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Time Limits on Completion of Requirements

A graduate student in a master's or specialist program must complete all degree requirements within six (6) consecutive years. A graduate student in a doctoral program must complete all requirements within eight (8) consecutive years. Time limits shall be computed from and including the first semester the student is admitted and enrolled in a degree program. 

All Graduate Courses (both TTU and transfer credit) earned toward a graduate program must be taken within the applicable time limit.  Courses that exceed the time limit must be validated for currency.   

Course Validation

Tennessee Tech courses will be reviewed for current content at the home department where the course is offered.  Courses taken outside of TTU will be reviewed for current content at the discretion of the department.  The department will notify the College of Graduate Studies (via the Course Validation form) regarding the results of course content review and validation.  Validated courses will not have to be reviewed again during the remaining time limit associated with the degree program.

Advisory Committee

A graduate student is required to have an advisory committee and is responsible for its formation and maintenance. Several programs have a designated "standing advisory committee." TTU Policy 271 provides details on the composition of the student's advisory committee. All requirements related to advisory committee responsibility as defined in Tennessee Tech Policy 282 (Graduate Faculty Appointment and Responsibilities Policy) must be met, except as provided in this section;

  • Unless a specific graduate program has direct oversight by a standing advisory committee, all graduate degree programs must follow the committee formation requirements.

  • In consultation with their advisor, a graduate student is required to establish their advisory committee and should submit the Advisory Committee Form to the College of Graduate Studies by the completion of 15 semester hours.

  • The graduate student, in consultation with the departmental chairperson or graduate student's academic advisor, will determine the formation of the graduate student's advisory committee as part of the Program of Study.

  • A minimum of three (3) advisory committee members is required for a master's or specialist degree program.

  • A minimum of four (4) advisory committee members is required for a doctoral program in Education.

  • A minimum of five (5) advisory committee member is required for a doctoral program in Engineering and Environmental Sciences.

  • A graduate student's advisory committee members shall represent each of the areas in which the graduate student expects to study, with two (2) members having background in the major area.  The graduate student must have at least one (1) committee member with adequate background and research interests in the area in which the student has proposed a research objective.

  • A faculty member has the prerogative of accepting or relinquishing an appointment on a graduate student's advisory committee.

  • Professionals who are not employed by Tennessee Tech may serve as a consultant on a graduate student's committee if appointed pursuant to Policy 282 (Graduate Faculty Appointment and Responsibilities).

  • Approval requirements are as follows:

    • Three (3) positive votes, or seventy-five percent positive votes, whichever is greater, is required from the advisory committee members of a graduate student pursuing a master's or specialist degree.

    • A minimum of eighty percent positive votes is required from the advisory committee members of a graduate student pursuing a doctoral degree in Engineering or Environmental Sciences.

    • The advisory committee must vote unanimously positive for a graduate student pursuing a doctoral degree in Education.

    • In the event a student does not meet the required number of votes for approval, the student may appeal to the dean of the college in which they are enrolled. The college dean may assign a subcommittee to review the appeal.  However, the decision from the dean of the college is final.

  • The graduate student is responsible for submitting to the College of Graduate Studies any change in advisory committee.

Program of Study

Following admission into a graduate degree program, a graduate student will work with their academic advisor and committee members to determine the specific courses needed to fulfill their degree requirements.

Comprehensive Examination

At or near the completion of the course requirements for the graduate degree, each candidate must pass a comprehensive examination conducted by the candidate's graduate advisory committee. The examination may be oral or written or both. In the examination the student should demonstrate the breadth of knowledge in the discipline, depth in specific areas, and the ability to integrate what has been learned. The following degree programs have a capstone course in which the final course completion is used in place of the comprehensive examination.

  • Curriculum and Instruction, and Instructional Leadership (M.A. and Ed.S.) completion of CUED 6305 or CUED 6315 or CUED 7910

  • Exercise Science and Wellness (M.A.) completion of EXPW 6550

  • Electrical Engineering non-thesis completion of final project course, ECE 6970

  • Masters of Business Administration completion of BMGT 6950

  • Masters of Nursing completion of NURS 6990

  • Masters of Professional Studies completion of PRST 6998

  • Mechanical Engineering non-thesis completion of final project course ME 6900

  • Professional Science Masters completion of ESS 6910

Thesis/Dissertation Defense

Serving as a comprehensive examination for students pursuing a thesis track master's or doctorate, a formal defense of the thesis or dissertation is required. Scheduling of the defense is the candidate's responsibility. The defense will be attended by the candidate's advisory committee and other designees as the individual degree defines.

Application for Graduation

In addition to satisfying all degree requirements, a candidate for a degree must file an Application for Graduation one semester prior to the semester in which the degree is expected to be conferred. The deadline for the filing of the application is posted on the College of Graduate Studies website each semester. 

A graduate student shall be enrolled for a course approved by the graduate advisor during the term in which the degree is awarded unless all requirements have been completed by the last day to register for the term. Any prior courses with a grade of "I" do not count toward enrollment hours.

If a student applies for graduation but fails to satisfy graduation requirements, the student must reapply; this must be done by the date appearing in the online calendar.  

All final degree requirements for graduation must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office no later than one (1) week prior to commencement, with the exception of the defense form and comprehensive exam form which are due three (3) weeks prior to commencement. Transcripts from other universities used as transfer credit on a program of study must be received no later than two (2) weeks after the commencement date.

The advisory committee approved copy of the thesis/dissertation must be submitted through the ETD Administrator (ProQuest) for format review no later than two (2) weeks prior to commencement.  The final copy for publication through ProQuest must be submitted via the ETD Administrator one (1) week prior to commencement.


There will not be a commencement ceremony for those graduating in August. Students who wish to participate will be allowed to return to the University for the December commencement ceremony. Exceptions may be made to this policy for extenuating circumstances.  Students requesting to walk in a commencement other than the semester that the degree is conferred, are required to request prior-approval.  An "Exception to Walk in Commencement" should be filed by the student (the form may be found ONLINE at College of Graduate Studies - Online Forms ( ) at least four weeks before the end of the semester. The completed form is to be electronically signed by the student's advisor, department chair, and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Students may participate in only one (1) commencement ceremony for each degree earned at Tennessee Tech University.