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General Graduate Degree Requirements

Transfer Credits

Each graduate program will determine the applicability of previous graduate courses proposed for transfer credit. Only those graduate courses completed at accredited or recognized institutions of higher education and with grades of 'B' or better are eligible for consideration for transfer credit. Courses with grades of 'S' or 'P' are not transferable unless the student or department provides written documentation from the instructor(s) of the course, a department administrator, or the registrar at the transfer institution that the 'S' or 'P' graded course was equivalent to at least a 'B' grade.

No more than 20% of a master's program may be comprised of credits from another graduate academic program at UB, other accredited higher education institutions, or a combination thereof. For example, students pursuing a 30-credit UB master's degree may transfer up to 6 credits into their program. Students pursuing a 45-credit master's degree program may transfer up to 9 credits.

Transfer credits for the doctoral degree may not constitute more than one-half the total credits of that specific degree program.

The director of graduate studies or chair of the student's major department must formally evaluate any transfer credits and, if acceptable, file the Graduate Student Petition for Transfer Credit form during the student's first year of matriculation to UB. Upon receipt of the transfer credit petition, the Graduate School will evaluate credit and grade equivalencies as well as verify the courses were completed at an accredited or recognized institution of higher education. Transfer credits may be approved and recorded on the student's UB record only after the Graduate School or International Admissions receives the official final transcript.

Use of Prior Coursework Toward a Graduate Degree

Coursework, whether transfer or UB credits, more than 10 years old, that is to be included in a graduate degree program, must be petitioned at the time of the student's admission to the program or at the time the credits are considered by the department.

Use of prior post-baccalaureate level coursework toward another advanced degree may be limited. See the "Limits on 'Course Sharing'" in this document or consult the Graduate School Office of Student Services for more information.

Use of Dual-Listed Courses Toward both an Undergraduate and a Graduate Degree Program

Dual-listed courses that are taken at the undergraduate level and applied toward an undergraduate degree cannot be taken later at the graduate level and applied toward a post-baccalaureate degree or advanced certificate if the student received a "B" grade or higher in the undergraduate level offering.

Limits on "Course Sharing"

In cases where a student wishes to utilize selected graduate level courses to satisfy the degree requirements of more than one post-baccalaureate (graduate and/or professional) degree program, the following limitations apply:

  1. The integrity of each master's level degree program must be observed by the student's completion of a minimum of twenty-four (24) semester hours of credit at UB and uniquely applied to that program. Individual degree programs may establish minimum credit hour requirements that exceed that level.
  2. No more than 10% of the total credit hours normally required to complete both of the degree programs in question may be comprised of "shared courses" (i.e., courses applied to both programs). For example, in the case of two master's degree programs each of which requires 30-credits (i.e., a total of 60), no more than 6 credit hours (10%) of the 60 may be comprised of courses applied to both programs. Similarly, in the case of two post-baccalaureate degree programs that, in total, require 90 credit hours between them, no more than 9 credit hours (10%) of the 90 may be comprised of courses applied to both programs.
  3. In cases where one or more specific courses are explicitly required by both programs (i.e., not merely as acceptable electives), such course(s) are considered "shared courses" under policy definitions and will be the first course(s) counted toward the 10% limit. If those specific courses explicitly required by both programs exceed the normal 10% "shared courses" limit, the 10% limit is waived and all such courses may be counted toward both degrees.
  4. Up to 50% of a student's Ph.D. program may be comprised of courses used to complete another degree program at UB or at another institution. A minimum of 50% of the Ph.D. program must consist of courses completed at UB that have not been applied toward any other degree program.

Language Requirement

Although the Graduate School does not have a language requirement for master's or doctoral degrees, some departments have established a language or skill requirement for their programs.

Application to Candidacy

The Application to Candidacy (ATC) is filed with the Graduate School and indicates that the student is entering the final stages of degree completion. Normally students should expect to file an Application to Candidacy after two or three semesters of full-time enrollment toward the master's degree, or after six semesters of full-time enrollment toward the doctoral degree.

Review and approval of the ATC is the responsibility of the student's department and Dean, in that order. Some units also require Divisional or Area Committee review prior to submission to the Graduate School. Once admitted to candidacy, a student may not need to enroll for 12 credits (9 credits for graduate, teaching and research assistants) to be certified as a full-time student.

Primary responsibility for evaluation of each student's application to candidacy rests with the student's department or program and major advisor.

