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Section 1. Residence and Course Requirements

The completion of minimum course requirements or credits does not guarantee receipt of the degree.

A. Minimum Requirements. The minimum number of credits required for the master's degree is 30; however, some departments may require credits in excess of this amount. In such instances, the number of credits is the amount specified by the department concerned.

The distribution of credits for the degree shall be as follows:

  • Twenty-four credits in course work, at least 12 of which must be earned in the major subject. The remaining credits may be earned in the major subject, or in any other subject or subjects approved by the major department.
  • At least 15 credits (exclusive of thesis courses) must be earned in courses numbered 200 or above. 
    No more than six credits may be accumulated in courses yielding thesis credit.
  • Various factors may make it necessary for the candidate to take more than the minimum number of credits before he or she satisfactorily completes the requirements for the degree. 
    A student must be physically in residence in the Graduate School for at least two semesters in order to be recommended for a degree.

B. Residency and Transfer of Credit. Residency in graduate programs (M.A., M.S.) at Howard University cannot be transferred. Thus, although a certain number of credits may be transferred from other accredited graduate institutions, such hours may not be used to meet the residency requirement. The number of credits allowed for transfer is discussed under the section on "Transfer of Credit to the Master's Degree."

C. Course Viability, Any course that was pursued more than five (5) years prior to the term in which the student presents himself or herself for the final examination will not be credited toward fulfillment of the requirements of the degree.

However, credit for such course may be restored and counted toward the fulfillment of requirements for the degree provided:

  1. the chairperson submits to the Dean a written petition/recommendation and
  2. the student has passed:
    1. a comprehensive examination in the field in which the course falls, or
    2. a written examination especially administered for the purpose of restoration of credits in the course concerned.

Under no circumstances, however, may a student receive credit toward the degree for a course which the student pursued more than seven (7) years prior to the time the student presents himself or herself for the final examination.

D. Length of Time for Completion of the Master's Degree. Students are expected to complete a master's degree within a maximum of five years from the date of initial registration in the program. Those who have not completed the degree within that time will be automatically dropped. Students dropped in this manner may petition for readmission and may be readmitted upon recommendation of the departmental Graduate Faculty and approval by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

E. Enrollment in Thesis Courses. As long as a student is using the University facilities, or is conferring in person with his thesis advisor, he must continue to enroll in a thesis course. Such a student shall register as an auditor if he has already accumulated the maximum number of hours permitted for the thesis courses.

F. Assignment of Grades for Thesis Courses. Thesis courses shall assigned a grade of Incomplete. These incompletes are removed after the final oral examination on the thesis.

G. Enrollment in the Terminal Semester. A candidate for a degree must be enrolled in the Graduate School during the semester in which the degree is conferred.


Section 2. Grades and Academic Status

A cumulative average of 3.00 (B) is required for graduation. A department shall recommend courses in which the grades of "B" or better will be required. A student will be dropped when he or she receives more than nine (9) hours of "C" or a "C" grade in more than two (2) courses where at least one of the courses is for four (4) or more credits and where the total credit hours of "C" is greater than nine (9) hours. A student who falls below the 3.00 average shall be warned and informed that he/she must raise his/ her quality point index to 3.00 in the next two terms in residence. Students failing to do so will be dropped from the Graduate School.

The Graduate Faculty of the department can recommend the dismissal of a student who demonstrates an inability to perform satisfactorily at the graduate level.

Section 3. Program of Study

The Graduate Faculty of the department in which the student is majoring shall stipulate the program and specify the departmental requirements for each of its candidates. Such departmental programs must have the approval of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

Section 4. Transfer of Credit to the Master's Degree

All courses required for the master's degree shall be taken at Howard University, except that a department may recommend to the Executive Committee of the Graduate School course work taken in another graduate school and request that it be approved up to a maximum of six credits. No correspondence courses may be accepted for graduate credit.

