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University Catalog

Office of the Registrar

Graduate Student Regulations and Policies

All regulations are subject to change without notice by action of various administrative officers, the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees, and the appropriate departments and divisions. Published regulations are the minimum requirements for any advanced degree.

Admission Regulations

Admission to Candidacy

Time spent in graduate study or accumulation of credit hours will not necessarily allow a student to become a candidate for an advanced degree. Admission to candidacy is an expression of the judgment of those who have observed the work and reviewed the credentials of the student, and deem the student worthy of the opportunity to complete the work for an advanced degree. Admission to candidacy for an advanced degree requires a specified procedure for specific degrees.

Admission Status Categories

Advanced-degree applicants may be admitted to the University of Wyoming in one of the following categories:

  1. Admitted Graduate Student: Signifies the applicant has been accepted by the university and by a major department to work toward an advanced degree.
  2. Graduate Student Admitted with Conditions: Signifies the applicant did not meet the formal admission requirements but has sufficient potential that the university and the major department are convinced that the student will be successful as an advanced-degree candidate. Conditions are usually placed on such students in the form of performance criteria for the first one or two semesters. If the conditions of admission are not met within the specified time period, the student may be denied admission to the university graduate program and the degree program.

The student and an adviser in the major department should monitor progress toward meeting the established conditions. The department is responsible for notifying the university when all conditions have been met.

Students should be certain they understand their admission status.

Re-enrollment or Re-admission

Any student not registered at UW during the previous 12 months must be readmitted.

A departmental request for readmission must be submitted to the college dean in writing.

Students are required to be continuously enrolled unless a formal leave of absence has been approved.

When enrollment is interrupted for one or more years, without an approved leave, students are automatically reclassified as inactive students and must reapply for admission.

Students are encouraged to review previously submitted programs of study. Coursework older than six years old will need to be petitioned.

Students are encouraged to review previously submitted  committees.

Students who do not re-enroll immediately after being readmitted may become inactive again and will need to repeat the process.

Academic Record Regulations

Transfer Credit Available to Graduate Students

With committee and college approval, a student may submit up to a total of 12 pre-admission hours that may be an accumulation of non-degree, reserved, and/or transfer hours. The maximum number of hours allowed from each category is as follows: 12 non-degree graduate, 6 reserved, and 9 transfer hours. A student may elect to utilize a combination of the three different areas to total the 12 credits allowed (e.g. 6 non-degree hours, 3 transfer hours, and 3 reserved hours). Please review the individual sections of the bulletin that cover the specific policies for non-degree hours, reserving coursework for graduate credit, and transfer credit.

To transfer hours earned at another institution to a graduate program at UW, the student must provide an official transcript from the institution where the credits were earned. This official transcript must be part of the student's permanent file. The student must also provide evidence that the course was approved for graduate credit at the institution where the course was taken.

No more than 9 semester hours that have been transferred from another accredited institution may be used for meeting the credit hour requirements of a master's student's program. Transferred hours must carry a B or better grade and will not reduce the residence requirements. Transferred credit will be subject to the approval of the appropriate major professor and the college dean and must be completed prior to approval of a master's degree program of study for which the credit is to apply. Transfer hours taken for satisfactory/unsatisfactory (or pass/fail) grades are not acceptable on a program of study.

Coursework hours approved for transfer from another college or university are considered as part of the 12-credit-hour pre-admission course limitation for master's students.

Hours transferred from other institutions for a doctoral program must carry a letter grade of B (3.000) or better (A=4.000). Doctoral (Ed.D. and Ph.D.) candidates may transfer up to 48 credit hours of such coursework, only four of which can be thesis research. Transfer hours for doctoral students are not considered as part of the 12-hour pre-admission course limitation.

Correspondence Courses and Credit by Examination

Correspondence courses and credit by examination courses are not acceptable on graduate programs of study.

Second Baccalaureate Degrees

A student working toward a second baccalaureate degree is subject to all regulations concerning undergraduates and is not considered a graduate student. Students requesting to reserve coursework for graduate credit must be able to complete their undergraduate degree within 12 months of the request. NOTE: Only six hours of undergraduate coursework reserved for graduate credit will be allowed for consideration in a graduate degree program.

Requirements for a second degree are considered separate from the first degree. Hours from the first master's degree may not be used for completing the hours toward the second master's. Hours from the first doctoral degree may not be used for completing the hours toward the second doctorate. Hours from an earned doctorate may not be used in a subsequent master's degree.

