Special Studies (M.S., M.A.)

Requirements and Details

Special Studies students apply for the program through the School of Graduate Studies, which serves as a liaison between you and the programs and departments you will draw your courses from.

For admission consideration, you must meet minimum Graduate Studies admission requirements plus additional Special Studies requirements listed below: 

  • Open only to domestic students.
  • GRE is required.
  • Undergraduate GPA is closely reviewed. Most Special Studies students have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Submit a detailed Statement of Intent that includes specific details about your proposed program. 

Creating your program

As a Special Studies student you must plan your program before applying. This plan will include:

Final project choice

Choose your plan. This choice will affect the number of credits in your program.

  • Plan A (30 credits) is a thesis or creative work
  • Plan B (32 credits) is a starred paper or comprehensive exam
  • Plan C (36 credits) is a portfolio

List of potential classes

When compiling your list of potential courses, organize them by department and include the course department, number, title, number of credits and semester you are intending to take the course.

  • Identify the three areas of study from at least two or more academic departments to take your courses from. At least one of the departments must offer a Master of Arts, Master of Science or specialist degree.
  • Research, select and create a list of 500 and 600-level courses from your chosen departments. At least half the special studies credits must be 600-level.
  • Include research methodology and statistics courses if you are pursuing Plan A or Plan B.
  • List additional courses beyond the minimum required for your plan in case a course is not available.

Faculty Committee

You may choose and request the three faculty members who will serve on your admissions committee and who will also serve you as faculty advisers throughout your program and as your culminating project committee.

  • Contact three faculty members from your identified departments to serve on your admissions committee. 
  • Submit your recommended faculty to the graduate school for approval.
  • Discuss your course curriculum ideas with the faculty members and establish a relationship with them prior to your admissions conference.

Program Title

You will create a title for your special program. The title will need to be approved at the admissions conference. This is the title that will be featured on your St. Cloud State transcript and on your diploma.

The title should:

  • Be recognizable by your profession. 
  • Capture your skill set when presented on a resume. 

Statement of Intent

Your Statement of Intent must include:

  • A summary of your educational and career objectives, philosophy and background and how it has prepared you for the proposed degree and also describe the career or personal goals and professional needs that will be best met with a Special Studies degree. 
  • Why you are seeking a special study degree.
  • The departments or programs that will compose your proposed program.
  • The proposed title for your program.
  • The type of plan you are seeking — thesis, comprehensive exam or portfolio.
  • A list of proposed courses — organized by department and including the course number, course name, number of credits and semester you propose taking the course.

Admissions conference

Once all application materials are received, Graduate Studies will review your application and schedule your admissions conference.

The interview includes your faculty committee members and a representative from Graduate Studies.

During the hour-long interview you will:

  • Explain why you want to pursue a Special Studies degree.
  • Answer questions about your academic background, career or personal goals and professional needs.
  • Explain how quickly you plan to progress to the completion of your degree.

Following the interview, the committee will decide whether to admit you to the Special Studies program. The committee members will inform you of their decision at the meeting.

If you are admitted the committee will then:

  • Review your proposed title and curriculum.
  • Attempt to finalize the courses that will compose your program.
  • Submit a program form to Graduate Studies.

You will receive a formal admission or denial letter following the conference.