Graduate School

Graduate Programs and Degrees

There are different levels of graduate study at Fort Hays State University. The Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, Master of Liberal Studies, Master of Professional Studies, Master of Science, Master of Science in Nursing, and Professional Science Masters degrees are awarded as the first graduate degrees for graduate study. The Master of Fine Arts degree is the professional terminal degree in the field of visual arts and normally requires two years of full time graduate work. The Specialist in Education degree is given for completion of an approved program of advanced graduate study beyond the master's degree. It is a professional graduate degree providing advanced study for school personnel.

There is also a non-degree option for those who wish to do graduate work for personal and professional reasons without pursuing a degree.

Information concerning graduate study in general as well as rules and regulations that pertain to the various Master's degrees and the Specialist in Education degree follows:

Degrees and Fields of Study

Master of Arts
Master of Business Administration
Master of Fine Arts
Master of Liberal Studies (on-campus)
Master of Liberal Studies (Online Concentrations)
Master of Professional Studies
Master of Science
Master of Science in Education
Master of Science in Nursing
Specialist in Education
Graduate Certificates

Master's Degree Requirements

Admission to the Master’s Degree Program

Each applicant for admission to graduate study in a degree program must complete the following procedures before the application for admission will be considered: (1) present to the Graduate School an official application for admission; (2) pay the $35 domestic application fee or $50 international application fee; (3) provide the Graduate School with an official Bachelor’s degree transcript or certified mark sheet and diploma/degree certificate copy. (NOTES: The transcript(s) submitted for admission cannot be returned to the student, nor can copies of such transcripts be made and issued to the student or to other colleges or universities. For domestic students, the bachelor’s degree transcript must be awarded by a regionally accredited institution unless exceptions to this policy are recommended by the Graduate Dean. For international applicants from higher education systems that indicate degrees only through diplomas or degree certificates, a certified copy of the diploma/degree certificate and all mark sheets must be provided.); (4) provide entrance examination scores as required by individual departments; (5) submit letters of recommendation if required; (6) provide a personal letter/statement, or resume if required by the major department; and (7) international students must provide evidence of their ability to speak English. Such evidence may be in the form of examinations given by recognized examining boards or in such form as the Graduate Dean may approve. (For the specific statement on the language requirement, see Language Requirement for International Students.)

When the above materials have been added to the applicant’s file in the Graduate School, the file will then be evaluated by the departmental graduate committee or its delegate. This evaluation is to determine the type of recommended admission to the departmental program or recommended rejection of the application. The department will follow these regulations. Each applicant must: (1) show a minimum grade point average of 2.50 (C plus) on the last 60 hours of undergraduate credit. (Departments may have a higher minimum grade point requirement average, so an applicant must check departmental admission requirements.); (2) have adequate preparation in the area of specialization in the area of proposed study; and (3) hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The department will evaluate the material, make a recommendation, and return the file to the Graduate School. When an applicant does not meet the minimum standards of either the Graduate School or the department in any way, the department may consider the matter in relation to other strengths and weaknesses of the applicant and, if the consensus is favorable, recommend to the Graduate Dean that the applicant be admitted conditionally. All conditions of admittance must be removed before the student becomes eligible for candidacy. The Graduate Dean determines the type of admission and admits the applicant or determines if the application should be rejected. All application materials become the property of the Graduate School; they may not be copied or returned to the student.

Undergraduate Background for Graduate Work

All departments require appropriate undergraduate courses as background for either a graduate major or a graduate minor. Some departments may require more courses, others may ask for a definite sequence of undergraduate courses, and a few may require particular courses to be completed before graduate study may begin. Whenever the undergraduate transcript shows an inadequate background, additional appropriate undergraduate or graduate courses will be required.

Program Options

The program of a graduate student will consist of not less than 30 semester hours of graduate credit. If the advisor and the departmental graduate committee determine that the student needs more than the minimum number of hours in order to complete the requirements for the degree, the student’s program will be adjusted accordingly. The following plans may be chosen in developing a program: (1) a major of not less than 30 semester hours; (2) a major of not less than 21 semester hours and a minor of not less than nine semester hours; or (3) a major of not less than 21 semester hours and related courses of not less than nine semester hours. (NOTE: All options may not be available in every subject area.)

