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All FER graduates students must satisfy specific requirements pertaining to transcripts from previous institutions, developing a plan of work, teaching responsibilities, course timing and more. These requirements are in addition to the requirements of the NC State Graduate School.  For a detailed description of requirements of the Graduate School for all advanced degree programs at NC State, please review the on-line NC State Graduate Administrative Handbook. Chapter 3 is particularly important. Many questions related to Graduate School policies and rules are addressed on the Graduate School Frequently Asked Questions website.

All Graduate School forms can be found in downloadable format online.  Click here for other resources.

See below for the following:

  • Credit Requirements for Graduation
  • Transferring Credit
  • Continuous Registration/Leave of Absence
  • Masters Graduation Requirements
  • Masters Advisiory Committee Requirements
  • PhD Graduation Requirements
  • PhD Advisory Commitee Requirements
  • Hints on Completing the Plan of Work
  • Final Exam/Defense Procedures

Credit Requirements for Graduation

Degree Minimum credits* Minor required Final product Specific courses required**
Master of Forestry 39 no project paper 39 cr
MS in Forestry 30-36 yes thesis 2 cr
PhD in Forestry & Environmental Resources 72 beyond bachelors yes dissertation 2 cr
Master of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology 36 no project paper 1 cr
MS in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology 30 yes thesis 1 cr
PhD in Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology 72 beyond bachelors no dissertation 4 cr
Master of Natural Resources 30-36 no project paper 11 cr
MS in Natural Resources 30-36 no thesis 11 cr
Master of Environmental Assessment 30 no project paper 24 cr

* The advisory committee can require additional credits beyond the minimum.
** See the specific degree program for details.

Transfer Credit

Masters students can transfer in up to 12 graduate level credits.  Courses considered for transfer must be completed in post-baccalaureate classification at an accredited graduate school with a grade of “B” or better as documented by an official transcript and approved by the student’s graduate committee.

Doctoral students can bring in up to 18 credits from a masters degree in a related field from another university or from NCSU with a break between programs and up to 36 credits from a masters degree in a related field from NCSU with no break in programs.

This credit is transferred in when the Plan of Work is submitted.  For more details, please see this website.

Continuous Registration/Leave of Absence

Students are required to maintain continuous fall/spring registration once they begin the degree program.  Leaves of absence are an exception to continuous registration and a total of 2 semesters leave of absence are allowed for a degree program. Leaves must be requested at least one month before the leave is to begin, initiated by student, endorsed by graduate advisory committee, endorsed by DGP, and approved by Graduate School. Leave time counts in total program time limit.

Masters Graduation Requirements

  • Fulfill all course and credit requirements (see the specific major), see the Graduate Handbook for details on course level requirements.
  • Fulfill all minor requirements, if applicable.
  • Submit all outstanding documents, as listed in the initial admission letter, including transcripts showing post-secondary coursework attempted and degree(s) conferred to the Graduate School.
  • Complete the Patent Agreement (found on the Plan of Work).
  • Submit a Plan of Work through MyPack/Student Self Service. A Plan of Work (PoW) is an informal contract between the student and his or her graduate advisory committee and it includes the naming of the advisory committee. The PoW must be completed before half of all required courses have been taken. Once a PoW is approved, it serves as a record of what is required of the student for the duration of his or her program.
  • Be continuously enrolled until they graduate (taking care to register for appropriate courses when it comes to upper 600- level classes).
  • Meet all Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources requirements.
  • Present a departmental seminar that summarizes their project (non-thesis candidates) or summarizes their thesis research. Seminars are normally presented as the first portion of the final oral exam.
  • If earning a MS, submit an approved thesis/dissertation (per the Thesis and Dissertation Guide) to the thesis editor of the Graduate School.
  • Complete all degree requirements within the limits set by the Graduate School, beginning with the date they begin courses carrying graduate credit applicable to the degree program.
  • Attain a GPA of at least 3.00 for graduate course work at NC State.

PhD Graduation Requirements

  • Fulfill all course and credit requirements (see the specific major), see the Graduate Handbook for details on course level requirements.
  • Fulfill all minor requirements (a minor is required for PhD in Forestry & Environmental Resources and is otherwise optional)
  • Submit all outstanding documents, as listed in the initial admission letter, including transcripts showing post-secondary coursework attempted and degree(s) conferred to the Graduate School.
  • Complete the Patent Agreement (found on the Plan of Work).
  • Identify an advisory committee to be appointed by the Graduate Dean upon the recommendation of the DGP. Approvals are done through the Plan of Work.
  • Select a dissertation subject and submit an outline of proposed research to the advisory committee for review and approval.
  • Submit a Plan of Work through MyPack/Student Self Service. A Plan of Work (PoW) is an informal contract between the student and his or her graduate advisory committee and it includes the naming of this advisory committee. Once a PoW is approved, it serves as a record of what is required of the student for the duration of his or her program. This must be done as soon as is feasible after completion of 18 hours of course work.
  • Serve as a Teaching Assistant for at least one course.
  • Pass written and oral prelim examinations in all major and minor fields (if required) no earlier than the end of the second year of graduate study and no later than one semester before the final oral examination. The oral prelim requires and approved Plan of Work and prior approval by the Graduate School. Results are reported to the Graduate School. The prelim must be passed without conditions within six years of the start of the program.
  • Submit a preliminary draft of their dissertation to the chair of the advisory committee for review.
  • Give a dissertation to advisory committee members for review at least two weeks prior to the final oral examination.
  • Submit a Request for Approval to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination to the DGP at least two weeks prior to its suggested date. This request should be submitted four or more months after admission to candidacy, and after the dissertation is complete (except for revisions triggered as a result of the final exam). Approval of this request must be granted by the Graduate School.
  • Be continuously enrolled until they graduate (taking care to register for appropriate courses when it comes to upper 800- level classes).
  • Meet all Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources requirements.
  • Present a departmental seminar that summarizes their dissertation research. Seminars are normally presented as the first portion of the final oral exam.
  • Submit the dissertation (per the Thesis and Dissertation Guide) in the format and time frame required by the Graduate School.
  • Achieve a GPA of at least 3.0 to qualify for graduation.
  • Complete all degree requirements within ten calendar years, beginning with the date the student commenced courses carrying graduate credit applicable to the degree program.

