Rutgers Degree Requirements

(Further detailed in the GSNB Handbook )

A.  Rutgers Ph.D. Requirements

Years:  ≥3 yrs full-time effort required


  • ≥72 billable credits required (i.e., course credits or research credits)
  • ≥24 must be research
  • ≤12 can be from undergraduate courses
  • ≤24 can be transfer credits; transfer credits must be ≤50% of total course credits and only if student has at least 12 credits as a Rutgers grad student)
  • Maximum # credits/semester = 16 (though one can obtain special permission to take an additional 1-2 billable credits):
    • 6 for GA or TA (non-billable credits for Graduate Assistants or Teaching Assistants)
    • ≤10 (to 12 by permission) course or research credits (billable credits)
    • [For GFs (Graduate Fellows), there is normally a 9 course or research credit limit.]
  • Minimum # credits/semester = 1 (This is typical for a student who is finished with coursework and who is not a TA, GA, or GF.)
  • No more than 9 credits with grades of C or C+ will be accepted toward Ph.D.

Transfer of credits: 

  • Must be in field of study
  • Must be within last 6 yrs
  • Can only be transferred after obtaining ≥12 course credits at Rutgers
  • ≥B’s only
  • ≤50% of total course credits can be transferred
  • ≤12 credits can be from undergraduate courses (taken while in grad school) provided these courses include “extra work” or get special approval

International students:

  • Must maintain full-time status throughout program to keep their student visas
  • Anytime the course load drops to ≤9 credits, must fill out a Reduced Course Load form.  (Otherwise, this could lead to loss of eligibility for on-campus housing.) 
  • Pre-qualifying exam:
    • If done with coursework, can register for 0 credits [Exceptions: (1) student is a GA or TA in which case s/he must register for ≥1 research or course credit and (2) student has not taken their 24 research credits yet in which case s/he must register for ≥3 research credits]
  • After qualifying exam (“ABD”):
    • Must register for ≥1 research credit until Ph.D. is conferred [Exceptions: (1) Oct. degrees don’t require registration in the last Fall semester, (2) student has not taken their 24 research credits yet in which case s/he must register for ≥3 research credits, and (3) If student is living on campus, s/he must register for ≥3 credits unless need <3 credits to graduate)

Domestic students:

  • Full-time status is required if student is supported by a TA or GA (9 credits, including the 6 TA or GA credits)
  • Part-time status is acceptable if student is not supported by a TA or GA, though must be registered with ≥1 course or research credit in order to be matriculated

Qualifying exam/committee:

  • The qualifying examshould be taken as soon as student has finished most of their course requirements
  • Must be ≥2 semesters before defense
  • Committee must have ≥4 members: advisor + 2 graduate program faculty + 1 outside faculty member
  • May be written, oral, or both

B.  Rutgers Master’s Degree Requirements

  • Years:  ≥1 yr of advanced academic study
  • Credits:  ≥30 required
    • Plan A: Thesis Masters: ≥12 course credits, must be at graduate level (500’s and 600’s); 6-12 research credits allowed
    • Plan B: Non-Thesis Master’s: ≥30 course credits (≥18 of which must be at graduate level: 500’s and 600’s)

Transfer of credits:

  • ≤12 credits can be transferred
  • ≥B’s only

Thesis and non-thesis options/Committee:  

  • Student can opt to write a thesis or graduate without writing a thesis
  • Supervision:  Student should be advised by the graduate program director, a committee director, and professor supervising his/her courses
  • Must have ≥3 members or associate members in their graduate program; one member will serve as chair
  • Graduate program director is usually involved in the committee selection
  • A thesis master’s committee (and not a non-thesis master’s committee) can include one non-program member (with approval of the graduate program director)
  • Must be registered for courses and/or research (Need ≥1 research credit/semester)
  • ≤3 semesters are allowed for research only

Final exam or paper or project: 

  • Must apply for candidacy to the master’s program ≥2 mos. before the final exam.  The master’s candidacy form must be provided to the committee chair at the time of the final exam.  After the exam, the student brings the form to the graduate program director to sign; then s/he returns the form to the Graduate School.
  • May be written, oral, or both
  • Can be the qualifying exam
  • Master’s thesis should be prepared in strict accordance with the instructions given in the Style Guide for Thesis and Dissertation Preparation
  • Must be approved by the professor in charge and accepted by other members of the committee
  • Student files a diploma application through registrar’s website
  • Thesis must be filed electronically with the Graduate School of New Brunswick