Aug 22, 2019  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
    
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Graduate Degree Requirements: College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics


Colleges  > College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics  > Graduate Degree Requirements: College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

General Requirements

In accordance with University policies, the College requires that graduate students have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in order to graduate. Students who have received 12 hours of U grades and/or grades of C+ or lower are not eligible to receive a graduate degree. Students may need to fulfill specific prerequisite requirements for their degree program, and are encouraged to visit the departmental web sites for this information. Students who need to make any changes to their major or degree plan will need to submit a Graduate Petition form that requires the approval of their Department and the College.

Master of Art Degree

Degree Requirements

The MA degree is designed for the professional scientist who wishes to focus on excellence in training rather than excellence in research.

This 33 hour program requires:

  • 15 hours in a discipline with at least 9 hours at the 5000 or above level; and
  • A minimum of 15 hours in approved areas with at least 9 hours at the 5000 or above level; and
  • A minimum of three hours in a special problem or tutorial.

Currently, only the Department of Mathematics offers an MA degree. This MA program is viewed as a terminal degree program.

Master of Science Degree

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science (MS) degree will be awarded after students have successfully completed requirements specified in one of the two following plans:

Plan I: Thesis Option

Students may satisfy degree requirements by completing a minimum of 30 approved semester hours, no more than nine of which, with specific departmental approval, may be at the advanced undergraduate level, and no more than six of which may be undergraduate hours in the major department. At least three, but not more than six, semester hours of the Master’s Thesis course and a thesis acceptable to the department and the College must be completed. At the option of the department, a qualifying and/or final comprehensive examination may be required.

Students who complete a thesis as part of their degree requirements must specify a thesis committee and have the names on file in the Office of the Dean at least one semester prior to their graduation. The committee must consist of a minimum of two faculty members who have their primary appointment within the major department and one approved member external to the major department from industry or academia who is acceptable to the department and approved by the college. A faculty member with a joint appointment in the major department is considered as an outside member unless he/she chairs the committee. In this case, an additional external member outside the major department is required. After these minimum requirements for committee members are satisfied, additional committee members may be approved from industry or academia, but 50% of the committee must be tenured/tenure-track faculty at the University of Houston. Research faculty or instructional faculty may serve on thesis committees but not chair the committees. However, a research professor may serve as a co-advisor with a tenured/tenured-track faculty.

Plan II: Non-Thesis Option

In some departments, students may obtain a Master’s degree by completing coursework, seminars, and in some cases a tutorial, practicum or capstone project, without the requirement for writing and defending a Master’s thesis. At the option of the department, a qualifying examination and/or final comprehensive examination may be required.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Degree Requirements

Award of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree signifies that the recipient has acquired a broad knowledge of the discipline and has demonstrated, by successful completion of an acceptable dissertation, research competence meeting the discipline’s national standards. The PhD program requires a minimum of one academic year of full-time residence; enrollment in at least three semester hours of the Doctoral Dissertation course; and successful completion of examinations in the discipline, at the discretion of the department. A minimum enrollment of 24 or 54 semester hours is required for students who hold a Master’s degree or only a Bachelor’s degree, respectively.

Doctoral students’ dissertation committees must be comprised of a minimum of four members to include three faculty members who have their primary appointment within the major department and one approved member external to the major department from industry or academia who is acceptable to the department and approved by the college. A faculty member with a joint appointment in the major department is considered as an outside member unless he/she chairs the committee. In this case, an additional external member outside the major department is required. After these minimum requirements for committee members are satisfied, additional committee members may be approved from industry or academia, but 50% of the committee must to be tenured/tenure-track faculty at the University of Houston. Research faculty or instructional faculty may serve on dissertation committees, but not chair the committees. However, a research professor may serve as a co-advisor with a tenured/tenure-track faculty. Candidates must specify a dissertation committee and have the names on file in the Office of the Dean at least one semester prior to their graduation.

Obtaining a Master’s Degree Together with a PhD Degree

Occasionally, a student in a PhD program may want to obtain an MS degree in the same major. In this case, the student must petition the department and college, as described below.

  1. Non-Thesis MS: a student admitted into a PhD program who wishes to obtain a non-thesis MS along with the PhD will need:
    1. to petition no sooner than at the beginning of the 4th academic year in the PhD program and
    2. have passed the candidacy/qualifying exam. The petition will be accompanied by a letter of support from the research advisor acknowledging that the student remains on track for a PhD. If the petition is approved, the MS career will be open for one semester only, when the student wishes to obtain the MS degree.
  2. Thesis MS: it is expected that a student in a PhD program should focus all his or her efforts on the PhD rather than working towards a Master’s thesis. Therefore, obtaining a thesis MS while in a PhD program is not encouraged by the College. However it is understood that there might be special circumstances, such as a student wishing to switch advisor, that could warrant obtaining a thesis MS prior to the PhD. In this case, a PhD student will need to petition no later than the second academic year in the PhD program. The petition will be accompanied by:
    1. a letter of support from the research advisor, acknowledging that the student remains on track for a PhD and that the PhD work will be different from the MS thesis work, and
    2. evidence that the student is registered in 6 hours of Master’s thesis for that semester. If the student is switching advisor when continuing with the PhD, then letters from both advisors will be required. If the petition is approved, the MS career will be open for one semester only, when the student wishes to obtain the MS degree. Therefore the student must plan carefully with his or her research advisor and committee to schedule the MS defense that semester. In addition, the student will not be eligible for the Graduate Tuition Fellowship while the MS career is active.