Grade Point Average

A UW cumulative grade point average of at least 3.000 is required for graduate degrees. Hours for which a C was earned may be balanced by a corresponding number of hours for which an A was earned. Departments and divisions have the option of indicating subject areas in which they will not accept grades of C for credit regardless of accumulated grade point average. No credit will be allowed toward an advanced degree for coursework in which a grade lower than C is earned.

A graduate student enrolled at the university shall be placed on academic probation at the end of a semester or summer session when his or her graduate cumulative UW grade point average in 4000-level or higher courses is below 3.000.  Students who fail to bring their graduate GPA to 3.000 and remove themselves from probation after one semester or summer session will be suspended from the university. A suspended student may petition their academic program for reinstatement to the same degree program. A reinstated student will be on probation and may be subject to other performance criteria as specified by the dean of the affected department.

The above GPA requirement is considered to be a minimum requirement.   Individual departments or programs may modify these minimum performance standards and establish department- or program-specific criteria for satisfactory academic progress.   A graduate student may be dismissed from a degree program for lack of satisfactory academic progress, as determined by the department or program offering the degree.

Grades earned in coursework that are not included in the approved program of study for each candidate for an advanced degree will not be included in the accumulated grade point average to determine eligibility for an advanced degree. These courses are, however, included in the GPA as listed on the academic record if the courses are numbered 4000 or above, and are used in determining probation/suspension.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grades

All courses taken to fulfill the requirements for the degree program must be taken for letter grade (A-F) except those courses given for S/U only.

The grade of S (satisfactory) is interpreted to include grades A-C and the grade of U (unsatisfactory) to include grades D-F on the conventional grade scale for courses numbered less than 5000 (for courses 5000 or above, the grade of S is interpreted to included grades A and B). Credit hours of S/U courses are counted as hours attempted toward graduation. However, neither the S nor U grade carries grade points and neither will be included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average.

The faculties of the various colleges shall determine the number of credit hours of S that may be used to satisfy degree requirements in their programs. They may also place restrictions upon the use of S credits to satisfy college or major requirements. In addition, they may designate particular courses in their colleges as courses to be offered for S/U only.

The grade of S in thesis and dissertation research is a judgment that the student is adequately engaged in the required research objective. It in no way implies that the final thesis or the thesis defense will be judged of sufficient quality for the award of the appropriate degree.

Incomplete Grades

The incomplete grade (I) is a temporary grade used under circumstances where awarding a grade would be unjust or not reflective of the student's actual performance in a course. Time allowed for completing course requirements will normally not exceed 120 calendar days beyond the end of the semester in which the I was given. The dean of a college may designate certain research courses where the 120-day limit may be extended by the instructor.

The I will revert to an F if the final grade for the course is not received in the Office of the Registrar by the date indicated on the authorization. Students receiving an incomplete in any course(s) listed in their program of study must have the incomplete removed by the end of the semester in which they turn in their intent to graduate. If the incomplete is not removed, the student will not graduate that semester.

Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty and scholarly misconduct will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty is an act attempted or performed that misrepresents one's involvement in an academic task in any way, or permits another student to misrepresent the latter's involvement in an academic task by assisting in the misrepresentation (UW Regulation 6-802).

If academic dishonesty has been established, the offending student shall receive a failing grade for the course in question. If two such acts have been recorded at different times or in different courses, the student shall be suspended from the university in accordance with UW Regulation 6-802. These actions shall not preclude the imposition of other sanctions by university officers including the loss of benefits from programs, scholarships, and other opportunities normally afforded students.

Degree Revocation
UW Regulation 8-254

The University of Wyoming is a state higher education institution whose Trustees are legislatively empowered to confer degrees on students who have earned them, upon the recommendation of the faculty. The Board of Trustees recognizes that there may be instances where a degree is awarded to an individual who, upon review, has not properly completed all requirements for the degree. In such instances, the Board of Trustees may revoke the degree. This regulation establishes the process for such revocation.

Grounds for revoking a degree include convincing evidence that the degree recipient failed to complete the requirements for the degree that were in effect at the time of the degree conferral. Included in this category is evidence that the candidate engaged in academic misconduct serious enough to negate bona fide completion of one or more substantive degree requirements. Additional information can be found at

Course Numbering for Graduate Credit

Courses offered for graduate credit are distinguished by number as follows:

4000-4999 are primarily for junior and senior students, but also may be used as part of some graduate programs of study

5000-5999 are primarily for graduate students

Courses numbered 5000 or above may be taken by undergraduate students having the necessary prerequisites. If a course is filled, graduate students will have preference and undergraduates may be asked to relinquish their place in the course. Graduate students may enroll in courses numbered 1000-3999 to remove undergraduate deficiencies, but only those numbered 4000 and above will be computed into the graduate GPA and be allowed for graduate credit.

