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Plan of Study

Each graduate student admitted to a degree program must submit a plan of study. Although there are no Graduate School requirements for the specific number of credit hours of courses that must appear on the plan of study (except for non-thesis plans of study), the plan must be appropriate to meet the needs of the student in his or her chosen field, as determined by the advisory committee and approved by the head of the graduate program, the college dean (if requested by the college), and the dean of the Graduate School. The plan of study includes a primary area and may include a related area or areas that are chosen on the basis of the student's interests and needs. It is to include the specific courses the student is expected to complete and other requirements of the particular degree being sought. Research credits (69800 or 69900) are not to appear on the plan of study. The number of credit hours of research should reflect the graduate student’s research and writing efforts.

Doctoral degree requirements may only be satisfied by 69900 credits; however, under certain conditions, 69900 credits may be applied toward the requirements of a thesis master’s degree. A request to use 69900 credits to satisfy master’s degree requirements must be submitted to the Graduate School explaining the need for the use of the 69900 credits and listing which credits (based on session taken) are to be used. This request must be signed by the major professor and the head of the graduate program. These 69900 credits, used to satisfy master’s degree requirements, will no longer be eligible to be used for the Ph.D. degree, unless they are utilized as part of the up to 30 credits potentially allowed for use from a master’s degree toward a doctoral degree. A tentative plan of study should be drawn up in advance of registration for the first session of graduate work, and the formal plan of study should be submitted electronically as soon as possible (by the end of the third session for doctoral students and by the end of the first session for master’s students). For plans of study that are not submitted electronically, the Request for Master's Degree Advisory Committee and Plan of Study Approval (G.S. Form 6) is used for master's degree programs. The Request for Ph.D. Degree Advisory Committee and Plan of Study Approval (G.S. Form 4) is used for doctoral degree programs. The Request for Educational Specialist Degree Advisory Committee and Plan of Study Approval (G.S. Form 2) is used for educational specialist degree programs.


1. Developing the Plan of Study

a. Requirements Applicable to any Plan of Study Course credits earned by a student whose graduate study and/or professional activity has been inactive for five years or more cannot be used on a plan of study for an advanced degree. A plan of study approved prior to such a period of inactivity is invalid. Additional requirements that depend on the status of the student when the course was taken are as follows:

(1) Courses Taken as a Graduate Student at Purdue University Neither 10000- nor 20000-level courses may appear on a plan of study. Otherwise, requirements for the numerical level (30000 through 60000) of courses are determined by each department or administrative unit subject to the restriction that not more than a total of six 30000- or 40000- level course credit hours, with a grade of B- or better, may appear on a plan of study.

(2) Courses Taken in Non-Degree, Teacher License, or Graduate Certificate Status at Purdue University Although there is no limit to the number of course credit hours that an individual may accumulate while registered in any of these classifications, no more than 12 total hours of credit earned (with a grade of C- or higher) in non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate status may be used on a plan of study. However, if an application to a degree program is approved during the session in which a person is enrolled for the 12th credit hour as a non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate student, all credits taken prior to and during that session will be eligible for inclusion on a plan of study for a degree program, providing the courses are appropriate to the degree program and the courses and grades are acceptable first to the department and then to the Graduate School. Please note that the above limitation on course credit hours taken in non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate status that can be used on a plan of study will be modified if excess undergraduate credit also is to be applied to the plan of study.

(3) Courses Taken as Excess Undergraduate Credit Graduate course credits earned while an undergraduate at Purdue University or other accredited institutions of higher learning may be applied toward an advanced degree if these credits are in excess of any requirements for the baccalaureate degree. Such credits must be certified as available for graduate credit by the institution from which the student received his/her baccalaureate degree, but will be accepted only if: 1. The student had junior or senior standing when taking the course, 2. The student received a grade of B or better (work taken under the pass/not-pass option is not acceptable), 3. The course was designated as a graduate course. At Purdue University only, if the work is completed satisfactorily on this basis, the academic advisor (or candidate coordinator or other designee) shall then complete the Academic Record Change (Registrar Form 350), which indicates that the course may be used for graduate credit, and submit the form to the registrar, along with the grade reported, at the close of the student’s final term. The academic advisor’s (or candidate coordinator’s or designee’s) signature will attest to the fact that the credit is in excess of that required for the baccalaureate degree so that the registrar can then enter the notation “available for graduate credit” on the student’s record. The sum of credits earned as undergraduate excess and the credits earned in graduate non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate status that can be used on a plan of study is limited to 12 credit hours except as stated above. Any additional conditions under which excess undergraduate credit may be used for graduate credit are determined by the various departments (Graduate Council, April 16, 1992).

