Graduate Degree Requirements

Program of Study and Scholarship

Master’s Degree

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 UCLA 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. UCLA 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 an individual or group capstone project or comprehensive examination. Information concerning this project or examination and its format (which may be a recital, exhibition, project portfolio, etc.) is available from the department.

Doctorate Degree

Doctoral programs are individualized and permit a high degree of specialization. UCLA 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 faculty 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 faculty 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. Once all departmental requirements are met, the department chair consults with the student and then nominates a doctoral committee. All students are required to successfully complete a written qualifying examination and the University oral qualifying examination before advancement to doctoral candidacy.

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 (PDF) and minimum standards for doctoral committee constitution 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.

Doctoral Dissertation

Every doctorate degree program requires 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.