School of Graduate Studies

Graduate Faculty Handbook

We offer these resources for faculty members who teach, advise and mentor graduate students.

Contact the Director of Graduate Student Services if you have suggestions for additional resources.

Academic Policies


We are pleased to offer awards that recognize the outstanding research and creative accomplishments of our graduate students.

Explore the opportunities available to showcase the important contributions made by our students.

Distinguished Thesis Awards

St. Cloud State University Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award

Our Faculty Association Graduate Committee and School of Graduate Studies recognizes one outstanding thesis completed during the most recent academic year or summer. The thesis is then nominated for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Thesis Award.

Each master’s program with a thesis option is encouraged to select and submit one outstanding thesis based on these guidelines for eligibility, the nominating process and deadlines.

Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Thesis Award

Each university in the Midwest is allowed to submit one thesis for the award, which recognizes scholarship and research at the master’s level.

The student whose thesis is selected to receive the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' Distinguished Thesis Award receives a $750 honorarium and travel expenses to attend the association's annual conference.

Campus Community Awards

Excellence in Leadership Award

This award identifies and honors students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership at St. Cloud State University. It recognizes students who, through their leadership efforts, have made significant contributions to the university and their communities based on an evaluation of their academic commitment and their leadership experiences.

Excellence in Leadership Award applications are typically due in January and awarded at an April banquet.


Commencement and Graduation


Complete the graduation application.

It must be completed by the deadline listed for the semester in which you plan to graduate and submitted to Records and Registration (Administrative Services 118) with the $30 application fee for master-level students and $35 for doctoral students.

Students missing the deadline to apply for graduation will need to apply for the next available graduation date. 

Students who do not graduate during the application term, must contact the office of Records and Registration to request a new term. No additional fee will be required.

Students must be registered for at least one credit in the term in which they intend to graduate. 


  • Online graduation checklist 
  • Deadlines for final defense/final oral examination or comprehensive examination and submission of final documentation. 

Graduation Dates and Deadlines

Deadlines and dates for completion
Intended Graduation Application Deadline Graduation Date
Fall I Sept. 3, 2021 Oct. 22, 2021
Fall II Sept. 17, 2021 Dec. 17, 2021
Spring I Jan 21, 2022 March 25, 2022
Spring II Feb. 4, 2022 May 6, 2022
Summer I May 13, 2022 June 23, 2022
Summer II June 24, 2022 Aug. 4, 2022


You can find information and RSVP online for Commencement.

Academic Regalia

We encourage students to honor the centuries-old history of academic regalia by wearing the regalia appropriate to their degree and academic discipline.

The American Council on Education provides guidance on appropriate academic regalia and its history.

Master's Caps, Gowns and Hoods

Caps, master's gowns and hoods can be purchased at the Husky Bookstore in Centennial Hall or at 320-308-1489 beginning in November/April.

Hood Trim

  • Master of Arts (White)
  • Master of Business Administration (Drab)
  • Doctor of Education/Specialist (Light Blue)
  • Master of Engineering Management (Orange)
  • Master of Public Administration (Peacock Blue)
  • Master of Science (Golden Yellow)
  • Master of Social Work (Citron)

Doctoral Tams, Gowns and Hoods

Doctoral tams and gowns can be rented and the hoods can be purchased at the Husky Bookstore in Centennial Hall or at 320-308-1489 beginning in November/April.

Students wishing to purchase custom-ordered academic regalia should contact the Husky Bookstore. It can take up to 10 weeks for a custom order.

Receiving Your Diploma

Graduating students will receive their diploma in the mail about eight weeks after the end of the semester.

All diplomas are mailed to the diploma address you provide through the Online Service center.

If you experience difficulty in entering your diploma address, contact 320-308-2111.

Culminating Projects Masters Level

The School of Graduate Studies offers the following completion options.

Plan A:  Thesis

  • Program is 30 credits minimum.
  • Course number: 699, must register for a total of 6 graduate credits.
  • Completion requirements: Requires a committee of 3, a preliminary and final conference, must use S/U grading, letter grades are not permitted.

A thesis is a document written in support of obtaining an academic degree. It is usually longer than a research paper and thus completed over the course of two or more semesters. A thesis is associated with graduate studies and is carried out under a supervision of a professor or an academic of the university.

