School of Engineering Graduate Program Timelines

Master’s Program, M.S.

These are general timelines for degree completion, based on regular admission (no pre-requisites required), full-time enrollment and satisfactory progress. We expect our students to make every effort to complete their degree within three years (average for most programs, including part-time programs). Enrollment in the summer is not required for master’s students, but may reduce your time to degree. The following timeline summarizes the School of Engineering’s expectations for student progress. Please note the academic year runs from fall (late August) through summer (end of July).


  • Attend New Graduate Student Orientation and any required trainings (New GTA Training)
  • Begin coursework to complete core requirements: 6-9 credit hours of graduate level courses – Note you must complete pre-requisite courses before graduate-level courses to be considered in good academic standing (if required)
  • Consult with faculty - select an advisor and a master’s committee1 and submit your initial Plan of Study for approval online at: School of Engineering Graduation Plan
  • Participate in academic & professional development activities and secure funding for upcoming semesters by midspring
  • Utilize summer research funding or internship opportunities (optional) – Enrollment in 1-3 research hours over summer (if employed as GRA)
  • Research Students: Start reading relevant literature and developing approaches to your thesis research or project.
  • Provide Annual Progress Report to your department or program office (Graduate Activity Report)
  • Complete coursework: 6-12 credit hours of graduate level courses (recommended) – Note some courses are only offered in a given semester or year, so plan accordingly
  • Complete research or project enrollment and plan for final Master’s Exam, Project Presentation or Thesis Defense3 & discuss PhD options with advisor (recommended)
  • Utilize the Engineering Career Center and network with those around you to start making steps towards your career goals – Actively seek out employment opportunities
  • Update Plan of Study and submit for final committee approval - Contact your committee members to discuss your progress and/or problems to see if they have any advice
  • Conference attendance & journal publication (encouraged) - Participate in academic & professional development activities. Publications make you more marketable and offer leverage over other job applicants
  • Complete Graduation Checklist Requirements4 and exit interview

Graduate Milestones

  1. The master’s committee generally consists of at least 3 members. Those members should consist of at least 2 tenured / tenured-track faculty from within the department (including the advisor) and include one additional member who holds any graduate faculty status, including regular, dissertation, or special status. This third member can be, but need not be, a member of the candidate’s department/program. Students may have co-chairs or members from outside KU, but all members must be approved as a regular or special member of the Graduate Faculty (see Master's Oral Exam Committee Composition).
  2. Graduate Students must make satisfactory progress towards their degree to be considered in good standing and eligible for funding as a GTA or GRA. To ensure students are making progress towards their degree, you must submit an annual Graduate Student Activity Report (GAR) to your department prior to the fall semester each academic year. A list of master’s degree requirements can be found at Master's Degree Requirements and within the Academic Catalog.
  3. When the master’s candidate has passed the final oral examination or thesis defense and the members of the committee have signed the thesis title and acceptance pages, the student must deliver all graduation requirements to the School of Engineering Research & Graduate Programs Office (1415 LEEP2) so that completion of degree requirements may be officially certified. Some programs have exceptions to the committee composition and examination requirements (coursework only professional degrees). More information can be found at Master's Final Exams & Master's Thesis Submission and Publication.
  4. The graduation checklist is available online at Graduate Checklists and graduation deadlines are posted on the KU Graduate Studies webpage at Graduate Studies Graduation (see the annual Academic Calendar under Important Information).