Master’s Program


researcher adjusting scientific equipment

There are two options within our master’s program, both of which lead to the MS degree: the thesis option and the coursework option.

For complete information about each, see our Graduate Student Handbook and the UA Graduate Catalog.

Plan I (Thesis Option)

The Plan I master’s degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours — 24 hours of coursework and 6 hours of thesis research (CH 699):

  • Four lecture courses (12 credit hours) are required for this degree option. At least two of these courses must be in the student’s major area, and at least one must be outside the major area.
  • In addition to formal coursework, students will generally register for 10 hours of advanced research technique courses in their major area. Students will also take at least 6 hours of thesis research (CH 699).
  • Students will present a research seminar in their second year prior to the oral defense of their thesis. Students will register for the seminar course (CH 586) in the semester that they give their seminar.

Each student will meet with their thesis committee in the first semester of their third semester (September of the second year for students starting in the fall semester) to present an initial research review (IRR). In the IRR, the student will describe the progress made on the thesis project to his or her committee. The student will also discuss the work remaining to complete the thesis research.

Upon completing their research, the student will prepare a thesis according to the UA Graduate School’s guidelines. The thesis should be distributed to the thesis committee two weeks prior to the oral defense.

The student’s research advisor and thesis committee will read the thesis and meet to hear an oral defense of the thesis. The oral defense will serve as the comprehensive exam for the MS degree.

Plan II (Coursework Option)

The Plan II option requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework:

  • Six lecture courses (18 hours) are required. Four of these courses will be in the student’s major, and two will be outside the major area of study.
  • The remaining 12 hours of the program will be made up of the seminar course (CH 586) and research techniques courses in the student’s major area.
  • Each student in this program will present a seminar on a literature topic not related to his or her research during their second year in the program. This seminar will serve as the comprehensive exam for the Plan II master’s degree.

Students completing a terminal Plan II master’s must have either completed the IRR research review or hold a short final defense with their graduate committee. The student will complete a short written document and discuss their research with their committee.