A thesis requires the demonstration of individual academic research and the evidence of capacity for critical analysis. A thesis also requires the input of original work and author’s findings on the chosen topic. When choosing a topic for a thesis the author must take into consideration the expectation of originality in the field or the input of some relevant new information or ideas.

Plan A: Creative Work

  • Program is 30 credits minimum.
  • Course number: 698, must register for a total of 6 graduate credits.
  • Completion requirements: Requires a committee of 3, a preliminary and final conference, must use S/U grading, letter grades are not permitted.

A student interested in completing a creative work as may be required by a specific department, or in lieu of the traditional master's degree thesis, must show evidence of creative ability before being accepted as a candidate for the advanced degree.

The creative work includes a written statement of artistic intent and such supporting materials as are applicable. The statement of artistic intent may contain such information as a description of the work undertaken; the technique(s) involved in the work, and related subject matter.

Plan A: Field Study

  • Course number: 686, 3 graduate credits.
  • Completion requirements: Requires a committee of 3, a preliminary and final conference, must use S/U grading, letter grades are not permitted.

A field study examines a problem in educational administration and is completed as the culminating project for the Specialist Degree.

Plan B: Starred Paper

  • Program is 32 credits minimum.
  • Course number: No set course number, may be 0-3 credits for the Starred Paper.
  • Completion requirements: Requires a committee of 3, a preliminary and final conference, usually graded S/U.

In a starred paper the author simply provides constructive critical analysis of existing theories or viewpoints without necessarily offering any new ones. In short, academic requirements for a starred paper do not generally include original research.

A starred paper is an analysis or review of literature.

Plan B: Capstone

  • Program is 32 credits minimum.
  • Course number: Often 670 or 690,  may be 1-6 credits.
  • Completion requirements: Course must be completed with a B or better or S if S/U grading, completed in final semester.

A capstone project is an assignment and other work completed for a capstone course.  The department determines the requirements in order to receive a grade for the capstone course.  This course is needed to complete the culminating project requirement for programs that end with a designated capstone course.

Plan B: Comprehensive Exam

  • Program is 32 credits minimum.
  • Course number: No set course number, may be 0-3 credits.
  • Completion requirements: Recommended that 2-3 faculty members review and score comprehensive examinations; Notification of outcome must be sent in writing to the School of Graduate Studies for each student with student ID included; Student has 2 opportunities to pass a comprehensive examination, a third is not permitted.

Written examination designed to demonstrate understanding and integration of learning in the program. May also be preparatory for state and national licensing examinations.

Plan C:  Project/Portfolio or Internship/Portfolio

  • Program is 36 credits minimum.
  • Course number: No set course number for Portfolio, Internship uses 644, may be 1-12 credits.
  • Completion requirements: Requires a committee of 3, a preliminary and final conference.

At a school, educational institute or university, a project is a research assignment given to a student that generally requires a larger amount of effort and more independent work than is involved in a normal essay assignment. It requires students to undertake their own fact-finding and analysis, either from library/internet research or from gathering data empirically. The written report that comes from the project is usually in the form of a report, which will contain sections on the project's inception, analysis, findings and conclusions. It could be an exhibition portfolio, or other project; written or electronically recorded documentation.

A portfolio is generally combined with a practicum/internship. Many times the portfolio is the final report upon the completion of a practicum/internship.  Each department may have its own requirements for the portfolio.

Additional information and Resources

Culminating Projects Doctoral Level


  • Course number: 899, must register for a total of 9-12 dissertation credits as listed in curriculum.
  • Completion requirements: Requires a committee of four, a preliminary and final conference, must use S/U grading, letter grades are not permitted

The dissertation is the final culminating project for doctoral students.

  • It will reflect the knowledge gained through the program and focus on a topic of interest to the student that contributes to the body of knowledge in the field of study.
  • The student must:
    • Design the study.
    • Obtain or develop data collection tools.
    • Conduct the study.
    • Analyze the results.
    • Provides a discussion placing the study in context.

Doctoral degrees

Additional information and Resources

Curriculum Support

The School of Graduate Studies will provide support to faculty members/departments seeking to update or develop new graduate curriculum. Please contact the Director of Graduate Student Services to set up an appointment.

Graduate Plan Credit and Curriculum Requirements

Graduate curriculum must meet the minimum requirements for total credits, research credits and culminating experience as set by the School of Graduate Studies.

