be different from the field of his undergraduate degree, and in which the necessary prerequisites are lacking, may do so by including in the program of study (as background courses) all the necessary undergraduate prerequisites for the area of specialization in addition to the required number of hours for the degree.
Each proposed program of study must be approved by the student’s advisory committee, the departmental chairperson, and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.
There will be a hold placed on each student’s registration if the program of study has not been filed in the Graduate School Office by the time 15 semester hours have been earned.
Admission to Candidacy
Graduate students in a program leading to the master’s degree, except those in Special Standing, should make application for admission to candidacy immediately following the completion of nine (9) semester hours of graduate credit. If application is not made by the time 15 hours are completed, the student may not be permitted to register for subsequent work until the application is approved. The requirements which must be met before approval of admission to candidacy are:
- the achievement of Full Standing.
- the completion of at least nine (9) semester hours of graduate credit with a minimum quality point average of 3.0.
- the written approval by the student’s advisory committee.
- the written approval of the chairperson of the major department.
- successful completion of any examination which may be required by the student’s department.
If the student’s application for admission to candidacy is not approved due to academic deficiencies, the student cannot continue graduate study with a major in any of the departments of the college in which he/she is studying.
A candidate for the master’s degree must normally complete at least 30 semester hours of credit in a program requiring a thesis and at least 33 semester hours in a nonthesis program. Nonthesis options are available in all departments of the College of Education; in the Departments of English in the College of Arts & Sciences, and in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science in the College of Engineering. The M.B.A. in the College of Business is a nonthesis program but requires only 30 hours. The master’s program in Exercise Science, Physical Education, and Wellness requires only 30 hours. The master’s program in Educational Psychology within the Department of Counseling and Psychology requires 30 hours for the non-thesis option and 33 hours for the thesis option.
At least 21 semester credits including the thesis shall be required at the 6000 level in a 30-hour program for the master’s degree; at least 23 semester credits at the 6000 level shall be required in a 33-hour master’s program. The remainder of the courses in the program of study may be at the 5000 level; however, not more than 30% of the courses in a student’s program of study may be in dually numbered 4000 (5000) courses. Courses below the 5000 level will not be counted toward a graduate degree; and, although they may appear on the written program as background requirements, these courses are not figured into degree requirements.
Requirements for a Major
A student’s program of study must reflect a reasonable concentration in related or interrelated courses. A department may require that all of the courses in a student’s program be taken in that department; or it may require that a major portion be taken in that department and allow for one or more minor areas of collateral study in other departments.
Transfer and Other Credit
Students who request to transfer graduate course credits from an accredited institution to Tennessee Tech must request that the institution send official transcripts directly to TTU. Official transcripts must include all grades.
The program department will determine, at its sole discretion, what transfer coursework is eligible for transfer to the student’s program of study.
The coursework transferred or accepted for credit toward a graduate degree must have a minimum grade of “B” in each course.
For all graduate degree programs, the department will determine, in its sole discretion, the number of transfer credits it will accept, provided the department’s decision is in compliance with SACSCOC Accreditation Standard 3.6.3.
Tennessee Tech will exclude grades earned in transferred courses in the calculation of grade point averages.
Tennessee Tech Policy #283 (General Graduate Transfer Credit Requirements) provides additional information on Transfer Credit.
When a thesis is required in a student’s program of study, no more than six (6) credit hours for Graduate Course 6990 (Master’s thesis) will be counted towards the degree. Thesis (and dissertation) credit is made available in increments of 3, 6, or 9 semester hours during any given semester (and in some departments as one  hour credit). A graduate student shall be required to be registered for at least one (1) course appropriate to the student’s degree objective in order to have access to computer equipment, laboratories, library, and other university facilities and resources even if the student is working in absentia on research and thesis. A graduate student shall be enrolled during the term in which the degree is awarded. When a student makes satisfactory progress in research and thesis, a grade of SP (Satisfactory Progress) will be assigned for credit earned. When satisfactory progress is not achieved, a grade of NP (No Progress) will be assigned; however, a grade of NP shall not be counted as having satisfied either program or degree requirements, and the student must register again for additional thesis (or dissertation) credit. Only grades of SP and NP shall be used to indicate a student’s progress in thesis or dissertation credit.
The College of Graduate Studies requires all graduate students to follow the “Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations” that is published on the College website. The College of Graduate Studies will review the graduate student’s thesis for formatting to ensure the thesis adheres to the Guide. The College will not review the paper’s content, spelling, or accuracy of the citation.
Once the graduate student’s advisory committee certificate approval page has been submitted to the College of Graduate Studies, the graduate student must submit the thesis electronically (through eTD ProQuest) to the Graduate School at least two (2) weeks prior to the close of the semester in which the degree is to be conferred (or at an earlier date if such is specified in the University calendar). Refer to the College of Graduate Studies website regarding requirements for electronic submission. Any thesis/dissertation that does meet the required standards will be returned to the student who will have one (1) week maximum to make corrections and resubmit. Failure to do so will result in ineligibility for graduation. All theses/dissertations that meet the required standards will be forwarded on for publication and the student will be eligible for graduation.
The graduate student’s failure to complete the thesis review and formatting process with the College by the posted deadline on the College calendar, will result in the graduate student’s ineligibilty to graduate.
A graduate student pursuing a thesis track master’s will be required to participate in a formal defense of his/her thesis.
Prior to scheduling the thesis defense, the graduate student must submit the thesis certificate of approval page to the College of Graduate Studies for format review and approval.
The graduate student is responsible for scheduling his/her thesis defense with his/her advisory committee to allow enough time to submit the defense results to the College of Graduate Studies by the deadline established by the College. Failure to defend the thesis by the deadline will prevent graduation.
A graduate student’s thesis defense is open to the public.
All the graduate student’s advisory committee members are required to attend the thesis or dissertation defense.
Failure to submit the graduate student’s thesis defense results to the College of Graduate Studies by the posted deadline on the College of Graduate Studies calendar will result in the graduate student’s ineligibility to graduate.
Most non-thesis graduate programs and some thesis graduate programs require that the graduate student successfully pass a Comprehensive Exam conducted by his/her advisory committee at or near the completion of his/her graduate program. Failure to submit the Comprehensive Exam results by the posted deadline on the College of Graduate Studies calendar will result in the graduate student’s ineligibilty to graduate.
Some non-thesis graduate programs have a capstone course or project course in which the final course completion is used in place of the Comprehensive Examination.
Any nonthesis program that comes before the Graduate School Executive Committee for consideration for approval must foster independent learning.
Second Master’s Degree
A student holding an earned master’s degree from Tennessee Tech or an accredited institution may qualify for a second master’s degree by completion of graduate work approved by the graduate student’s advisory committee, provided:
1. If the graduate student has previously earned a master’s degree at Tennessee Tech then a minimum of 21 semester hours taken at Tennessee Tech must be completed for a thesis second master’s degree or 24 semester hours if non-thesis.
2. If the graduate student has not previously earned a master’s degree at Tennessee Tech, a minimum of 24 semester hours taken at Tennessee Tech must be completed for a thesis second master’s degree or 27 semester hours if non-thesis.
3. The graduate student successfully completes all requirements prescribed in the specified graduate program.