Once admitted, it is anticipated that you will enroll in classes each semester until a degree is awarded. All requirements must be completed within 6 years. Even if you were deactivated due to a two-year lapse in course work and later reactivated, the 6-year time limit is counted from the date your course work began. Academic work, including transfer credit, taken more than six years before the date at which the master's or doctoral degree is awarded may not be used to satisfy the degree requirements. You may submit a petition to extend the deadline if you have extenuating circumstances.

Finishing Your Degree

Comprehensive Assessments

A formal assessment of mastery (a comprehensive written and/or oral exam) designed to appraise the student's competence is required of each JMU student in order to complete his or her program of graduate study. The format and timing of this assessment is at the discretion of the graduate program, provided it fairly and adequately documents the knowledge and skills the student has acquired.

The nature of the comprehensive assessment should accurately reflect the content of the student's academic program. The assessment should require the integration and synthesis of what has been learned by the student. The student must demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in the discipline and depth in specific content areas to be determined by the graduate program faculty.

Comprehensive Assessment Committees

Each graduate program must have a comprehensive assessment committee for the program and/or for the individual student. Individual student committees are selected by the student in consultation with the graduate program coordinator and/or program adviser. Each comprehensive assessment committee must consist of at least three JMU graduate faculty members with the background and interest necessary to evaluate the mastery of the student. At least two members must be from the student's graduate program.

Non-graduate faculty members of the comprehensive assessment committee, which may include persons external to the university, must be approved by the dean of TGS. Such members shall make up no more than one-third of the total committee membership. Graduate instructors may also be appointed to committees with the approval of the dean of TGS, but only when their expertise clearly qualifies them; their appointment must be in addition to the required number of graduate faculty members.

Graduate students may not serve on the comprehensive assessment committees. Only a graduate faculty member from the student's graduate program may chair a comprehensive assessment committee.

Comprehensive Assessment Failure 

In the event a student fails the comprehensive assessment, the student may request a re-examination. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the re-examination must occur within six months of the date of failure. Only one re-examination will be allowed. Cases involving extenuating circumstances must be raised or supported by the graduate program faculty and presented in writing to the dean of the relevant college for approval. If a student fails the second comprehensive assessment, his or her graduate program will be terminated. 

Comprehensive Assessment Continuance 

Students completing all degree requirements except the comprehensive assessment are required to enroll each semester until they have passed the comprehensive assessment. Students must register for comprehensive continuance credit hours during those semesters in which they are engaged in preparation for the comprehensive assessment.

NOTE: The Leave from Study course GRAD 597 cannot be used as a comprehensive continuance course. Credit hours for comprehensive continuance do not count toward graduate program requirements.

Thesis, Dissertation, or Research Project

View our Scholarly Document Manual

Please see the Graduate Catalog section entitled “Research and Thesis or Dissertation" for the regulations regarding thesis and dissertation advisory committees, and specifications for the final printed report.

You will be charged at the graduate tuition rate for thesis, dissertation, research project, and directed research work (course #700, #800, or #900). If you fail to complete your work after registering for the maximum hours, you must register for course continuance each semester (including Summer) until you receive your degree. Consult your department for the Summer course continuance schedule. Continuance credits do not count toward graduate program requirements.


Applying for Graduation

Graduation applications for students who will complete all degree requirements in December will be due in mid-April. Graduation applications for students who will complete all degree requirements in May or August will be due in mid-October. Our dates and deadlines page lists specific graduation deadlines for upcoming terms. This step-by-step guide explains how to submit an application and how to access your graduation status after applying. We also have the following tutorials to help you with the application process:

Changing Your Expected Graduation Term or Withdrawing Your Graduation Application

Changing Your Name or Diploma Mailing Address Information

If you have additional questions, please contact gradstudentservices@jmu.edu

Course Completion Deadlines

Degrees are awarded based on the conferral dates for the semester in which a student completes all of their graduation requirements. In order to graduate in any given semester, the student must complete all graduation requirements by the course completion deadline of that semester. Students failing to meet the deadline will not be eligible to have their degree conferred that semester and will need to change their expected graduation term. Expected graduation terms can be changed on MyMadison by going to the "Graduation" link in the Student Center. You can then click "View Graduation Status" and change term there. Consult the calendar online at the Registrar's Office for specific dates.


Students must have an approved graduation application on file in order to participate in a commencement ceremony.  General information about upcoming ceremonies can be found on the main JMU Commencement webpage.  Students who answered that they will participate in a commencement ceremony will receive more specifics in emails to their dukes email account in the two months leading up to their selected ceremony. 


Official diplomas are not be presented at commencement, as final grades have not posted at that time.  Diplomas are mailed to students’ permanent home addresses by the Office of the Registrar approximately eight weeks after degree conferral.  The shipping times are typically several weeks longer for students with international home addresses.  All graduation requirements must be met in order for a student’s degree to be conferred and for a diploma to be ordered.  Students should keep their home address in MyMadison up to date and should check to see if they have any holds on their account in MyMadison, as holds can prevent a diploma or transcript from being issued.

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