Degree Requirements

Requirements for the MS and PhD are similar to those of other research-focused graduate degrees. They are intended to develop a student’s research proficiency and hone the instructional and administrative skills needed to thrive in a university environment.

MS Degree Requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of 16 courses, selected in partnership with a special committee of faculty advisors, exploring research methods, theory, and application.
  • Be in residence at Cornell for a minimum of four semesters.
  • Prepare a master’s thesis according to the guidelines set forth by the Cornell Graduate School.
  • Pass the final examination, an oral exam given by the student’s special committee, covering the subject of the student’s master’s thesis.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

For more information about MS degree requirements, please refer to the Master of Science (MS) page in the Student Handbook.

PhD Degree Requirements:

  • Complete all course requirements outlined by the student’s special committee.
  • Pass the Examination for Admission to Candidacy.  Known at Cornell as the “A Exam,” the content and form of this exam are determined solely by the student’s special committee. It can be taken any time after completing two semesters in residence, but before the beginning of the seventh semester. Passing this exam means the graduate faculty believe the student is prepared to continue with a dissertation
  • Be in residence at Cornell for a minimum of six semesters. 
  • Prepare a doctoral dissertation according to the guidelines set forth by the Cornell Graduate School.
  • Complete an oral dissertation defense. This exam, known at Cornell as the “B Exam,” is taken after all other degree requirements have been met. The candidate must be in residence at Cornell for a minimum of two semesters between the A Exam and the scheduling of the B Exam.