Masters Advisory Committee Requirements

As a Masters candidate, your advisory committee consists of at least 3 people who are members of the Graduate Faculty. The chair must have an appointment in FER (or be a member of the Fisheries and Wildlife faculty if you are a candidate in that area). Regardless of your degree program, your other two advisory committee members may come from other departments at NC State.

You may also choose to ask a member of the Graduate Faculty at UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro or Duke University to serve on your advisory committee as one of your three committee members. If you have a minor, your advisory committee must include a faculty member with an appointment in that curriculum. In the case of an interdisciplinary minor, the minor representative must have an appointment in a department in which at least one of the courses counted toward the minor is taught.

Persons outside of these universities can also be appointed as external members to your advisory committee, but they will not count toward your three required members. Typically these external members hold credentials similar to other members and participate in all aspects of the committee, including voting. A technical consultant or advisor may also be named in addition to your required committee members. He or she may not vote on the outcome of examinations, but can participate in examinations and may sign your thesis title page.

Doctoral Advisory Committee Requirements

Your PhD advisory committee must include four faculty members with appointments to the NC State Graduate Faculty. The chair must have an appointment in your major field and must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty. If co-chairs are designated, at least one of them must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty. One member of the committee must have an appointment in the curriculum that is your declared minor. If the minor is interdisciplinary, this committee member must have an appointment in the department in which at least one of the courses counted toward the minor is taught. You may also choose to ask a member of the Graduate Faculty at UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro or Duke University to serve on your advisory committee as one of your four committee members. Persons outside of these universities can also be appointed as additional members to your advisory committee, but they will not count toward your four required members. Typically these external members hold credentials similar to other members and participate in all aspects of the committee, including voting.

Hints on Completing the Plan of Work

The Plan of Work (POW) must be completed by all students – masters students should complete it after their first year and doctoral students should complete it after 18 credit hours. The POW is described in detail in the Grad Student Handbook. It is now submitted online and is relatively straightforward. Some hints follow:

  • Do not start to work on your POW until you are officially in the program you want. For example, if you were admitted as a MS student in Natural Resources – Hydrology and want to earn a Master of Natural Resources – Policy & Administration, then this change needs to be fully approved by the Graduate School before you start working on the POW.
  • Coursework should first be added from your transcript. After you have added all of these classes, then you can add your future courses.
  • Courses taken while in Post-Baccalaureate status (PBS) at NCSU will need to be added from “my graduate non-degree transcript”.
  • Doctoral students who are bringing in credits from their master’s programs should add these credits through the transfer credit process. Add a new row to the POW. Choose credits from transfer, then click on the only choice. Then add as the name of the course “transfer credits from masters”. Set the credits to 18. You do not need to list specific courses. These credits are in the category of “other”.
  • If you will have a thesis, please add the thesis title (as best you can) as a comment.
  • If coursework changes after the POW has been approved, this will be fixed when you want to schedule your exams.
  • If you change committee members, this requires a special form, with signatures by new and departing committee members.
  • Print your POW for your records. If something happens and the online version is erased, you will need to recreate it.

Final Exam/Defense Procedures (on-campus programs)

  • Final steps in completing your degree program (on-campus programs only, others should see the specific program website):
  • Make sure your Plan of Work is correct, with the proper degree and program, current committee and all coursework.
  • Schedule a date and time with your committee.
  • Find a location for the exam.
  • At least two weeks before the exam, tell the Graduate Program Coordinator the following so paperwork can be approved by the Graduate School:
      • date and time of exam
      • location of exam
      • draft exam title
      • if all committee members will be present for the exam.  If not, see below.
  • Apply to graduate in MyPack.
  • For information on graduation deadlines, click here.

Procedures when a committee member cannot be present:

  • If a committee member cannot be present, you have three choices: (1) reschedule for a time when everyone can be present – this is the preferred option; (2) have the absent committee member participate via video-conference; or (3) find a substitute committee member – this is the least preferred option.
  • If the absent committee member will participate via video-conference, you will need to fill out additional paperwork (see the Grad School form “Conduct Remote Oral Exam”). The Grad School now requires their participation via video-conferencing, not just via telephone. The Grad School also requires the presence of a Grad School Rep (they will find this person) so additional notice is required. If the technology fails, your exam will need to be cancelled and rescheduled.
  • All available rooms for exams in Biltmore or Jordan Hall are equipped to handle remote participation. You will need to contact the IT folks at cnr_help@ncsu.edu for assistance in setting up the video-conference. They prefer 3-4 weeks notice, with one week notice minimum. You are strongly encouraged to try the set-up before the day of your exam so you can troubleshoot any problems. Below are three options:
      • The Polycom Videostation – allows for one-to-one live video and voice through a flat screen television, video camera and wired Internet connection. There *must* be someone on the other side who also has this or a similar system.
      • Elluminate – Elluminate is the online conferencing solution that NCSU has a site license to. Elluminate can handle up to 6 live video feeds at once. It also has other features such as application/desktop sharing, polling, whiteboard, text chat, and others. There is no required software to download.
      • Skype – Biggest benefit to Skype is that the voice quality is superior to Elluminate. But in general, Skype is a “free” online voice/video chat application.
  • You will need to work out in advance how the absent person will sign the exam sheet.