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.

Graduate Student Achievement Award

The School of Graduate Studies and Graduate Student Organization recognizes that:

  • Every graduate student faces unique hurdles during their time in the graduate program.
  • Commitment to education is demonstrated in many ways.
  • Each program is designed differently.

This award identifies and honors graduate students who have demonstrated that extraordinary commitment to higher education through one or more of five categories.

  • Exceptional academic achievement.
  • Completion of research or other creative activity that is recognized by an external organization. This research or creative activity must already have been presented.
  • Demonstration of extraordinary commitment to higher education.
  • Service to the community.
  • Unique contribution to St. Cloud State University.

Award winners are selected by program faculty who work with the students every day.

Commencement and Graduation


Complete the application for graduation online.

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.

Failure to meet the deadline will delay review and processing.

If you do not graduate during the application term, you 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. UPDATED PDF nnnnNEEDED

Graduation Dates and Deadlines

Intended Graduation Application Deadline Graduation Date
Fall I Sept. 15, 2017 Oct. 27, 2017
Fall II Sept. 29, 2017 Dec. 15, 2017
Spring I Jan. 19, 2018 March 23, 2018
Spring II Feb. 9, 2018 May 4, 2018
Summer I May 25, 2018 June 21, 2018
Summer II July 6, 2018 Aug. 2, 2018


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 1-3 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 12 doctoral credits.
  • 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

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 TK20 is in the pilot stage.

An instructional video is available to assist with completing the submission and review process.