Masters Degree [Plan A] Handbook

View and download a checklist.

What follows is a combined listing of program and Graduate School requirements and a suggested timeline.  It is understood that each student's situation is unique and that the actual timeline for each student may vary, but it is important to remember that all master's degrees conferred by the University of Minnesota must be earned within five calendar years of initial enrollment in the program. Additional information about completing a Masters Degree at the University of Minnesota can be found on the Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) website.

Prior to Arriving on Campus

  • Communicate with your advisor(s) about your role as their student, mutual expectations, your assistantship (if applicable), and courses you plan to take for the first semester. Students may refer to the PDF iconBest Advising Practices for Graduate Student Success document for more information about student and adviser responsibilities.
  • Register for classes with the help of your advisor(s). If you're new to the University, you'll need to Activate Your University Email Address. Be sure to enroll in our required orientation course, NR 8101.

Upon Arrival

  • Meet with your advisor(s) and establish a meeting schedule.
  • Introduce yourself to the NRSM Program Coordinator and Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
  • Go to your major advisor's departmental office to visit departmental administrator. Here you will likely obtain a mailbox, office assignment, keys, employment forms, and information about your assistantship (if applicable).

First Year

  • Work with major advisor(s) to identify thesis topic and develop research prospectus.
  • Prepare and submit your GPAS Degree Plan, ideally during the second or third semester.  The PDF iconNRSM Research Plan form (.pdf) must accompany the submission of the degree plan.
    • Please note that approval of the degree and research plans can take up to a month. 
  • Meet with major advisor(s) at the end of each academic year to complete an Annual Student Review and discuss degree progress and goals for the future. 

Second Year

  • Complete Course Requirements:
    • 10 thesis credits - NR 8777 (may be taken at any time),
    • 1 credit NRSM Seminar - NR 8107, 
    • 19 (or more) additional coursework credits.
  • Submit your examination committee using the Graduate School's online reporting process, Assign/Update Master's Final Committee.  
    • The Graduate School requires that the approved degree plan be on file before you officially submit your committee.
  • Request a Graduation Packet from the Graduate School.
  • Submit Application for Degree (part of the graduation packet) electronically on or before the first working day of the month you intend to complete all requirements.
  • Schedule the Final Oral Examination with your advisor and committee members.
  • Return keys to your department, along with any other equipment you may have borrowed.

Final Examination 

  • NRSM Masters students have the option of hosting a public seminar prior to their closed door final examination. If you and your advisor(s) decide to host a public seminar, please contact the NRSM office with the seminar title, abstract, date, time, and location.
  • The final meeting between defending students and their examination committee is always a closed door exam. 
  • Committee members need to sign both the Thesis Reviewers' Report Form and the Final Exam Form.  Deliver these to the Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) office.
  • It is customary to give a copy of your thesis to your advisor(s). Also, submit a copy to the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, which provides long-term preservation and access services for the intellectual and creative output of the University's academic, research, and administrative communities. The Conservancy is an open access repository and makes submissions freely available, worldwide.
  • Visit the GSSP Website for more information about MS forms, degree completion, and the final examination.