Plan A: Minimum of 30 graduate credits. The program must include a minimum of 3-9 credits of research, including thesis, field study or creative work credits. 

Plan B: Minimum of 32 graduate credits.  The program must include a minimum of 3 credits of research.

Plan C: Minimum of 36 graduate credits. The program must include a minimum of 3 credits of research. Project/portfolio or Internship/Portfolio credits may count toward the research requirement.

Please see the Culminating Projects menu for minimum requirements for culminating experiences for each Master's level Plan A, B, or C and for Doctoral completion requirements.

Five-Year Bachelors to Masters Track (Accelerated Degree)

Please use the following language to guide development and submission of accelerated degree programs for curriculum review.

The Five-Year Track is an accelerated, rigorous program option available to St. Cloud State undergraduates who maintain a 3.0 GPA and who show the ability and discipline necessary to successfully complete an accelerated combination undergraduate and graduate program.

  • Students interested in the five-year track are encouraged to make an appointment with the graduate director of the program during their sophomore year. This will allow for correct selection of undergraduate course work. 
  • Students should apply for early provisional admission through the School of Graduate Studies' online application upon successful completion of 90 undergraduate credits. Please note that programs may have additional early admission requirements such as successful completion of core courses, successful completion of prerequisites or a minimum undergraduate GPA.
  • Provisionally admitted students will be coded as 5 year students and a degree audit (DARS) created to reflect the requirements of the accelerated track.
  • Students will complete the bachelor’s degree with 9-13 fewer required semester credits than if they chose to complete the bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the traditional tracks.
  • Students remain in undergraduate student status through the fourth year of the program which may affect financial aid eligibility. In addition, students will need to request permission and overrides to enroll in graduate level courses through submission of the Undergraduate Permission to Enroll form
  • Credits completed at the graduate level are used to fulfill requirements at the undergraduate level. Programs should identify which undergraduate requirements are met by completion of the 500/600 level graduate courses.
  • All credits required for the graduate degree will be completed at the graduate level.
  • Students may opt out early with a bachelor’s degree provided certain course requirements are satisfied. Graduate level courses used to complete the undergraduate degree may not be applicable to a graduate degree program in the future.
  • Students may enroll in culminating project credits, such as thesis, starred paper, or internship courses between their fourth and fifth years. Students will be encouraged to begin work on their culminating project during the summer between their fourth and fifth years.
  • Five-year students are eligible for graduate assistantship funding after completion of the Bachelor’s degree.
  • Students must maintain at a minimum a 3.0 GPA in all 500- and 600-level courses to be eligible for full admission to the master’s degree.

Writing Support

Faculty Guide: Working with Graduate Student Writers (Purdue OWL resource)

D2L Culminating Project and ETD Support -- semesterless course available for self-registration


Coursera -- English for Science, Technology and Math

APA -- APA has released the 7th edition of the publication manual. We will continue to accept papers formatted using the 6th edition through the end of Summer 2020. Students using APA 7th edition in Spring or Summer 2020 should notify the format reviewer at Students using APA should plan to use APA 7th edition beginning Fall 2020. 

Graduate Committee

The committee includes one member elected from each major unit.

It makes recommendations to the Faculty Senate and submits curriculum to the University Curriculum Committee related to these duties:

  • Establish graduate policies, procedures, and regulations in relationship to the general purposes and goals of the graduate faculty and the university.
  • Advise the School of Graduate Studies on graduate curriculum and related matters.
  • Evaluate administrative proposals that have graduate curriculum implications (including the initiation, expansion, discontinuation or reduction of programs or academic units).
  • Review the graduate academic and curricular programs, policies, and practices for improvements and change.
  • Develop criteria and policy for membership and act on recommended appointments to the graduate faculty.

Graduate Faculty Policy and Process

This policy was approved by President's Council for implementation beginning Spring 2017. The online process through AEFIS is in development. 

To ensure continuing review of graduate faculty status, faculty members engaged in teaching, advising, graduate program leadership, or culminating project committees, should complete sections 1 and 2 of the Graduate Faculty Status form and submit to their department chair with a copy of their resume or CV or PDR, section 2. 

Please contact the Director of Graduate Student Services at 

EAB Navigate

Graduate students are included in EAB Navigate to allow for enhanced communication and advising. Advisors should see listed advisees and current instructors will see students in their courses. Information on EAB Navigate (formerly SSC) is available through University College.