General Structure of Graduate Degree Programs in the College of Education
The Graduate Advisor
Every graduate student will plan his or her graduate program with the help of a member of the graduate faculty who serves as an advisor. The relationship between student and advisor is distinctive in graduate education. Ideally, the advisor is both mentor and advocate for the student. Although a faculty advisor may be initially assigned for a student, it is the student’s prerogative to change advisors. When a need or desire to change an advisor arises, the Request for Advisor form is used to make the change formal. This form is available at the Educational Theory and Practice office in the College of Education. All affected parties should be contacted by the student seeking a change.
Graduate Level Coursework
For any master’s degree in education or counseling, at least 50 percent of the total credits (including electives) included in an approved plan of study must be taken in coursework at the 500 level or above. In addition, at least 50 percent of the total credits (including electives) must be taken within the College of Education.
The remainder of the total credit requirements (including electives) must be chosen from any post-baccalaureate or upper division undergraduate courses (300-499) subject to approval by the faculty advisor and advisory committee (if required by the student’s program). Elective courses proposed in the plan of study must clearly contribute to overall program coherence in keeping with the degree and option designation.
The Professional Core
The Professional Core has been designed to build upon undergraduate professional education courses and provides a foundation for graduate study in specific disciplines within the fields of teacher education and counselor education.
The Professional Core consists of six semester credits required of all candidates for the Master of Education Degree, or the Master of Science in Special Education Degree. The core has been designed to provide graduate students with advanced knowledge and application of:
- Human growth, development, and diversity; and
- Research design, interpretation, and analysis.
|EDF 501 Research Design and Interpretation||3|
|EDF 530 Advanced Human Development
|Total Required Semester Core Credits||6|
Students electing the Thesis Track or the Interdisciplinary Studies Option must have an advisory committee. Recommendations for members of the advisory committee are submitted by the student and student’s advisor to the unit chairperson and Dean for approval as part of the individual’s plan of study.
The advisory committee will include at least three faculty members. The student’s advisor will serve as chairperson and at least one other graduate faculty member from the same unit will serve on the committee. The third graduate faculty member may be drawn from outside the major field. Additional members from beyond the graduate faculty and/or the campus community may be included as the need for such diversity warrants. If the members of the advisory committee need to be changed, all affected parties should be informed.
Procedures for Completing a Master’s Degree in Education or Counseling
Plan of Study Approval Procedure
Each graduate student who intends to complete a master’s degree in the College of Education must prepare, in consultation with her or his advisor, an individualized plan of study. Regular admission students may file this plan of study during their initial semester and must do so by the time the second semester is underway. The plan of study, together with necessary attachments and recommended signatures, is used by the Dean of the College of Education as a basis for Admission to Candidacy of students for their particular degrees.
Those students who include more than 12 credits of work from Montana State University Billings when they submit their plan of study for approval have increased risk of having course work they have taken not accepted toward their degree. Moreover, if a student’s plan of study has not been approved by the end of the student’s first semester of full-time attendance at MSU Billings, he or she ceases being eligible for financial aid.
Once the plan of study is signed by the appropriate individuals and approved by the Dean of Education, the student is accepted into Candidacy Status. This approved plan of study serves as an agreement between the student and the University.
Changes in a Plan of Study
Students who wish to initiate a change in an approved plan of study within the same degree and option must do so by submitting a “Change of Plan of Study” request. When approved by advisor, unit chairperson, and Dean, the change will be recorded on the original Plan. The student has the right to follow the program requirements outlined in the Graduate Catalog in effect when the plan of study was approved. To make changes of degree, a student must file a new plan of study. It is important that approval for a change is received before proceeding with the work.
Oral Thesis Defense
Those students writing a thesis will orally defend their thesis. The date, time, and place of the defense will be arranged by the student in consultation with the advisory committee. All defenses are to occur at least two weeks before the last day of classes in the term in which the student expects to graduate. Defenses are open to anyone in the academic community who might wish to attend. The Office of Graduate Studies is responsible for informing the MSU Billings community of the date, time, and location of the defense.
Each spring, shortly before the end of the semester, a special convocation is held during which all graduating undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Education are honored.