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Home » 2022-2024 Graduate Bulletin » Policies » Graduate Degree Requirements

Graduate Degree Requirements


A student must earn a total of at least 30-semester credits (28 for advanced-standing MSW students) of graduate-level work from UW Oshkosh and any transfer institutions with regionally accredited graduate programs. At least 21 of these credits must be earned from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh or from other institutions having formal collaborative/cooperative agreements with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. 

Check with the appropriate graduate program or Graduate Studies Office for the minimum completion requirements for any degree, certificate, or Graduate Achievement Program (GAP). 


Students who have an earned master’s degree from any other regionally accredited institution may apply to a graduate program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Some credits earned as part of the first master’s degree program may be transferred in toward the second master’s degree at UW Oshkosh. Such credits (nine (9) maximum) are governed by the Office of Graduate Studies transfer policies found in this Bulletin and any policy to the program into which the credits are to be transferred. 

Before admission, applicants/students to a graduate program may request acceptance of up to nine (9) credits earned, including credits that applied to an external institution’s master’s degree. The credits requested will be evaluated by the admitting graduate program coordinator and the Office of Graduate Studies during the admission process. The result of the credit evaluation will be communicated to the student. 


A cumulative graduate grade point average of at least a “B” (3.00) must be earned on all work that applies to the graduate degree or program. A grade of F and its associated credits will not count toward any degree or program. Some programs do not allow grades less than “B” on required or degree/program courses. Check with the individual graduate program as some have other academic requirements for the degree, certificate or Graduate Achievement Program (GAP) completion. 


At least half of all graduate credits being applied to a master’s degree must be graduate-only 700-level courses. Consult the individual degree program(s) for what constitutes half of the master’s degree credits. Consult the Nursing and Educational Leadership and Policy programs for the number of 800-level courses necessary for the awarding of a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) or doctorate of education (Ed.D.), respectively. 


A total of no more than six (6) credits earned in variable content courses and independent study courses may apply to a master’s degree. Generally, graduate credits may not be earned by examination or by correspondence study. This policy is not intended to preclude the earning of credits by electronic, prior learning, or other distance education modes. 


Students must be Admitted to Candidacy after having earned a minimum of nine (9) but no more than 21-degree credits (varies by program). Admission to Candidacy requires a student to be in full standing, have completed all program deficiencies, and filed an Application for Admission to Candidacy form (the formal plan of study). Changes in the plan of study are made by filing a Candidacy Program Modification form and receiving approval from the faculty advisor, and/or the graduate program coordinator and the Director of Graduate Services, Office of Graduate Studies. 


The Culminating Experience Continuation Policy is for students who have completed all required course work but have not completed their culminating experience (i.e. thesis, clinical paper, field project). The purpose of this policy is to provide continued access to university faculty and resources (e.g., technology, library) necessary to complete the graduate degree. 

If the culminating experience is not completed, students have a one-semester grace period immediately following the semester in which the student enrolled in the culminating experience course. After that, students will be enrolled in the Culminating Experience Continuation course by the department until the culminating experience is completed or the student formally withdraws in writing from the program. 

Currently, graduate students register for their culminating experience for the required number of credits usually for their final semester of coursework. When students do not complete their culminating experience during the semester in which they are registered, they receive an “In Progress” grade until completion of the culminating experience. For some programs, students can maintain an “In Progress” grade for two (2) years past their expected graduation date; for other programs, the “In Progress” grade can be maintained for an additional five (5) years. With an “In Progress” grade, students have access to university resources including, but not limited to university faculty, technology, facilities, and the library. 

The Culminating Experience Continuation course is a zero-credit (0-credit) course with fees equivalent to one graduate credit at the program rate charged to the student. Completion is marked when the student has met all culminating experience requirements and has been approved for graduation by the department. Students wishing to appeal may do so following the normal university procedure for appeals. 


Each student must successfully demonstrate proficiency to integrate the knowledge of the discipline. The nature of this experience is determined by the individual Colleges and graduate programs subject to approval through the University’s curriculum approval processes. Examples of experiences that may meet this requirement include dissertations, theses, oral or written comprehensive examinations, clinical papers, field projects, field reports, national exams, or capstone courses. Programs may require more than one of the above experiences. 

Note: All research that deals with human participants, and/or animal subjects, and/or biohazards, must have the approval of the University Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Protection of Human Participants and/or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and/or the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) before conducting the research. See the policy statements and important information below. 