Dual Listed Courses

If a course is dual listed at the 4000/5000 level, the course must be taken at the 5000 level to receive graduate credit regardless of whether the course is in the student's primary program area.

The syllabus for a dual listed course must specifically differentiate expectations, outcomes and assessment between the 4000 and 5000-level components, clearly describing the additional effort needed for graduate level credit. This may include but is not limited to intellectual skills, discipline-specific competencies and challenging learning outcomes. For example, students enrolled in the 5000-level course may be required to lead discussion sessions, submit a portfolio, write a paper or may be involved in a service learning component, internship or collaborative assignment designed to provide experience in applying course information in different contexts.

Students enrolled in the 5000-level course will be expected to demonstrate greater sophistication in content expertise, inquiry, creativity, communication, problem solving, analytic reasoning and/or collaborative learning compared with those enrolled in the 4000 course.

Courses Not Applicable Toward Advanced Degrees

Only courses at the 4000- or 5000-level may be counted for graduate credit. However, some 4000- and 5000-level courses may not be applicable toward undergraduate or graduate degrees. These courses are listed below:

**** 5959. Enrichment Studies in ___. (Any course numbered 5959 is not applicable toward UW degrees.)

EDUC 4740. Field Studies in ___. (Any course in the College of Education numbered 4740 is not applicable toward UW degrees.)

CNSL 5740. Continuing Education in ____.

KIN/HLED 4074. Field Studies in ____.

HLED 4970. Field Experience in Health Education.

Non-Degree Hours

A student may request that up to 12 hours of graduate-level coursework, taken during the student's graduate, non-degree status, be used toward a program of study should the student choose to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Wyoming. This would be subject to the approval of the student's graduate committee and the college dean. These hours can be affected by other pre-admission hours.

Outreach Courses

Outreach courses, to carry graduate credit, must satisfy achievement criteria acceptable to Academic Affairs and must be taken under the auspices of UW, or involve study completed at an off-campus center.

In-Residence Coursework (Residency)

In-residence coursework includes courses and/or research work on the UW Laramie campus, at an approved UW off-campus course site, and/or research work done for credit in the field under the direction of a UW faculty member.

The minimum number of semester credit hours that must be earned on the UW Laramie campus or at an approved UW setting for a particular degree program shall be determined by the individual colleges. In no case shall these minimum numbers of credit hours be less than 21 hours beyond the bachelor's degree for the master's degree, 21 hours beyond the master's degree for the educational specialist degree, or 24 hours beyond the bachelor's degree for the doctoral degree.

In computing the in-residence requirements for the Plan A thesis and doctoral degrees, credit earned working on the thesis or dissertation shall apply.

Limitation of 4000-level Coursework Hours

Beginning with students admitted to the spring 2007 semester, only 12 credit hours of 4000-level coursework will be permitted on the graduate program of study.

Repetition of Courses

No more than two courses (total of six credit hours) available for graduate credit may be repeated by students at the graduate level. This regulation does not apply to those courses carrying variable credit (e.g., research or independent study). Variable credit courses are considered repeated only when so certified in writing by the instructor and the registrar.

Time Allowance and Limitations

Master's students have six calendar years to complete their degrees from the beginning of the first course taken and listed on the program of study. Doctoral candidates have four calendar years after the successful completion of their preliminary examination to complete their degree.

Continuous Enrollment

Once admitted, all degree seeking graduate students must maintain continuous enrollment. Unless a formal leave of absence is approved, all students should maintain at least one hour of continuous enrollment in the semester or session they expect to receive the degree. Students should maintain enrollment for two of the three academic semesters. Reactivation will be required if the student has not enrolled in classes within the previous 12 months. Contact your department to investigate your status. The department will contact the Office of the Registrar to initiate reactivation. Students who have been inactive for a long span of time should also investigate the status of their committees, programs of study, and time to degree status. If a summer-to-summer only enrolling student intends to finish his/her degree and graduate during a fall or spring semester, he or she must be enrolled for the appropriate number of hours, as required of all students, during the semester of intended graduation. International students' enrollment status is monitored by the office of International Students and Scholars and the office should be contacted for more information.

Research, Investigations, or Independent Study

Courses such as Individual Problems; Special Problems; Research in .....; Investigations in .....; etc. may not be used to develop information or material that will be submitted as a thesis or dissertation.

