Master of Science (MS)

Summary of Graduation Requirement

  • Complete a minimum of 16 courses that your special committee has decided are appropriate, including methods, theory, and application.
  • Be in residence at Cornell for a minimum of four semesters.
  • Take a minimum of 12 credits per semester for a total of 48 credits.
  • Prepare a master's thesis, according to the guidelines set forth by the Cornell Graduate School, before the deadline of early May of your graduation year.
  • Please see the Graduate School's Code of Legislation for more information.
  • Pass the final examination for the master's degree, an oral exam given by your special committee, covering your master's thesis.
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Residency/Registration Unit Requirements

While the Graduate School requires two registration units at a minimum (two semesters of full-time study; Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 21), the School of Hotel Administration (SHA) requires that all MS students be in residence at Cornell for a minimum of four semesters (for 4 registration units; one registration unit represents the satisfactory completion of one academic semester of full-time study or research).

A student may earn registration units over the summer through regularly scheduled Cornell courses or extramural study, by registering concurrently in the Graduate School and Cornell's School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions. The number of credit hours completed determines the registration units awarded: 6 credit hours earn one half of a registration unit and 11 credit hours earn one registration unit (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 22). Master's degree students may not count study in other graduate schools toward the registration unit requirement (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 23).

Registration is required every semester until either withdrawal or completion of degree, unless a leave of absence is granted. Each regular-degree student is expected to complete the registration unit requirement with reasonable continuity (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 21). All requirements for the master's degree must be completed within four years after a student’s first registration in the Graduate School (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p.39). In special circumstances, a master's degree student may earn registration units for work done in absentia (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 25).

Course Requirements

Each master's student is required to complete a minimum of 16 courses that his/her special committee has decided are appropriate to his/her area of study. In addition, each master’s student is required to register for one major and one minor. The special committee member who represents an approved subject or concentration on a special committee determines the specific requirements for the student (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 33).

Additionally:

  • Physical Education (PE) courses do not count toward required graduation credits.
  • Graduate elective credit is not given for 1000- or 2000-level courses. Students also will not receive elective credit in 3000- or 4000-level courses if there is an equivalent graduate course.
  • A students must receive permission from his/her special committee chair to receive credit for undergraduate courses taken outside SHA.

Grade Requirement

The Graduate School imposes no grade requirements on candidates; each special committee decides whether the student is making satisfactory progress toward the degree (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 21).

Chair and Special Committee

Students must select their special committee chair by the third week of their first semester and committee members by the start of classes in their second semester.

Thesis Requirements

Each student is required to complete a master's thesis according to the guidelines set forth by the Cornell Graduate School, found at Thesis Guidelines. Student are expected to know the timeline required to fully complete their theses in order to graduate.

Ordinarily, the thesis or dissertation is written in the student's major subject of study and under the direction of the chair of the special committee. With the approval of the committee, a student may elect to write the thesis or dissertation under the direction of the representative of a minor subject. The special committee for each student may consider the thesis a major or minor part of the degree requirements (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 37).

Examination Requirements

Passing an oral exam given by your special committee, covering your master's thesis, is required to complete your degree. Members of the graduate faculty other than members of the special committee are welcome at all examinations required by the graduate faculty. The special committee chair provides an opportunity for them to question the student. The determination of pass or fail rests exclusively with the members of the special committee, including any field-appointed member or members. For a student to pass an examination, all regular, proxy, and field-appointed members of the examining committee must approve. The examining committee reports its decision to the Graduate School within three business days of the exam (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 34).

Students schedule exams with the Graduate School at least seven calendar days in advance. The director of graduate studies in the student's field announces exams to members of the graduate faculty so that they may attend (Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, p. 33).

Faculty Advising

One of the most significant parts of graduate school is your relationship with the faculty. Your special committee chair is also your faculty advisor, and along with the other members of your special committee, can offer you academic advice, career planning, and networking contacts based on expertise and depth of connections within the industry.

Career Advising

Career-planning and job-search questions should be directed to your special committee chair. If additional assistance is needed, please contact the director for graduate programs in the Office of Student Services.

Leave of Absence (LOA)

Occasionally students need to interrupt their studies by requesting a leave of absence because of extenuating circumstances beyond their control. Three types of leaves are available to graduate students:

  • Medical leave
  • Personal leave
  • Part-time study leave

To apply for a LOA, you must complete and submit the LOA form to the SHA Office of Student Services. Your request is reviewed by the graduate committee and the director of graduate studies. If approved, it is forwarded to the Graduate School for approval. Approval is not automatic and only students in good academic standing may request a LOA.

To be readmitted, you must submit the request in writing to the Office of Student Services.