The primary role of the Institutional Review Board (IRB – is to ensure the ethical treatment of research participants. All research involving human participants must receive IRB approval in accordance with federal regulations set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration.  Research involving human subjects at UW Oshkosh will be guided by the ethical principles outlined in the 1979 Belmont Report: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. 


UW Oshkosh is committed to the humane care and use of animals for educational and research purposes. The utilization of animals is a privilege and the responsibility involved in the care and use of animals is a shared act. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC – oversees all vertebrate animal use sponsored by any unit of UW Oshkosh. A vertebrate is defined as any mammal (EXCEPT for human beings), cold-blooded animals such as fish, reptiles, and amphibians, and live eggs from birds and reptiles and other embryos therein. 

The Animal Care and Use Program is accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC International) and is managed in accordance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the AVMA Guidelines, and taxon-specific guidelines for wildlife. The IACUC’s oversight keeps UW Oshkosh in compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act Regulations and PHS Policy. 

 The IACUC oversees the following general categories of work: 

  1. All live vertebrate animal use sponsored by any unit of UW Oshkosh 
  2. All live vertebrate animal use in collaboration with another institution 
  3. All live vertebrate animal use sponsored by a non-affiliated unit at a UW Oshkosh site 

Specifically, the IACUC oversees animal use for research (including observational studies), teaching, entertainment, outreach, or exhibition at special events. Employees or students requesting the use or presence of service, assistance, or therapy animals on campus must contact Dean of Students office (students) or Equity and Affirmative Action (staff) for approval. 


The mission of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC – at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is to ensure, regardless of funding, that activities with biohazardous materials are conducted safely and responsibly.  To fulfill this commitment, the IBC is charged with reviewing and monitoring all research and teaching activities by faculty, staff, and students that utilize biological infectious agents, toxins of biological origin, human or nonhuman primate products (cell lines, tissues, blood products), and recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules.  The IBC will maintain compliance with the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines)and will use the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), 5th Edition, as an advisory guide. 

As a public institution, the University must also comply with regulations prescribed by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, including the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Dissertation or Thesis 

A dissertation or thesis is the formal, final written work (usually a manuscript) for some graduate programs and follows standards established by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Graduate Studies and are outlined in a format policy and style manual, available on the Graduate Studies website: 

A student engaging in a dissertation or thesis selects a research committee comprised of a chairperson (UW Oshkosh faculty member) and two graduate faculty members (with appropriate terminal degrees)** to guide, advise, and ultimately approve the dissertation or thesis. The student submits a research proposal to the committee members describing what is proposed and how it will be accomplished. Research proposal forms are available on the Graduate Studies website: The committee and graduate program coordinator review the proposal, assign the number of credits to be earned (usually three (3) to six (6) credits) and approve with final signatures. The proposal and requested documentation are forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval. The proposal should be submitted midterm prior to the term of graduation. Enrolling for dissertation or thesis credit is done either concurrently or separately from submitting the research proposal and requires a separate registration through the Registrar’s Office. Check with the graduate program or Graduate Studies Office to determine the appropriate time to register for dissertation or thesis credit. 

** – Note to department chairs, graduate program coordinators, and faculty: If anyone other than graduate faculty members are committee members, please submit a written rationale for the selection of this committee member and a curriculum vitae with the proposal. 

At the appropriate time, the degree candidate will defend the dissertation or thesis in an open, public oral presentation. The members of the committee preside over the defense and typically notify the student immediately after the presentation whether the defense was successful. 

One copy ( in PDF form) of the completed dissertation or thesis manuscript must be approved through the Office of Graduate Studies by the end of the 14th week in the semester in which the student intends to graduate (by the end of the 8th week of a summer session). This evaluation process in Graduate Studies consists of format approval, particularly of the front matter of the manuscript. All substantive revisions are to be requested by the committee. The manuscript approved by the committee will be considered complete in terms of writing, content, research, and substance once it is received by the Graduate Studies Office. The committee, along with the student, is responsible for ensuring the substance, accuracy, content, and necessary requirements of the work. 

There are fees associated with the printing, binding, and shipping of the completed manuscripts. The Graduate Studies Office identifies these costs on its website. 


