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 continuous enrollment 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.

Teaching Licenses

Some education-related majors require a Collegiate Professional License. The requirements for licensure must be met before the degree is conferred. Consult the Office of Teacher Education Services for information.

Course Completion Deadlines

All course work must be completed by the final examination date listed in the Graduate Calendar of your final semester. If you fail to meet this deadline, your name will be removed from the current graduation list.  You will need to reapply to graduate the following semester in which you complete the required course work.


Application for Graduation

You must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 to graduate. If you expect to graduate at the end of a term, please click here for instructions and here for the application. You must submit your Application for a Graduate Degree form by the deadline. No credit for University work may be given for a diploma, teacher's license, or transfer until all debts to JMU have been paid (excluding student loans).


Students are expected to attend graduation exercises. If you are unable to attend, you must notify The Graduate School at least 21 days before commencement.

Link here for more details about commencement and what you need to do to ensure that you will graduate and be able to participate in commencement ceremonies. 


Diplomas are issued three times a year, at the end of each semester (spring, summer and fall). You must submit a graduation application and complete all program requirements to receive your diploma.

The Registrar’s Office mails the diploma to your permanent address (as shown in your My Madison account) approximately 8-10 weeks after the end of the semester. Your diploma shows the degree awarded. Your transcript lists your academic program, concentration and degree.

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