Reserving Coursework for Graduate Credit

Approved graduate level courses taken prior to completing the baccalaureate degree, but not part of that degree's requirements, may be applied to the master's or doctoral program with the approval of the student's committee. Approval for reserving the coursework is rendered jointly by the adviser and college dean, and applies only to courses previously reserved for graduate credit.

If a course is dual listed at the 4000/5000-level, the course must be taken at the 5000-level to receive graduate credit. Each 4000- or 5000-level course must be reserved for graduate credit by completing the Request to Reserve Coursework for Graduate Credit form, obtained online at The form must be completed and submitted to the Office of the Registrar by midterm of the semester in which the coursework is taken. 

These courses will appear on the undergraduate transcript with a notation that they have been reserved for graduate credit.

NOTE: Students will only be allowed to transfer six hours of coursework that has been reserved for graduate credit into their degree program.

Petitions and Appeals

The University of Wyoming, as a fully-accredited public institution of higher education, must comply with general laws, regulations, and principles of fairness, uniformity, and accountability. Exceptions to uniform application of general regulations are justified only in extraordinary circumstances. Exceptions to regulations may be petitioned by submitting the appropriate form to the college dean. If any of the signers recommend that the petition be denied, the registrar may deny the exception, make further inquiries, or refer the matter to the provost for direction. If all the signers recommend that the exception be granted, the registrar may concur (and process the exception) or may deny the exception and refer the matter to the provost for direction. If the petition is denied by the registrar, the student may elect to pursue the petition with the provost.

The Graduate Student Appeals Board (GSAB) was established to provide an appellate body to review appeals of graduate students concerning retention in graduate programs, employment as graduate assistants, and charges of academic dishonesty or scientific misconduct. The GSAB will not hear appeals of course grades or charges of academic dishonesty associated with a course (these appeals will be handled by the procedures of the college in which the course is offered). Appeals emanating from Plan B, thesis, or dissertation research will be heard by the GSAB even though thesis and dissertation research are designated by course numbers. Policies and procedures for graduate student appeals are modeled after those used by the University Board of Student Appeals.

The GSAB will not hear appeals of course grades or charges of academic dishonesty associated with a course other than a research course (i.e. thesis, non-thesis, or dissertation research). Policies and procedures concerning appeals may be found on the Graduate Student Resources web site.

Degree Completion Regulations

Declaring a Graduation Date

An Anticipated Graduation Date form must be filed for the semester in which graduation is planned. This form puts the student on the list for graduation. If graduation does not occur during the projected semester, the student must submit a new form no later than the deadline date for the new final semester. By the designated deadline, students who are entering their semester of graduation should:

  1. Download the Anticipated Graduation Form from the Office of the Registrar website and submit the completed form to the Office of the Registrar.
  2. Pay their associated graduation fees (diploma and/or certificate fee plus the digitizing fee if thesis/dissertation is involved) and retain receipt.

If discrepancies are found during the degree check, the Degree Analyst in the Office of the Registrar will contact the student/chair with instructions for resolution.

Following the student's defense, the student will submit a signed Report on Final Examination form to the Office of the Registrar. All students whose programs require a Thesis/Dissertation must submit the document to ProQuest before the last day of classes. Once the final examination period is over, Degree Analysts will review the CAPP audit to verify that any discrepancies have have been corrected, final grades on any remaining coursework have been posted, and all required forms/documents have been submitted. Once all requirements have been met, the degree will be awarded.

Program of Study

Unless otherwise specified, each student must submit a program of study to the Office of the Registrar for approval. The program of study form is available online at The completed form should be returned with all required attachments to the Office of the Registrar. Degree Analysts will transcribe the program into a CAPP audit, which constitutes an agreement between the student, the student's committee, and the university wherein the minimum coursework requirements for that student's degree are listed. The program should be filed no later than the beginning of the student's second semester (or second Summer Session if enrolling only in summers). No master's student will be a candidate for a degree until his/her program is approved by the head of the appropriate department and the college dean. Master's degree candidacy occurs with the approval of the program of study. Candidacy in the doctorate occurs upon certification of successful completion of the preliminary examination.

Some degree programs require more hours of credit than the minimum requirement of the university. Students should consult their advisers as well as the college and department sections in this bulletin. The program filed must include the appropriate minimum number of semester hours of graduate credit required. Changes to the approved program must be petitioned on the Office of the Registrar's Request for Change in Graduate Program form.