The Faculty Senate Committee on the Assessment of Student Learning ( provides guidance for programs in terms of assessment plans, assessment reporting, and the selection of university-wide assessment instruments. At UW Oshkosh, assessment takes place at the course, program, and university levels to determine if students are meeting the university learning outcomes. Assessment results are shared in the Oshkosh Student Achievement Report designed to communicate the results of the many campus assessments. The committee adopted the following definition of assessment: a systematic means of ascertaining the fit between our expectations (what we intend) and students’ actual achievement of those expectations. The assessment process is guided by and anchored in intellectual curiosity about the collective efficacy of our educational practices (Peggy Maki, 2009). 

The graduate-degree-granting programs at UW Oshkosh have developed assessment plans that are integrated into the University assessment plan that has been approved by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Implementation of assessment began in the 1995-1996 academic year. 

Evaluation Criteria for [Graduate] Program Assessment Plans  

Assessment plans must meet the following expectations to be considered “well established”: 

  1. Program goals and intended student learning outcomes are developed and reflect the uniqueness of the program. 
  2. Systematic assessment of student learning is achieved by using multiple qualitative and quantitative measures and reflects the uniqueness of the academic program and discipline. 
  3. Assessment data is gathered from more than 3 direct measures and feedback is gathered from all key stakeholders (current students, faculty, alumni, employers of graduates, graduate schools, etc.). 
  4. Evidence of formal and effective feedback and improvement mechanisms are in place which include: a review process, engagement with all key stakeholders, and demonstration that the feedback has been used to improve curriculum, instruction, and learning. 
  5. Assessment plan is efficient and demonstrates an ease of administration in all aspects. 


Applying for Graduation/Completion 

All students planning to graduate or complete a degree, certificate, or Graduate Achievement Program (GAP) must apply to do so. Information about the graduation/completion application process is on the Graduate Studies Office website: Once submitted, the graduation/completion application is processed by the Graduate Studies Office. The application process must be completed no later than the end of the first week of a summer session or the end of the fourth week of a spring/fall semester in which the student intends to graduate/complete. Note that Graduate Achievement Program (GAP) and Certificate recipients do not participate in the commencement ceremony. 

Graduation/Completion Audit 

A graduation/completion audit is done in the Graduate Studies Office when all grades for the semester of intended graduation/completion have been submitted. Students whose records are incomplete (e.g., required courses still incomplete, official transcripts for transfer courses not on file, grades not recorded, missing research proposal forms, etc.) or who fail to meet degree requirements will be considered for graduation in a subsequent semester. Applications for graduation will be allowed to be moved to future semesters until the completion of a calendar year. After one year, the graduation/completion application will be inactivated. Subsequent reactivation requires contacting the Graduate Studies Office. 

Transcript and Diploma Processing 

Conferral review and posting of the degree/completion to the transcript may take four to six weeks after the official end of the 14-week term of the semester. The diploma/certificate will be mailed approximately four to six weeks after the official graduation date of the semester (end of 3-week interim, the 8-week summer term or the 14-week semester). 

Time to Degree Completion Requirements 

All academic requirements applying to a degree, including work transferred, must be completed within a seven-year time period. The College of Nursing has a five-year limit for their MSN and DNP programs. The Psychology program limit is four-years. Graduate Achievement Programs (GAP) and Certificates have a four-year limit. The time begins with the term in which the first course toward the degree/certificate/Graduate Achievement Program (GAP) was taken. Transfer credits from other schools (not UW Oshkosh) counted toward degree/program completion are also used to determine the “start” date. The term admitted to a program does not necessarily determine the beginning of the 4-, 5- or 7-year time limit. The degree/certificate/GAP period ends with the last day of the term in which the final requirement is completed. Any request for an extension of time to complete a degree or program should be made to the graduate program coordinator and may require condition(s) or qualifying experience(s) to receive extension approval. The Office of Graduate Studies is the final approval for an extension request. 


Commencement ceremonies are held at the end of the spring and fall 14-week terms. The student’s official graduation date will be the final day of classes of the 14-week fall or spring semester, 8-week summer session, or 3-week J- or May-term in which they finish the program requirements. Graduate students whose graduation date is at the end of the summer session (August) have two commencement ceremony options: 

  1. Participate in the preceding May: Applications for graduation are due by the end of the fourth week of the spring semester. Note — If the application is submitted by the spring deadline, the graduate’s name will appear in both the spring and fall commencement program. 
  2. Participate in the following December: Applications for graduation are due by the end of the first week of the summer session. 

Certificate and GAP students do not participate in commencement.