Credit will be given only for courses pursued within five years of the term in which the student presents himself for the final examination for the degree. An exception to this regulation may be granted upon the written recommendation of the head of the department concerned, based upon special examination of the candidate, and the approval of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

Section 5. Foreign Language Requirement

The foreign language requirement for the degree of Master of Arts or Master of Science shall be determined by the department.

The following departments require students to fulfill the requirement of reading proficiency in a foreign language: African Studies and Research, Art, Biochemistry, Botany, Economics, English, German, History, Human Ecology (International Studies only), Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Romance Languages, Sociology and Anthropology.

In some departments reading proficiency in a foreign language is optional. In these departments the requirement of competency in the tools of research may be met by such means as foreign language, computer competence, research methods, statistics, or some other approved alternative. Such policies shall be explicit, and the Office of the Dean shall be informed of the action of the particular department with regard to the foreign language requirement.

Candidates who are required to demonstrate a reading ability in French, German, Russian, or Spanish have the option of the Graduate School Foreign Language Tests administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or the departmental examination prepared by the foreign language departments at Howard University. Department examinations shall be administered and evaluated by the language departments of the University based on materials submitted by the department concerned.

Section 6. Admission to Candidacy for the Master's Degree

Admission to graduate work is not tantamount to admission to candidacy. Before a student can be admitted to candidacy for the master's degree he/she must have:

  • Secured an admission to candidacy form from the Office of the Dean for completion by a departmental representative. The student must submit a list of graduate courses completed, being taken, and yet to be pursued in the field.
  • Completed 12 credits in graduate courses.
  • Passed the qualifying examination administered by the department concerned (where applicable).
  • Satisfactorily demonstrated expository writing proficiency to the Office of Educational Affairs.
  • Passed the foreign language examination or fulfilled the approved substitute (where applicable).
  • Chosen a suitable problem for a thesis subject, or indicated the optional requirement.
  • Received the recommendation of his/her major department. 
    Secured the approval of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

Students are admitted to candidacy by vote of the Graduate Faculty. Admission to candidacy must be achieved at least six weeks prior to the end of the semester in which the student expects to receive his/her degree. No exception to this rule will be made.
Candidacy for the master's degree shall be valid for no more than three calendar years. Any student whose candidacy has expired may make application to the Executive Committee of the Graduate School for readmission. The department in which the student is seeking the degree shall determine the conditions under which he, or she, may be reinstated, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

The responsibility for fulfilling these requirements on time is that of the student. Students should consult the Dean of the Graduate School if in doubt as to any of the requirements. Students should note carefully the specific requirements of their departments relative to admission to candidacy and regard them as additional to these general requirements.

Section 7. Thesis

Most master's programs require the submission of a thesis in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree. A candidate who is required to submit a thesis shall be assigned to a Graduate Professor in his department, who shall act as his advisor in the preparation of the thesis and the selection of his graduate courses. Students are advised to consult their departments concerning thesis requirements and options.

The subject of the thesis shall be determined as early in the program as possible, preferably before the end of the first term of residence.

For comprehensive instructions on the formatting of the thesis, please refer to the Thesis and Dissertation Manual.

Section 8. Final Examination for the Master's Degree

A candidate for the master's degree is required to take a final examination which is the final test of his/her fitness for the degree. This examination is administered by the Graduate Faculty of the department in which the student is enrolled. The examination may consist of a comprehensive test in the courses taken by the student in fulfillment of the work required for the degree, or it may be a test of the student's grasp of the technique of research in his/her field as evidenced by an oral examination on the thesis or a combination of these.

Any candidate who fails the examination for the first time will be allowed to sit for a second examination, provided that the second examination does not come earlier than two (2) months from the date of the previous examination, and provided that the application for the second examination bears the approval of the department in which the student is specializing. Failure on the second examination is final. A student dropped for this reason will not be readmitted to the Graduate School. More detailed procedures outlining the process involved in administering the final oral examination for the master's thesis and its submission are disseminated by the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.