Examinations may be required of any graduate student or advanced-degree candidate at such time or of such nature as the department or the student's graduate committee may require. It is standard procedure for doctoral students (Ph.D. and Ed.D. students) to be given a preliminary examination, and for final examinations to be conducted for both master's and doctoral students. It is common for the nature of these exams to differ from one academic unit to another.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination will be held at least 15 weeks prior to the final examination. The preliminary examination may not be given before:

(a) the research tool requirements, if any, have been met and certification approved; (b) at least 30 hours of coursework have been completed; and (c) the doctoral program of study has been approved. The format and conduct of this examination shall be the responsibility of the student's committee, in line with any departmental policies (see specific department).

Following the completion of the departmental preliminary examination, the Report on Preliminary Examination must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar regardless if the student passed or failed. The favorable vote of the majority of the student's graduate committee members will be accepted as passing. In case of failure, the student may attempt the examination once more after not less than one nor more than four semesters have elapsed. When the preliminary examination has been successfully completed, and the report of the committee is on file in the Office of the Registrar, the student is considered a doctoral student admitted to candidacy for the degree. At this time, the doctoral candidate has four years to complete the degree process.

Final Examination

The final examination may not be held until after the beginning of the semester or session in which coursework is completed. Two weeks before the final examination, please make public the proposed date, time, and place of the examination. The committee may require the candidate to take a written examination as well as an oral examination. The oral and/or written examination should be held by the student's graduate committee at least 10 days before the end of the term of graduation.

The written vote of each member of a candidate's committee must be on record in the Office of the Registrar on the Report of Final Examination form, indicating the majority of the committee members' approval, before any candidate will be recommended for an advanced degree. A student failing his/her final examination may retake the examination once after a reasonable period of time has elapsed.

Graduate Committee

A student's graduate committee is appointed by the college dean and is based on the recommendation of the department or division chair or head. The committee functions to guide the student in coursework selection, the degree project construction, and requirements completion of the degree. All committees will have at least one member from the appropriate department/division as chairperson and a member from outside the major department/division.

The Master's committee, usually constructed by the student and his or her major professor in consultation with the department chair or division head, consists of at least three members: the chair of the committee (the major professor) from the appropriate department or division, a faculty member of a department or division other than the one awarding the degree (the outside  member), and a third committee member who is usually from the student's home department, program, or division. An individual with an off-campus affiliation, an external committee member, may serve as an optional, fourth voting participant in a Master's committee with the approval of the major professor and the department head or departmental designee. The external member of the committee is a faculty member at a peer institution or an individual holding professional expertise that will contribute to the committee. Such an appointment pertains exclusively to work on the Master's committee and assumes that the external member would be able to participate fully in the essential components of the degree-granting process. The external member cannot replace the outside member.

Doctoral committees will consist of at least five members, no fewer than three of whom must be from the candidate's major department or division. Every committee must designate a committee chair (the major professor) and an outside member both of whom must be members of the UW faculty. The outside member is defined as a UW faculty member holding an appointment in a division or college other than the one in which the candidate will receive the doctoral degree. An individual with an off-campus affiliation may serve on graduate committees as an external member with the approval of the major professor and the department head or departmental designee. The external member of the committee is a faculty member at a peer institution or an individual holding an earned doctorate whose expertise will contribute to the dissertation committee. Such an appointment pertains exclusively to work on the dissertation committee and assumes that the external member would be able to participate fully in the essential components of the dissertation process. The external member cannot replace the outside member.

The committee will serve in an advisory capacity for development of the student's coursework and research programs and must approve the official program of study filed with the Office of the Registrar. The committee will also determine pass or fail on the preliminary examination, approve or disapprove the dissertation or project report, and will conduct the final examination.

The doctoral committee must be on file with the Office of the Registrar before the program of study form is submitted. Changes in committee membership or major professor assignment can be requested at any time by the department/division head. This is normally done in consultation with the student and committee chair.

Language or Other Tool Requirements for Doctoral Candidates

The prospective Ph.D. student should refer to the specific department in which he/she desires to major to ascertain what languages or research tools are required. Certification of a language or tool, if required, will be made by the appropriate agency or department of the university to the Office of the Registrar when proficiency requirements have been met to fulfill the tool requirements. Students may demonstrate proficiency on a standardized language examination prepared by the Educational Testing Service, or by receiving at least a grade of B in a course (or courses) specified by a department on this campus or on a reading test administered by the department. It will be each student's responsibility to see that certification of proficiency for tool requirements is made. Coursework certification may be made from transcripts filed by the student with the Office of the Registrar.

Report on Final Examination

This form provides documentation from the student's committee that the student has passed the Final Examination/Defense. If applicable, it also indicates the committee has approved the thesis/dissertation and the student agrees to make publicly available via ProQuest. This form must be on file with the office of the prior to graduation.

