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Degree Requirements

The general expectation of the department is that students will proceed effectively and directly toward the completion of degrees. A number of Graduate School and departmental regulations are intended to help fulfill these objectives. They deal with the following subjects:

  • Course grades are as follows: A -- distinguished; B -- good; C -- passing; and F -- failure. Intermediate grades of B+ or C+ also may be awarded. An Incomplete grade is available only on a limited basis. No more than one cumulative grade of Incomplete is permitted, and must be removed within one year. Students with more than one Incomplete will not be allowed to register for classes.

  • Time Limits. From the time of first registration, three years are permitted for completion of the M.A. and a total of seven years for completion of the Ph.D. The time for completion of the Ph.D. may be extended annually, for up to three additional years, by the Graduate Director, and thereafter only by special annual action of the Graduate Faculty. These time limits are enforced, and students failing to make continuing progress will have their studies terminated. Transfer credits are included proportionately in these limits.

  • A year's full-time residence at Rutgers is normally required of doctoral students.

  • Students' graduate studies may be terminated if they fail to maintain satisfactory academic or professional standards. Their records are reviewed periodically and termination generally will be recommended for students receiving more than two grades of C or worse in one semester, or four grades of C or worse in their cumulative record at Rutgers. A maximum of nine credits with a grade of C is permitted for the M.A., and a maximum of twelve credits with a grade of C toward the Ph.D.

  • Ph.D. students must pass a comprehensive exam in their major field of study and their first minor field. Both the major and minor examinations are given twice a year, usually over a week's time in November and April. The dates of examinations are announced at least a month in advance, at which time students are asked to inform the Graduate Department of their intention to take these tests, along with a statement of the field and sub-field to be taken.

  • Ph.D. students also are required to register for 24 hours of research credits, usually with their dissertation advisor. While in most cases these credits are taken after passing qualifying exams, under some circumstances it may be advantageous to take some of these credits in an earlier year. Students need the permission of their advisor and the graduate vice chair before doing so.

    Before registering for research credits, students should speak with their advisor and come to an agreement about what research should be accomplished in the semester for the student to receive an “S” grade for the credits. This may mean making measurable progress on a prospectus draft, data collection, the writing of one or more chapters, etc. The student and adviser should stay in regular contact about the student's progress over the course of the semester.

    Students who do not make adequate progress may be given an “IN” grade or a “U” grade. Incomplete grades may be changed to an “S” by the professor if the student makes up the work within two semesters. “U” grades receive no credit toward the degree and cannot be changed. Students who receive “U” or “IN” grades in two successive semesters will be considered no longer in good standing and risk the loss of any subsequent Rutgers funding. Such cases will be referred to the Graduate Program Committee for a decision.

    Every effort should be made to enroll in these 24 credits while the student is still funded. Students should keep in mind, however, that to remain in good standing, all students must register for at least one credit every semester until the dissertation defense. Students should plan ahead and avoid unnecessary payments by accumulating no more than 24 credits.

  • Occasionally, students decide to end their graduate studies before writing the dissertation. In such cases students who do not already have a masters degree from another institution may apply for a terminal masters degree from Rutgers. To receive a terminal masters degree, students must (1) complete 30 credits of graduate coursework from Rutgers, and (2) either a) pass the minor exam in their field of specializations; or b) write a master's thesis, which must be read and approved by a thesis adviser and one other reader from the major field of specialization.

  • Upon completion of his or her qualifying examinations, a doctoral student will commence the serious individual research which culminates in the dissertation. The dissertation is intended to evidence the student's ability to perform a significant and extensive individual work that merits his or her acceptance into the community of scholars. To this end students should consider their dissertations as leading to significant publication in the form of professional journal articles or books.

    Assistance and direction are provided by a supervisor and dissertation committee, appointed by the Vice Chair for Graduate Studies, after consultation with the student and relevant faculty members. While this assistance is vital and freely given, completion of the dissertation ultimately depends on the individual's own research, imagination, preparation, and simple persistence.

    The dissertation committee consists of four persons, normally three political scientists and a relevant outside faculty member, from another university or from another discipline at Rutgers. The chair of the dissertation committee is the person with whom the student will work most closely on his or her dissertation. The chair is not appointed unless both the faculty member and the student agree to work together.

    After the student has prepared an elaborate statement (perhaps ultimately a first chapter) of the purposes, scope, methods and sources of the dissertation research that is satisfactory to the chair of the dissertation committee, the committee is then convened to evaluate this initial prospectus.

    The formal dissertation prospectus should be presented to the committee within six months of the completion of the qualifying examinations. See Dissertation Prospectus: Guidelines for Political Science Graduate Student. At this stage, any member of the dissertation committee has the right to insist that the student revise his or her thinking along specified lines; but once the dissertation committee approves the prospectus, its members are no longer entitled to insist on major revisions in the purpose, scope or methodology of the dissertation. Their role thereafter is rather one of assessing whether the student effectively carried out the research project to which they had given their approval.

Because individual cases are not always met by general rules, special exemptions to any departmental regulations may be granted by action of the faculty (with a minimum quorum of ten). Appeals for such action are made simply by a written request of the student. After an appeal is considered, it may be reconsidered only if such action is requested by the Graduate Director or written request of any five faculty members.

The Graduate Diploma application, obtainable from the Registrar or the Graduate School Office, must be completed and submitted by each candidate before April 2 for a diploma bearing the date of the May commencement, by October 2 for a diploma dated October, and by January 2 for a diploma dated January. Unless the application is filed by the appropriate time, the degree will not be conferred and graduation will necessarily be delayed, in some cases by as much as one year. There is no fee for the MA diploma.

Academic degree requirements, including the completed application for admission to candidacy, must be completed and fees for microfilming and thesis binding paid by April 2, for a May degree; for October, requirements and fees should be taken care of by October 2, and for January, by January 2.

A candidate who is unable to complete the academic degree requirements by the latest date allowed by the department offices and the office of the Dean, and who must therefore apply for a later diploma, must complete a new diploma application.

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