Graduate Degree Requirements

Master’s and Doctoral Study

Graduate students earn a master’s or doctorate degree by distinguished achievement in advanced study and research. In addition to coursework, there are various means of evaluating achievement in study, including qualifying examinations, capstones, and various kinds of laboratory and field work. 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 doctorate 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 doctorate degrees according to the demands of the field of study. See program requirements for UCLA graduate degrees and the departmental graduate adviser for details. Policies and regulations are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA (PDF).

Academic Residence

For the master’s degree, the minimum residence requirement is one year (three academic terms) of registration in graduate standing at the University of California, including at least two academic terms at UCLA.

For the doctorate degree, the minimum residence requirement is two years (six academic 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 (three academic terms) 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: by enrolling in two six-week UCLA summer sessions, taking at least 2 units of upper-division and/or graduate work in each session; or enrolling in one eight-week session for at least 4 units of credit. Residence earned through summer enrollment is limited to one third of the degree requirements.

To maintain satisfactory progress toward the degree, UCLA requires at least a 3.0 (B) grade-point average in all courses taken in graduate standing at the University of California, and in all courses applied toward a graduate degree.

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 more details on foreign language requirements, see program requirements for UCLA graduate degrees.

Changing Majors

Continuing graduate students may petition for a change of major after discussing plans with the new department. The Graduate Petition for Major/Classification Change (PDF) is filed with Graduate Division Academic Services, 1255 Murphy Hall. While there is no deadline for this petition, it should be submitted before the end of the tenth week of instruction for changes in the current quarter. Students should contact their department about any deadlines before completing the petition.