Students wishing to embargo/copyright or otherwise delay release of their thesis/dissertation must have previous authorization of the college dean on file in the Office of the Registrar.

Survey of Earned Doctorates

The university requires the Survey of Earned Doctorates and the Report on Final Examination form be submitted on or before the date established by the Office of the Registrar for fulfilling the requirements for advanced degrees each semester. The survey  (for registration with the National Research Council) is available on the Graduate Student Resources Web site. All Ph.D. students must complete this survey.

Thesis or Dissertation

The candidate shall submit an electronic thesis or dissertation showing by its form and organization the candidate's ability to write acceptably and use the language. The thesis or dissertation must be approved by the student's graduate committee. Approval shall be indicated using the Report of Final Examination form. No attempt will be made to evaluate the thesis or dissertation in terms of credit hours. The thesis or dissertation must meet the standards established by the University Libraries, ProQuest Information and Learning, and be approved by the committee chair. It must be submitted to the candidate's committee at least three weeks prior to the final examination. The thesis or dissertation must be available for inspection by any other member of the faculty who may wish to examine it.

Digitizing Requirement

All graduate students accept as a condition of enrollment that completed theses and dissertations will be published through ProQuest Information and Learning. This involves a special fee. The appropriate form for submitting the thesis/dissertation is available when submitting the project electronically through ProQuest Information and Learning.

Patenting or Copyright by UW

In some cases, where significant university funds or resources have been used in dissertation research, the university may claim an interest in patenting or copyrighting the results. When this seems likely, the student (or the student's major professor) should consult with the college dean or the vice president for research.

Classified or Proprietary Research

The process of research in graduate education is one of free and open inquiry involving the student and faculty. Final examinations for graduate degrees are open to all faculty, and theses and dissertations are accessible to the public upon acceptance by the university unless embargoed as approved in advance.

For the purposes of this policy, classified research is defined as research that has a security classification established by a federal agency. Classified research projects also require approval of the trustees before being initiated. Proprietary research is defined as research for which the sponsor requires a delay in publication.

With the foregoing principle and definitions as guidance, the following policies will be used regarding use of classified and proprietary research for theses and dissertations:

Classified research cannot be used for a thesis or dissertation.

Proprietary research may be used for theses and dissertations. However, any delay caused by the proprietary nature of the research must be alleviated before the thesis or dissertation is submitted to the Office of the Registrar. Such delays cannot exceed six months without the approval of the college dean. Delays greater than 12 months in length will be approved only in unusual circumstances unless embargoed as approved in advance by the college dean. Sponsors of proprietary research should be aware that theses and dissertations are accessible to the public upon acceptance.

Format for Utilization of Journal Articles in Thesis and Dissertations

The master's thesis and doctoral dissertation are integral components of the graduate learning experience. Writing the thesis or dissertation not only sharpens vital communication skills but also provides the opportunity to expand upon research detail, include unpublished results, and engage in creative speculation and synthesis of research outcomes to a degree greater than normally allowed by journal editors.  

For many disciplines, publication of student research in peer-reviewed journals is a hallmark of successful graduate education. It validates the significance of the scholarly results and is beneficial for student, mentor, and the institution. To encourage publication of thesis or dissertation results and to avoid requiring degree candidates to recreate thesis or dissertation chapters from peer-reviewed publications, the university permits the utilization of published papers as the foundation for theses and dissertations subject to the following conditions:

  • The publications must be refereed and must have been accepted for publication in scholarly journals of high quality. The source should be cited in the comprehensive introductory chapter.
  • The publications must be written by the student. Editorial oversight by the mentor and committee is allowable and desirable; however, the mentor and committee have the responsibility to ensure that the student is the main author.
  • If there is more than one publication, the articles submitted must form a coherent whole, having a well-defined intellectual focus and advancing novel contributions along a clearly identified line of inquiry.
  • For multi-authored articles, the contribution of each author must be clearly stated in the preface or introduction to the thesis or dissertation.

A comprehensive, cohesive, and coherent introduction and discussion must be incorporated as separate chapters. These chapters should summarize the current state of knowledge and the rationale for the research. They should clarify how each chapter is interconnected and provide a meaningful synthesis and discussion of chapter results as part of a coherent whole.

Appendices can be attached to include expanded methodology, unpublished data, tables, etc. Where appropriate, the appendices may be in electronic formats, provided the data are readily accessible to the international scholarly community.

An abstract is not sufficient to address these criteria.