The department or program is responsible for ensuring that each ATC is complete prior to submission to the Academic Dean. The Academic Dean then forwards the ATC to the appropriate Divisional or Area committee or directly to the Graduate School if committee review is not required. Where committee review is required, the chair of the appropriate committee will approve or disapprove ATCs. If subsequently approved, the application is then forwarded to the Graduate School for final review.

Candidates must file the ATC by the specified deadlines. Committees cannot receive ATCs immediately prior to the expected graduation date. Once the Graduate School approves the ATC, written notification of approval will be sent to the student.

Minor amendments to the ATC which become necessary through changes in registration (e.g., adding or deleting anticipated courses or credits) must be formalized through petition, available on the Forms for Students page. This form must be endorsed by the director of graduate studies or chair of the student's department. These amendments are then reviewed by the Graduate School.

Application to Candidacy/Degree Completion Timetable

Although the Graduate School does not have a language requirement for master's or doctoral degrees, some departments have established a language or skill requirement for their programs.

Graduate School receives Application to Candidacy with Dean and Divisional Committee approval by... October 1 March 1 July 1
ALL required graduation materials are received in The Graduate School by... January 10, 2014
May 23, 2014
August 15, 2014

The above dates are subject to change. Each student is advised to check with the appropriate office one semester prior to the deadline date listed for up-to-date information. It is the student's responsibility to check with the Graduate School at (716) 645-2939 prior to the deadline dates to be sure all the requirements and paperwork for your degree have been completed. Each department has the appropriate forms and additional instructions.

Informal Courses

Definition: Informal courses include registration in independent study; project, thesis, or dissertation guidance; directed or supervised reading; and directed research coursework.

A formal Independent Study Agreement (see section below regarding Independent Study Agreements) must be established in writing between the instructor and the student for each registered independent study course by the end of the first week of classes. It is the responsibility of the student and the instructor to see that all Independent Study Agreements are maintained in the student’s file within the student’s home department. Independent Study Agreements are to become part of the student's permanent academic record.

Informal courses associated with final project, portfolio, thesis, research, or dissertation completion do not require the establishment of formal Independent Study Agreements.

With the exception of Introductory Language Courses, use of undergraduate courses below the 400 level, as the criteria for creating an informal graduate course, is strictly prohibited.

Independent Study Agreements
Independent Study coursework agreements should contain the following components:
• the student and the instructor’s names and signature*
• name and number of the course
• # of credits for the independent study
• description of work required to complete the course
• tentative schedule for when/how often the student and instructor will meet during the given term
• course objectives
• intended learning outcomes
• method of assessment
• clearly delineated grading type (e.g., pass/fail, letter grade)
*If the Independent Study Agreement is filed electronically, some indication of acceptance of the agreement from both the instructor and the student.

Thesis/Dissertation in a Foreign Language

Students who wish to write their dissertation or thesis in a language other than English (except those in the Department of Romance Language and Literature) must obtain prior approval from the Executive Committee of the Graduate School. A petition for such approval must include reasons why the work cannot be written as effectively in English as in the other language. In addition, the following conditions must be met:

  1. Students must demonstrate an adequate command of the language prior to undertaking their projects.
  2. The topic of the thesis or dissertation must be extensively represented (i.e., include primary and/or secondary sources) in the foreign language in which the thesis or dissertation is to be written.
  3. The members of the thesis or dissertation committee must all read the language fluently (i.e., with sufficient ease and accuracy to enable them to determine the quality of work).
  4. A lengthy and detailed summary or translation in English of the thesis or dissertation must be supplied by the candidate to the department for the oral defense.
  5. The topical examination and oral defense must be conducted in English.

Time Limits for Degree Conferral

Master's degrees must be completed within four (4) years from the student's first registration date in that master's degree program. Doctoral degrees must be completed within seven (7) years from the student's initial formal matriculation in that doctoral program. Requests for extensions of time limits must be petitioned using a Graduate Student Petition Form. Each Divisional or Area Committee may establish its own stricter policies within the constraints of these overarching institutional policies.

Registration Prior to Degree Conferral

Students must be registered for at least one credit in the term immediately prior to degree conferral as indicated below:

  • Fall term registration is required if a student intends to finish degree requirements in time for the February 1 degree conferral.
  • Spring term registration is required if a student intends to finish degree requirements in time for the June 15 or September 1 degree conferral.