Program Planning Procedures

The coursework for the master’s degree must follow a structured plan approved by the faculty advisor and the Graduate Dean. At a minimum, the student’s graduate committee shall consist of the advisor as chair and at least one other faculty member from the major field. If available within a program, a third faculty member from the related or minor field shall serve on this committee. Optionally, a faculty member who has no connection with the graduate student’s degree program may be appointed to serve. The committee is responsible for developing the graduate degree program. This committee may also serve as the thesis/field study or catalog committee.  The objective of graduate study is not merely to take courses. The purpose is to plan a well-rounded, coherent program of courses and research that will contribute to the student’s general goal. The student will follow these program planning procedures: (1) after admission to the Graduate School, the Graduate School will assign an advisor from an approved list of graduate faculty members in consultation with the department chair; (2) this advisor is responsible for directing the student in the graduate program; (3) the student will take tests as prescribed by the advisor and the departmental graduate committee; (4) the advisor will counsel with the student, and together with the departmental graduate committee, will arrange a program. The degree program includes only the courses required for completion of the degree. The student should become acquainted with the members of his/her graduate committee as quickly as possible and should consult with them, as well as with the advisor, about the graduate program; and (5) the completed program, approved and signed by the major advisor and the Graduate Dean, should be filed in the Graduate School on or before the completion of nine hours of graduate credit.

The Graduate School will process the program of study and an electronic notice will be sent to the graduate student and the graduate advisor with instructions for secure viewing of the unofficial program of study in the university’s degree audit portal (TigerTracks). Amendments to the program of study must be communicated to the Graduate School by the student’s advisor and approved by the Graduate Dean.

Research Option

Subject to the approval of the major department, the Master’s degree student may select one of the following research options when planning a program:

Option A:  Master’s Degree With Thesis. A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit including a research course and a master’s thesis of two to six semester hours.

Option B:  Master’s Degree With Portfolio.  A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit including a research course and a completed and approved portfolio.

Option C:  Master’s Degree Without Thesis or Portfolio. A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit including a research course in which research methods are taught and in which a research paper, research project, or creative work is assigned and completed.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to candidacy is an important step in the completion of a degree program. A graduate student may be admitted to candidacy upon the successful completion of at least nine hours of graduate study and upon filing an approved program of study in consultation with the advisor. Application for candidacy should be made before completing no more than 15 hours in order to avoid the possibility of extending the program. The student must be recommended for candidacy by the advisor to the Graduate School. The student is admitted to candidacy by the Graduate Dean and notification is given to the student and advisor electronically through the degree audit portal (TigerTracks).  To be admitted to candidacy, the student must have: (1) satisfactorily passed the preliminary or other qualifying examination if either is required by the major department; (2) removed all deficiencies for admission to graduate study; (3) earned a B average (3.00) in all graduate courses that are a part of the degree program to that point; (4) filed in the Graduate School a program of study that has been approved by the Graduate Dean; and (5) completed a total of at least nine graduate program hours.

The student must be admitted to candidacy before being eligible to sign up for or take the comprehensive examination or to file an Intent to Graduate.

Intent to Graduate

The student who plans to graduate at the end of a given semester or summer term must file an Intent to Graduate form and remit associated commencement fee at the time of enrollment or before the filing deadline given in the class schedule. The student must be admitted to candidacy before being eligible to file an Intent to Graduate.

The deadline for filing the Intent to Graduate form in the Graduate School is the second Friday of classes for the fall and spring semesters and the first Friday following enrollment for the summer term.

In the event the student does not graduate after filing an Intent to Graduate, a new Intent to Graduate form must be completed before the deadline for the semester or summer term in which the student plans to complete requirements. The student must be enrolled in a graduate course in the department of the major the semester or summer session of filing or refilling an Intent to Graduate.

There is no special distinction for honors at graduation for graduate students.