Graduate Degree Regulations

Master's Candidates

The functional and contractual document for the individual student master's degree is the program of study. It includes a declaration that the student will pursue a particular project plan: either a Plan A thesis or a Plan B non-thesis. Once the program of study has been approved for a master's student, the student advances to candidacy. After the student's program of study has been filed with the college, the approvals of the major professor and the college dean are required to transfer from one project plan type to another. If such a change is made, some credit under the original program of study may not meet requirements of the new program of study. The master's program of study, whether a declared thesis or non-thesis project plan, must include a minimum of 30 hours of graduate credit.

Current policy specifically requires a culminating defense for Plan A master's programs but does not address a similar requirement for non-thesis, Plan B programs.

Recognizing that plan A and B programs are academically equivalent and that a capstone event is an integral component of the graduate learning experience. Plan B programs also require an oral defense.

The defense structure and format is flexible but it should allow opportunity for the student to demonstrate content comprehension and application, critical and quantitative analysis, creative thinking, problem solving, synthesis, and evaluation.

Following the defense, regardless of the outcome, the student will submit a Report of Final Examination form to the Office of the Registrar. This form is available on the Graduate Student Resources Web site.

Plan A Master's

This program type must reflect a minimum of 26 hours of acceptable graduate coursework and four hours of Thesis Research credit (course number 5960). The Plan A thesis option accommodates original research, although the degree of originality and the definition thereof is sometimes program-specific. The planning, development, and production of the thesis is guided by the committee chair and the graduate committee.

The thesis is the final, written product of the project. General required guidelines for preparing a thesis are available in the "Thesis and Dissertation Format Guide." The thesis must be submitted to the student's committee at least two weeks before the intended date of final examination. To finalize the master's program and project, an electronic copy of the thesis is submitted to ProQuest and the Report of Final Examination is filed in the Office of the Registrar.

The electronic copy must meet the standards established by the faculty and those of the University Libraries. This copy  submitted to ProQuest will ultimately be deposited in the University Libraries. Each student should normally plan to produce at least three copies of his/her thesis: one for the thesis director, one for the department, and one to retain for personal use.

Plan B Master's

This program type carries a minimum of 30 hours of coursework, but some variants require more than 30 hours of credit (see specific program requirements in this catalog). At least 14 of these hours must be in the student's major field. The student's committee in specific programs may modify this requirement. The Plan B non-thesis program type differs from the thesis program type in that it may include additional hours of coursework instead of thesis hours. It permits a wider distribution of courses and permits a wider array of possible final products than the Plan A thesis program type. For example, the Plan B project may resemble a thesis, but the topic is not research or original. The non-thesis project may take the form of a business plan or a professional portfolio. The Plan B can be a paper, however a paper is not necessary (see the next paragraph). Each academic unit that engages in Plan B non-thesis activities often has its own set of principles that guide students in that unit.

Most, but by no means all, of the academic units that have students pursuing master's degrees in the Plan B non-thesis category have the students prepare a paper, or sometimes two papers, as their final project. In the selection of a subject and preparation of the paper(s), the student shall be guided by the adviser or, in some academic units, by the instructor(s) in charge of the course(s) connected to the paper(s). The paper(s) should present the results of study and at a level of scholastic quality commensurate with a Plan A thesis project. The Plan B non-thesis is different from the Plan A thesis in that it is not an in-depth research project. The student and his or her adviser often, but not always, decide if a project will be Plan A or Plan B. Academic units have principles that guide students in this selection. Many units have rules that precisely dictate the type of program and project a student can conduct.

The format for the Plan B non-thesis paper should follow that of the Plan A thesis. However, Plan B non-thesis paper titles do not appear on the student's transcript, whereas, Plan A thesis titles do; further, Plan B non-thesis papers are not filed in the University Libraries and they are not submitted to ProQuest. They are filed with the major academic unit.

Students pursuing the master of arts in teaching or the master of science in teaching should follow the regulations listed under the specific requirements for the master's degree with the minor modifications listed below.

Other Master's Programs

Some Master's programs require additional coursework in place of the thesis. These programs include the Master of Business Administration (47 hours) and the Master of Public Administration (47 credits). These programs may also have different requirements pertaining to graduate committees and do not require the submission of a program of study.

M.A.T./M.S.T. Degrees

Candidates for the M.A.T. or the M.S.T. should have completed the requirements for teacher certification prior to application for admission to graduate study. In exceptional cases, however, applicants may be admitted to graduate study even though they fall short of certification requirements. The M.A.T./M.S.T. program is completely separate from the certification requirements. Hours used to meet certification requirements cannot be applied toward the M.A.T./M.S.T. degrees.

The M.A.T./M.S.T. degrees are only modifications of the Plan B non-thesis option and are subject to the requirements of the admitting department and the general requirements of the faculty.

