The following information is for prospective applicants and those outside the University who are interested in the basic structure of UCLA graduate degree requirements. It is not meant to be comprehensive or to serve as a primary resource for continuing students. Official, specific degree requirements, including language requirements, are detailed in the Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees on the Graduate Division website. Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA provides detailed information and sets forth general policies, many of which emanate from the Academic Senate and its Graduate Council, regarding completion of degree requirements, master’s and doctoral committees, examinations, and foreign language requirements. General regulations concerning graduate courses, standards of scholarship, disqualification, appeal, leave of absence, normal progress toward degree, withdrawal, and a number of other matters also are included.
Master’s and Doctoral Study
Graduate students earn a master’s or doctoral degree by distinguished achievement in advanced study and research. In addition to coursework, there are various means of evaluating achievement in study, including qualifying and comprehensive examinations and various kinds of laboratory and fieldwork. Achievement in research is primarily assessed through evaluation of the master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. In addition to advanced study and research, professional master’s and doctoral programs also may include professional training. This training may take the form of fieldwork, internships, or projects, and may lead to professional licensure.
University Minimum Standards
The requirements described here for master’s and doctoral degrees are minimum standards set by the University. Individual schools or departments may set higher standards and may require additional courses and examinations for their master’s degrees. Each department also sets additional requirements for doctoral degrees according to the demands of the field of study. See the Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees section of the Graduate Division website and the departmental graduate adviser for details. Policies and regulations are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.
For the master’s degree, the minimum residence requirement consists of three academic terms of registration in graduate standing at the University of California, including at least two terms at UCLA.
For the doctoral degree, the minimum residence requirement is two years (six terms) of registration in graduate standing at the University of California, including one year (usually the second) in continuous residence at UCLA. If students earned a master’s degree at UCLA, one year of this requirement will have been met. In most cases a longer period of residence is necessary, and from three to five years is generally considered optimal.
Academic residence for both degrees is established by successfully completing a minimum of one graduate or upper division course (4 units) during a term.
Students may earn one term of residence for summer study in either of these ways: (1) enroll in two six-week summer sessions taking at least 2 units of upper division and/or graduate work in each session OR (2) enroll in one eight-week session for at least 4 units of credit. Residence earned through Summer Sessions enrollment is limited to one third of the degree requirements.
To maintain satisfactory progress toward the degree, UCLA requires at least a B average in all courses taken in graduate standing at the University and in all courses applied toward a graduate degree, including those taken at another UC campus.
Foreign Language Requirements
Foreign language requirements are determined by individual departments and programs. If their program has a language requirement, students should fulfill it either before they begin graduate study or as soon as possible thereafter. All foreign language requirements must be satisfied before advancement to candidacy.
Many departments require graduate degree candidates to demonstrate proficiency in one or more foreign languages, so that they can acquire broad knowledge in their field of study and keep abreast of foreign developments in the field. Students are urged to complete language requirements as early as possible in their graduate career. If the department requires two or more foreign languages, students must complete at least one before the University Oral Qualifying Examination (unless, as is most common, the department requires that both be completed before the examination).
Some departments allow students to fulfill language requirements either by passing departmental examinations or by completing coursework in a foreign language. Certain departments may require additional languages, special competence, or other special procedures. In some departments, English satisfies the foreign language requirement if it is not the native language.
For further details on foreign language requirements, consult the Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees on the Graduate Division website.
Continuing graduate students may petition for a change of major after discussing plans with the new department. Forms are available from the departments and should be filed with Academic Services, 1255 Murphy Hall. Deadlines are generally the same as those for the graduate admissions procedure.
Program of Study and Scholarship
At least nine graduate and upper division courses (or any number of fractional courses totaling 36 units) must be completed in graduate standing; at least five of the nine (20 units) must be graduate-level courses. These unit requirements represent the University minimum standard. Many master’s degree programs have higher unit requirements.
UCLA offers master’s degrees under two plans: Plan I, the Master’s Thesis; and Plan II, the Master’s Capstone. Some departments offer both plans, and students must consult with their department to determine the plan for meeting their degree requirements. University minimum requirements are the same under either plan.
Plan I: Master’s Thesis
Every master’s degree thesis plan requires the completion of an approved thesis that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research.
Plan II: Master’s Capstone
Following advancement to candidacy, students under Plan II must pass a comprehensive examination. Information concerning this examination and its format (which may be a recital, exhibition, project portfolio, etc.) is available in the departments.
Doctoral programs are individualized and permit a high degree of specialization. The University does not specify course requirements for doctoral programs. Individual programs set their own requirements, which may include specific courses, and these must be completed before students take the University Oral Qualifying Examination. Students determine their course of study in consultation with a graduate adviser until the doctoral committee is appointed.
Doctoral Examinations before Advancement to Candidacy
Prior to advancement to candidacy, doctoral candidates fulfill the coursework, teaching, and/or examinations required by the major department or program. They are supervised during this period by a departmental adviser and/or departmental guidance committee. This committee administers a departmental written and, in some cases, oral examination (not to be confused with the University Oral Qualifying Examination) after students complete the recommended or required work. All students are required to successfully complete a written qualifying examination and the University Oral Qualifying Examination before advancement to doctoral candidacy. Once all departmental requirements are met, the department chair consults with the student and then nominates a doctoral committee.
University Oral Qualifying Examination
The doctoral committee, consisting of at least four faculty members nominated by the department, is appointed by the dean of the Graduate Division (consult Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA for details on committee membership). To determine qualifications for advancement to candidacy, the committee administers the University Oral Qualifying Examination and, at its option, a separate written examination.
Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.