Mastering Out

Master’s Candidacy & Final Requirements

Note: This option is for students who cannot complete their PhD degree. Forms related to the Master's can be found below.

By advancing to candidacy, master's degree students officially submit their program of study to Graduate Studies, identify their faculty mentor(s), and state which master’s plan they will pursue. 

Master’s students are eligible to advance to candidacy when they have:
  • Passed at least half of the coursework required according to the program degree requirements.   Developed a program of study including all coursework taken and remaining for the degree.  These courses will be listed on the Candidacy Application, and passing/pending grades will be verified by Graduate Studies.  
  • Earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • The Graduate Coordinator or Graduate Advisor should advise students not to include courses on the candidacy that are not degree requirements.
  • Registered full-time or part-time in the current quarter, or the upcoming quarter if advancing in summer or between quarters.  
  • Master’s students may be registered part-time throughout their course of study with approval from their program and OUR.  
  • Plan I Thesis or Plan I MFA - Secured members for the thesis or MFA committee who are willing and qualified to provide mentorship.   
  • Plan II - The graduate program will assist students with selecting an approved committee.  Plan II committees are not reviewed for eligibility by Graduate Studies.  
Master's Candidacy Plans

Each master's degree program votes on and is approved to offer one or both of the Master's Plans (I & II).  Students may only use a candidacy plan approved for their program.  The plans differ in number of required units, coursework level requirements, committee eligibility, and final requirement.  Ask your Graduate Coordinator which candidacy plan your program uses, or check your Program Page

Master's Plan I and II regulations are located in Academic Senate DDR 520(c).  The requirements below do not include 

  • Master's Plan I (Thesis)

•  Plan I programs must included a minimum of 30 units, but programs may specify requirements in addition to those listed here.
    -  At least 12 of the 30 units must be graduate work in the major field.
•  A committee of at least three members must be appointed to read and evaluate the master's thesis.  
   - Committee membership must be reviewed and approved by Graduate Studies - see Thesis & Dissertation Committees below.
   - Each thesis must be prepared in the form prescribed by the Graduate Council, and submitted electronically to Graduate Studies.
•  MFA programs use the MFA Candidacy - Plan I, and committees must be reviewed and approved by Graduate Studies, but MFA students do not submit the thesis to Graduate Studies.
   - The MFA committee chair submits the MFA Report to Graduate Studies, notifying them of the results of the final requirements.  
•  Programs may specify requirements in addition to those listed above to be completed by their students under either plan.

  • Master's Plan II (Exam/Capstone Project)

•  Plan II programs must included a minimum of 36 units, but programs may specify requirements in addition to those listed here.
•  At least 18 units must be graduate courses in the major field.
   - Not more than 9 units of research (299 or equivalent) may be used to satisfy the 18-unit requirement. 
The final requirements may include a comprehensive exam, a project, or a capstone course.
   - These are evaluated by a committee approved by the student's graduate program.  
   - The committee chair submits the results of the final requirement to Graduate Studies using the Master's Plan II Report.

Master's Final Requirements
  • Master's Thesis
    • A master's thesis is an original scholarly work, about a specific subject in the field, written under the guidance of the major professor.  The thesis synthesizes the student's learning, research, and development in the graduate program.  An eligible thesis committee reads and evaluates the thesis, and if approved, the student submits the thesis electronically to Graduate Studies.  Information about the filing process is available on Filing Your Thesis or Dissertation.  
  • Master's Comprehensive Exam or Capstone Project

After a Plan II student has advanced to candidacy, they are eligible to take the comprehensive exam or complete the capstone project. The format, content, and timing are determined by the student's graduate program, and the program is responsible for evaluating and reporting the results to Graduate Studies.  

The Policy on UC Davis Master's Degree Capstone Requirement includes four standards for master's capstones:

  1. Capstone projects should be synthetic, tying together two or more areas of specific content that would typically be the subject of a class or a sequence of classes
  2. Capstone projects can be individual or group-based exercises. If a project is group-based, the individual student’s achievements and contributions should be assessed through robust means.
  3. The report should be evaluated by at least two reviewers; and at least one of them should have no direct vested interest in the success of the student
  4. To ensure the consistent quality and scope of capstone projects, there should be a single coordinator or adviser who judges the appropriateness of planned projects and their timelines, following guidelines established by the program faculty.

Candidacy for the Master's Degree-Thesis Plan I

Candidacy for the Master's Degree-Comprehensive Exam/Project Plan II

External Committee Membership Application

Reconstitution of Committee Membership Requests