At least 24 of the 30 semester hours required must be in a particular teaching area (e.g., chemistry, history), with at least 12 hours in one department. A student working jointly in two departments must take at least 12 hours from each department.

The M.S.T. is designed for one teaching area and must include 18 hours in, or the total required by, that area. A program designed for two teaching areas must include 12 hours in, or required by, each of the specified two areas. Courses offered by the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center do not constitute a separate area in themselves but may be applied to an appropriate area. A program designed for two teaching areas must be approved by the heads of both departments, and the graduate committee for this program must include one member from each department. The M.S.T. is intended for individuals teaching at the secondary level. The program should represent the student's needs.

Doctor of Philosophy Candidates

The doctor of philosophy degree does not represent a specified amount of work over a definite period of time but rather the attainment of independent and comprehensive scholarship in a particular field. Such scholarship will be manifest in a thorough acquaintance with present knowledge and a demonstrated capacity for research. The fulfilling of the following requirements suggests, therefore, only the minimum task one must undertake to earn the doctor of philosophy degree. No amount of time spent in graduate study or accumulation of credit hours entitles the student to become a candidate for this degree.

The program of study must include a minimum of 72 semester hours of credit at the 4000 level or above from UW or equivalent levels from another approved university. This 72-hour requirement may include graduate credits earned while working toward the master's degree in the same area, but at least 42 hours (of the 72) must be earned in formal coursework. Additional credits toward the 72-hour requirement may include additional formal course credits, Dissertation Research credits (5980 course numbers), or Internship credits (5990 course numbers). The program must be on file in the Office of the Registrar before the preliminary examination can be scheduled.

Doctor of Education Candidates

The degree of doctor of education (Ed.D.) is offered to competent students who wish to pursue a program of studies and to participate in appropriate activities in preparation for professional service in teaching, administrative, and supervisory positions in education. The program is designed to meet the needs of those for whom intensive research is not a practical prerequisite to vocational goals. Doctoral students are expected to participate not only in organized coursework but also in informal types of activities that will insure breadth of outlook and technical competence.

Each doctoral student must furnish satisfactory evidence of having had three years of successful professional experience. This experience may be in teaching or administration or both. The student's graduate committee will determine what experience shall be required and when this requirement has been satisfied.

At least 36 semester hours must be earned in the major field. The degree requires a minimum of 72 graduate hours (beyond the bachelor's degree) to complete all requirements. In addition to the program of studies in organized coursework, the doctoral student will be required to complete an approved applied project report or dissertation within the major field of professional specialization.

A student who has taken a major part of his/her undergraduate and graduate training at UW may be required by his/her graduate committee to do a specified portion of graduate work at some other institution. The program must be on file in the Office of the Registrar before the preliminary examination can be scheduled.

Miscellaneous Regulations

New Parent Accommodation Policy

The University of Wyoming is dedicated to ensuring optimal success for all graduate students. However, new parents are frequently forced to interrupt their education cycle, sometimes in a transient manner but often permanently.

The New Parent Accommodation policy is designed to allow new parents to maintain full-time, registered student status and facilitate their return to full participation in graduate activities in a seamless manner without penalty. The policy applies to full-time students enrolled in a graduate program. If both members of the new parent partnership are UW graduate students, one but not both will be eligible for the full accommodation. However, university encourages accommodation of schedules for exams, assignments and programs of study for the graduate student partner.  This accommodation does not apply to part-time students.

A student anticipating becoming a new parent is eligible for accommodation consideration for a period of up to one semester. The exact accommodation period will begin on the date specified on the New Parent Accommodation petition approved by the college dean. This petition must be filed and approved prior to the actual date of childbirth or adoption. Additional information can be found at

Armed Services

Time spent in the armed services is not computed in the total time allowed to complete the requirements for an advanced degree; however, students who are eligible and wish to use this time exclusion must file the leave of absence petition.

International Students

Upon arriving at the University of Wyoming, international students are required to visit the International Students and Scholars  (ISS) office. This office:

  • Provides support and counsel for UW's international students and scholars population regarding aspects of immigration regulations and procedures;
  • orients this population to the policies and expectations of the university, the educational system, and the U.S. culture;
  • hosts a mandatory orientation program for all new international students before the beginning of each semester.

Please see the ISS Web site for detailed information (

International graduate assistants with teaching responsibilities must complete the English Proficiency Assessment Program and must participate in the Graduate Student Teaching and Learning Symposium. Check the Graduate Student Resources Web site ( for dates and times.

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Erin Olson, Associate Registrar

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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