(4) Graduate Courses Taken as a Non-degree Undergraduate Student after Receipt of the Baccalaureate Degree Graduate courses taken as an undergraduate student, even if completed after receipt of the baccalaureate degree and with the intent to use the credits toward a graduate degree program, are not eligible to satisfy requirements for a graduate degree.

(5) Combined Degree Program Credits If students are admitted to an approved combined degree program, they are permitted to use a certain number of credits to apply toward both undergraduate and graduate degrees (as outlined in the approved program proposal). Such courses must be listed on the graduate plan of study, and a supplemental note must be added to the plan of study indicating those courses that are to be used for both degrees.

(6) Courses Taken as a Graduate Student at Other Accredited Institutions of Higher Learning Subject to the restrictions stated below, credits earned for graduate study at other universities (both domestic and international) may be applied toward an advanced degree. Only credit hours associated with graduate courses for which grades of B- or better were obtained will be eligible for transfer. Any additional conditions under which credit transfers may be made are determined by the various departments. b. Requirements Applicable to a Master's Plan of Study A minimum of 30 hours of graded credits (69800 and 69900 courses are excluded) are required on a plan of study for a non-thesis option master’s degree. Fewer than 30 credit hours of coursework may be listed on the plan of study for a thesis option master’s degree, providing there is a total of at least 30 hours of coursework and research credits. A maximum of nine Purdue credit hours of coursework at the 50000- and 60000- level used to satisfy the requirements of one (and only one) Purdue master’s degree may be used on the plan of study for a second Purdue master’s degree. However, if an individual is admitted to a second Ph.D. program and has at least two master’s degrees, a maximum of thirty credits from the master’s degree which was not used toward the individual’s first Ph.D. degree may, with the agreement of the advisory committee, be used toward the second degree. Coursework used to satisfy the requirements of a master’s degree from an institution other than Purdue may not be used on a Purdue master’s plan of study. c. Requirements Applicable to a Ph.D. Plan of Study Up to 30 credits earned from one (and only one) master’s degree, Educational Specialist degree, or doctoral professional degree may be used on the plan of study for a Doctor of Philosophy degree. For such credits to apply to the doctoral degree program, the number of credits to apply must be noted on the doctoral plan of study. Graduate students using nine credits from one Purdue master’s degree toward another Purdue master’s degree may use a maximum of 30 credits from only one of the Purdue master’s degrees toward the Purdue Ph.D. degree.

2. Filing the Plan of Study

A plan of study should be submitted for approval as early as is feasible (by the end of the third session for doctoral students and by the end of the first session for master’s students) in the student's study. Furthermore, it must be received by the Graduate School, with all advisory committee, department/school, and college signatures, prior to the first day of the academic session of graduation. Students not meeting this deadline will be assessed a Late Graduation Deadline Fee if they want to remain on the candidate roster for the current term. Students may be asked to register for the following session to receive the degree. (Departments may set earlier deadlines.) The plan of study will not be approved until all technical conditions have been met, and normally all academic conditions of admission must have been met.

Course Changes in the Plan of Study

Course changes to the plan of study must be submitted electronically via myPurdue if the plan of study was submitted electronically. Course changes on a paper plan of study should be requested on the Request for Change to the Plan of Study (G.S. Form 13). The Graduate School regards the plan of study as an individualized curriculum designed by the advisory committee to assist the student in achieving his or her educational objectives. Although changes in the plan of study may be necessary, each change requested must be accompanied by a brief rationale in the space provided. Poor performance in a course is not an appropriate reason for removing a course from the plan of study. A request for changes in a plan of study must be signed by the student and approved by the major professor, the head of the graduate program, and the college dean (if requested by the college).

4. Fulfilling the Plan of Study Course Requirements

Graduate courses taken while registered as a graduate student at Purdue University may be considered for fulfilling the plan of study requirements only if the student has received grades of C- or better. These course grades must meet departmental requirements, such as limits on the number of C-, C, or C+ grades permitted, grades of A, A-, B, or B- in certain courses, and/or minimum GPA for courses on the plan of study. For courses at the 30000- or 40000- level taken as a graduate student or courses that represent either undergraduate excess credit or transfer credit, grades of B- or better are required for fulfilling plan of study requirements. Once again, departments and advisory committees may set higher standards. Courses taken as pass/not pass or satisfactory/unsatisfactory are unacceptable on plans of study. Research credits (69800 and 69900) cannot be included on a plan of study. Except in cases of a staff error, grade option changes will not be approved by the Graduate School. It is expected that staff errors will be detected early and corrections requested within the normal drop/add period.