Chapter 3 – Master’s programs

The School of Education offers three types of master’s degrees: Master or Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, and Master of Science. Master of Science (M.S.) students complete independent research for a thesis as the culmination of their degree. Master of Education programs differ with respect to possible culminating projects. Some students may complete a non-thesis (creative component) project, while others may complete professional portfolios or action research projects as part of coursework only degrees. The sections below provide information about the milestones for degree completion and the associated timelines for all SOE master’s programs.

3.1 – Master’s program milestones & timeline

Milestone 1: Forming a committee and completing the Program of Study (no later than the semester prior to graduation)

School of Education master’s students must form a Program of Study Committee (POSC) of advisers who will assist in guiding and evaluating progress through the graduate program. This committee is responsible for approving the student Program of Study, reviewing student progress, and approving final project (thesis and creative component only). All POSCs require a major professor, who will act as the primary adviser for the committee.

  • POSC for coursework only: One major professor
  • POSC for M.Ed. creative component: One major professor, one committee member
  • POSC for M.S. thesis: One major professor, one committee member inside the School of Education, one committee member outside the School of Education

The Program of Study (POS) should be developed with the major professor, with full committee approval. The POS is used to assure that all program and college requirements are met. This form must be approved by the Graduate College and can be submitted online through AccessPlus (go to the “Student” tab and then choose “Graduate Student Status”).

Non-degree courses policy: With the approval of the POSC, master’s students may use up to 9 credits taken at ISU as a non-degree seeking student on a master’s POSC.

Transferred/expired courses policy: With the approval of the POSC, master’s students may transfer up to 9 credits of graduate coursework form other universities. Up to 6 credits of expired coursework between 8 and 10 years old may be used on a master’s POSC. Courses older than 10 years old cannot be used on a master’s POSC.

Milestone 2: Final oral examination or coursework only report form (completed during the final semester)

Thesis/creative component programs

All students pursuing a master’s degree with a thesis or creative component work with their major professor to develop a proposal for the thesis or creative component. This proposal is shared with the committee prior to a meeting between the student and the committee to discuss the proposal and agree upon the expectations for the final product.

The student then completes the thesis or creative component with guidance from the major professor and committee members. The final written product is shared with the committee at least two weeks prior to the final oral examination.

All coursework in the program of study must either be completed or in progress before the final oral examination can be scheduled.

Note: The request for final oral examination must be submitted a minimum of 3 weeks prior to the final oral examination through the Graduate College website. Once you have confirmed a date and time for your final examination with your committee, contact the graduate support specialist to reserve a room for the oral; the graduate support specialist will submit the online request for final oral examination to the Graduate College. Also, please let the graduate support specialist know if you have a committee member who intends to participate in the exam from a distance.

Coursework only programs

For master’s students in coursework only programs, the graduate support specialist will submit the coursework only final check online form for the student during their final semester, provided the student has successfully completed the requirements of the Coursework Only Final Check. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the below requirements are met by the Graduate College’s stated deadline during their final semester.

Coursework only final check requirements: 

  • The student is on full admission status.
  • Program of Study and Committee (POSC) was submitted to the Graduate College by the published deadline the term before this form was submitted.
  • All coursework on the POSC has been completed or is currently in progress. Any changes have been requested by the major professor in writing and have been approved by the Graduate College.
  • The English requirement has been met.
  • The student is not on academic probation.
  • All F or NP marks have been repeated or the major professor has sent a petition to the Graduate College asking that the student be allowed to graduate with the F or NP mark remaining on the student’s record.
  • The student has a GPA of at least 3.00. No grade lower than a C may appear on the POSC.
  • The 7-year time limit has not been exceeded.
  • All incompletes have been or will be completed by the deadline for completion of the graduate student approved form. See degree deadline summary.
  • A graduation application has been submitted to the Graduate College.
  • Required coursework was registered for prior to or during the term of graduation. Any transfer credits must be completed and the transcript submitted for review the term before graduation. Normal transfer rules apply.
  • Written notification has been submitted from the student’s minor department to the Graduate College indicating the requirements for the minor have been met without being tested at a final oral examination (if applicable)

Master’s program timeline

Master’s students must complete milestone 1 (an approved POSC) no later than the semester prior to graduation. See the Graduate College “dates and deadlines” for specific deadlines each semester. Most master’s programs are completed in two to three years; the Graduate College expects that master’s students complete their degrees in no more than seven years.

3.2 – Coursework for the master’s 

All master’s students are required to take at least 30 credits, which is the Graduate College minimum for a master’s degree. In some instances, divisions or areas may have degree offerings that require more than 30 credits. If this is the case, the student is required to meet the specific credit requirements of the division or area.

Independent study 590 & 690 courses

Students who register for a School of Education independent study 590 or 690 courses will need to work with the faculty member supervising their independent study to complete a course agreement form to outline the parameters and expectations of the independent study. Generally, 590 is used for master’s level independent study work, while 690 is used for doctoral level work. A copy of this course agreement form should be shared with the graduate support specialist for your file.

3.3 – Master of Arts in Teaching

Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T) students complete coursework and field experiences to be recommended for initial teacher licensure. Courses are determined by program faculty and Iowa Board of Educational Examiners requirements. The M.A.T is a coursework only program.

3.4 – Master of Education

M.Ed. students in a coursework only program must meet the requirements of their emphasis area. Students should meet with their major professor and Program of Study Committee to review the Area requirements.

The Division of Teaching, Learning, Leadership, and Policy and the Division of Higher Education have specific requirements for their M.Ed. programs in addition to the school requirements listed below. 

All M.Ed. students not in a coursework only program are required to complete a core of six credits. The core includes:

  • One research course (3 credits)
  • Creative component (3 credits of 599)
    • The form of the creative component is determined by the Program of Study Committee.

3.5 – Master of Science

All M.S. students are required to complete a core of 12 credits. The core includes:

  • At least two research courses (6 credits)
  • One course outside their primary area of study (3 credits)
    • This could include outside of the School of Education
  • Thesis (3 credits of 699)
    • The form of the thesis is determined by the Program of Study Committee

In addition to this core, the Division of Teaching, Learning, Leadership, and Policy has division-specific requirements that must be met. Students in TLLP should meet with their major professor and Program of Study Committee to review the requirements to make sure all requirements are met.