Transfer to the Ph.D. Program before Completion of the M.S. Degree

Transfer to the Ph.D. program before completion of the M.S. degree

*Note that this document applies to students who applied to and were admitted to the M.S. program but, in consultation with their advisor, wish to instead get a PhD without first getting a M.S. degree. More general details are also provided in Graduate Student Handbook.

Normal Standards for Admission to PhD program:
The Position Statement on Graduate Admissions and Teaching Assistantships document outlines the following admission standards, which also serve as guidelines in MS to PhD conversion:

1.         An undergraduate GPA of 3.4 or better for admission to the Ph.D. program for students without a Masters degree, and a Graduate GPA of 3.6 or better for students that have completed a Master’s degree.|
2.         An average score of 60% or better on the Verbal and Quantitative parts of the GRE and 4.5 or better on the Analytical Written part of the GRE.

The GSC committee recognizes that there is a fundamental difference between being a top student in the classroom and an excellent research student. Therefore, the GSC committee proposes that the standards applied to students wishing to convert from the MS to PhD program without completion of the MS degree be on a case-by-case basis.  Primary emphasis is made on an evaluation of solid progress on PhD-level research within the first 18 months.  Evidence of research progress is:

*First author abstract submitted to a national meeting (AGU, GSA and similar)
*First author publication in progress.
*Successful application for graduate fellowships from national programs (e.g. NSF, DOE, NASA and similar)
*Successful application for competitive funding from external sources
*Other achievement in their research area showing ability to complete 3 publishable papers in 4-5 years.

This is not a mechanism for which students who have been in the MS program for more than 2 years can gain more time as students in SES.

Administrative Procedures, and role of student and advisor:
Students wishing to convert from MS to PhD must have the support from their academic advisor to make the conversion. 

Within 18 months of beginning the MS program, a student can petition to the GSC for permission to switch status from the MS to PhD program.  The petition includes:|

*A letter from the student requesting the conversion, describing their research, and list faculty with whom they have had significant interaction who can comment on their abilities.
*A letter from the student’s research advisor in support of the conversion outlining the evidence for PhD-level abilities.  1-2 additional letters from faculty familiar with the student’s work thus far will also normally be requested.  

The process needs to be completed by the end of the middle of the Spring Semester of the student’s second year.

Students granted a conversion will be expected to take their qualifying exams and submit a dissertation proposal on the same schedule as other PhD students based on matriculation date, not their MS to PhD conversion date.

In the event that this student either fails the qualifying exams or fails to complete the dissertation in a timely fashion, then the student may reapply to the Graduate School to the MS program.  A MS thesis will remain a requirement for the MS degree.

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