Posthumous Award of a Graduate Degree

In limited instances when certain conditions are satisfied, a posthumous degree may be awarded when a student dies prior to completing all of his/her graduate degree requirements. UB faculty (in consultation with the student's family) may request the posthumous conferral of the graduate degree in recognition of the work completed toward that degree at the time of the student's death.

The request for consideration of the posthumous award of the degree in question may emanate from either a member of the student's family or a UB faculty member. If the request originates from a family member, they should communicate those wishes to the department within which the student was pursuing the graduate degree. If the request originates from a faculty member, it is incumbent upon that faculty member to first seek the family’s concurrence that the degree be awarded posthumously to the student. The faculty member then directs a written request to the Chair of the student’s department. The Chair, in turn, submits a formal request for the awarding of the posthumous degree to the Vice Provost for Graduate Education/Dean of the Graduate School (VPGE).

The posthumous award of a graduate degree will be considered providing that the student:

  • had formally advanced to candidacy.
  • was considered in good academic standing possessing a minimum graduate degree program grade point average of 3.0.
  • had been actively pursuing the degree in an appropriate and timely manner at the time of death and had completed virtually all requirements of the degree program in question.
  • was making satisfactory academic progress and was nearing completion of the final master's degree project or thesis or the doctoral dissertation.

The following documentation is required when filing the formal request:

  1. Departmental evidence of the extent to which the degree program was actually completed and a brief summary of any program requirements that had not been completed. This may include a copy of the application to candidacy, thesis/dissertation prospectus approval forms, evidence of passing qualifying exams, or any other documentation deemed appropriate.
  2. A written letter of recommendation from the Department Chair supporting the conferral, together with correspondence from the instructors of any courses in which the student was enrolled at the time of death (including courses outside the department). Each such instructor should indicate the grade (if any) of the student's work in that course up to the time of death.

If the VPGE reaches a favorable decision in support of granting the degree, he/she will issue a letter authorizing the University Registrar to confer the degree posthumously, and issue a transcript and a diploma to the appropriate family member's current mailing address. In all such cases the degree will be awarded reflecting the next regular institutional conferral date (February 1, June 15 or September 1) following the date of the student's death.

If the VPGE determines that the degree will not be awarded posthumously, he/she will provide a letter to the Chair of the student's department explaining the reason(s) for the denial. It shall be the responsibility of the Graduate School to advise the student's family that the request for posthumous degree conferral was denied.

Thesis/Dissertation Embargo Option

Theses and dissertations submitted to the Graduate School as a requirement of the student’s degree program must be submitted in digital format and comply with The Graduate School’s Guidelines for Electronic Theses and Dissertation (ETD) Submission.

Soon after degree conferral, theses and dissertations are submitted to ProQuest/UMI for cataloguing and publishing. Approximately 12 – 14 weeks after degree conferral, submissions are available to the academic community (via authentication) through the UB Libraries system and the ProQuest Thesis/Dissertation database. When a thesis or dissertation is based wholly, or in part, on research from which an invention or discovery has resulted or may result, the thesis or dissertation may require special handling to prevent unwanted disclosure which could damage or eliminate U.S. or international patent rights, or both. These special procedures will in no way impede progress toward the degree, affect acceptance of the thesis/dissertation, or delay conferral of the degree. They are aimed solely at protecting the rights of the University and the inventor. The student must provide both timely disclosure of the invention itself through the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR) or Roswell Park’s Office of Technology Transfer, as well as timely notification to the Graduate School of the requirement for special handling of the thesis or dissertation.

When a thesis or dissertation contains potentially patentable material, the student and the major advisor may request, with written approval of the major professor, a 3-month / 6-month / 9-month or 12-month hold (an “embargo”) on the release of the document. Requests must be made in writing to the Graduate School using the Thesis/Dissertation Embargo Request Form. Approved requests will result in the thesis/dissertation being held by ProQuest for the approved embargo period. The Thesis/Dissertation will then be released for publishing and cataloguing after the embargo period ends. Extensions beyond the 12-month hold will be reviewed by the Graduate School on a case-by-case basis with all parties involved.

Acceptable reasons to embargo/restrict dissemination:

  • Patentable rights in the work or other issues in which disclosure may be detrimental to the rights or interests of the author.
  • The ethical need to prevent disclosure of sensitive or classified information regarding persons, institutions, technologies, etc.
  • The interest of an academic or commercial press in acquiring the rights to publish the author’s dissertation or thesis as a book.
  • Extensive content within the dissertation or thesis that is likely to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

For more information about when an embargo may be warranted, visit this website: