University of California, Riverside

Graduate Division



The Master's Degree


The minimum academic residence in the University of California is three quarters, two of which must be spent at the Riverside campus. Registration in at least 4 units of 100 or 200 level course work is necessary for each quarter of academic residence.

Unless otherwise stated in the program description, the normative time required to complete the Master's degree is two years. The master's degree can generally be earned in one of two ways: by writing a thesis or by passing a comprehensive examination. Some programs offer only one of these options. Both plans require a minimum of 36 quarter units of graduate or upper-division undergraduate work in the major subject or another subject deemed relevant by the program faculty, as specified below.

The Thesis Plan (or Plan I) Master's degree requires that at least 24 of the units required be graduate-level courses taken at a campus of the University of California. Of these, only 12 may be in graduate research for the thesis. In addition to an acceptable thesis, the program may require an exam to confirm that the student has an appropriate knowledge of the discipline.

A Master's thesis committee consists of three members. This committee is nominated by the program after consultation with the student. Once approved by the Graduate Dean, the committee becomes responsible for the student's academic guidance and evaluation.  To avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest, when domestic partners or spouses are a majority of the faculty overseeing an exam or dissertation, another faculty member will be added to that committee.

The chair of the committee is normally a member of the student's program. The members of the committee should be UCR Academic Senate members. The dean will consider nominations of members who do not meet this criterion--a visiting lecturer within the program, for example. However, a memo of support and vita must accompany such nominations. (Memos need not accompany the nomination of an Adjunct faculty member.) When approved the student must file a copy of their thesis electronically with the Graduate Division. Regulations on the format and filing deadline dates can be found in the Thesis and Dissertation Submission section of this website.  Quarterly workshops are given on how to prepare the format and paperwork you will need to file.

The Comprehensive Examination (or Plan II) Master's degree requires at least 18 units in graduate level courses taken at a University of California campus. None of these may be in research units for the thesis. The candidate must take a comprehensive examination, the content of which is determined by the department or program. No more than two attempts to pass the exam are allowed.

Credit by Exam

Master's students in residence and in good standing may earn course credit by examination. The course must be such that completion can reasonably be determined by examination. Credit by exam cannot be received for graduate seminars and research courses. Petitions should be filed no later than the third week of the quarter in which a student will be tested.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy by the first day of instruction of the quarter in which their degree is expected to be awarded.

The Graduate Adviser should inform the Graduate Dean in writing of any approved substitutions for generally required courses. The approval of the Graduate Dean is required for all substitutions or waivers of degree requirements.

All requirements for the degree must be satisfied within one calendar year after completion of the required course work. After this time, candidacy will lapse.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

Graduate Division
University Office Building

Tel: (951) 827-4302
Fax: (951) 827-2238
E-mail: graddiv@ucr.edu

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