899 Thesis

The thesis is the written result of independent study or research on some topic in the major field of study for which the student may receive from two to six hours of credit. Once enrolled in 899 Thesis, the student must remain continuously enrolled both fall and spring semesters, and, if the department requires it, the summer session, until the thesis is completed. Failure to enroll as required makes the student eligible for dismissal from the degree program. The topic and procedural plan of the thesis must be approved by the student’s graduate committee prior to the beginning of the study. The advisor and the departmental graduate committee or its delegate share responsibility for the student’s work on the thesis and on the final approved copies.

The approved thesis title and the approved thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School by the deadlines published in the class schedule for the semester or summer term of anticipated graduation.

The original copy of the thesis must be typed on 20-pound, 25 percent rag content thesis bond paper in the form prescribed by the Graduate School and by the departmental graduate committee of the major department. All copies must be reproduced on 20-pound, 25 percent rag content thesis bond paper. Arrangements for reproducing the thesis may be made with the campus printing services, or the reproduction may be done on a copy machine that accommodates the 20-pound, 25 percent rag content thesis bond paper. A short abstract of the thesis must accompany each copy to be placed in the library. The thesis must be typed double-spaced with a one and one-half inch left margin and with one-inch top, bottom and right margins. The page number is inside the margin and is placed in the upper right-hand corner inside the one-inch top and right margins.

It is the responsibility of the graduate student to contact the Graduate School to obtain a copy of the most current thesis guidelines and any other specific requirements for completion of the thesis. The thesis guidelines may also be found on the Graduate School web site at

The minimum number of copies of the thesis required by the Graduate School and the department is four. Some departments, however, may require additional copies for committee members, and the graduate student must meet this requirement. The student’s copy or copies are in addition to the minimum number required by the Graduate School and the department. Students must also submit a minimum of five search keywords and a signed clearance form for digital repository and dissemination by the Forsyth Library.

A binding fee for each copy of the thesis must be paid by the student who writes a thesis before the thesis can be accepted by the Graduate School. The current binding fee is $10 per copy for the four required copies and $15 for each additional copy. The binding fee must be paid no later than the time of filing the Intent to Graduate and the payment of the commencement fee. The Graduate School will submit the thesis to the library for binding and filing.

The thesis is due in the Graduate School two weeks before graduation in the fall and spring semesters and a week before graduation in the summer term. The specific date is listed in the class schedule. The thesis must be accepted by the Graduate Dean before the thesis requirement is met and before a grade is given for the thesis. Credit for the thesis is deferred until it is completed and is accepted by the Graduate Dean.


Each applicant for a graduate degree must satisfactorily pass a comprehensive examination over the subject fields of the program. The comprehensive examination is not merely a reexamination of materials covered in coursework but is a test of the graduate degree candidate’s ability to integrate materials from the graduate major and any related or supporting fields. If a student writes a thesis, the student will sit for a minimum of four hours of comprehensive examinations; if a student does not write a thesis, the student will sit for a minimum of eight hours of comprehensive examinations. Each department will determine the content of the comprehensive examination; the examination may be written and/or oral. Each department will develop comprehensive examination procedures that are congruent with Graduate School policy and publish and disseminate these procedures to all newly admitted graduate students in the first semester of graduate study.

The applicant must be admitted to candidacy before being eligible to take the comprehensive examination. Normally, the comprehensive examination is taken upon the completion of all courses in the program of study or during the final semester of enrollment.

A final oral examination over the thesis is required.

Departments may establish certain qualifying examinations to determine if further graduate work is required or if the student is making satisfactory progress in graduate study.

Classification After Graduation

All students who complete a graduate degree at FHSU are reclassified as non-degree graduate students upon program completion unless they are pursuing a second master’s or a specialist degree. This classification permits the graduate student to continue to take courses for graduate credit as needed to meet personal and professional needs. The non-degree graduate student who has a graduate degree from FHSU may be asked to update information on the original application so that all information will be correct.

Non-degree graduate students are required to maintain a 3.00 GPA in graduate courses at all times in order to retain eligibility to receive graduate credit and to remain in good academic standing in the Graduate School. A non-degree graduate student can be dismissed for not maintaining the required 3.00 GPA.

Students who wish to pursue a second Master’s or Specialist in Education degree will be required to complete a new application for admission in the new major.