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New Mexico State University
Graduate Catalog


New Mexico State University offers both academic and professional master's degrees.

If the student's undergraduate program fails to provide a proper foundation for advanced work in the chosen field or department, the student may be required to take classes to correct those deficiencies, consequently resulting in a longer period of residence than would otherwise be required.


A minimum of 30 semester credits is required for the master's degree. Most master's degrees require at least 15 credits in courses numbered 500 or above, including thesis credit for master's programs involving a thesis. Master's programs involving a thesis include no more than six and no fewer than four credits of thesis. (See the section on "Thesis" for further guidelines.)

At least 15 credits for the master's degree must be for work in courses in the department in which the student was admitted. Additional credits may be selected from other fields to fit into a logical, justifiable program. Courses used to remove deficiencies or satisfy prerequisites cannot be counted as part of the requirements for the master's degree.

Students must take coursework from a variety of faculty. Students may not take more than half of the minimum credits required for a master's degree (excluding thesis credits) with the same professor. Short courses of less than one summer session or one semester duration cannot constitute more than one-fourth of the total course requirements for a master's degree.


It is recommended that, during the first semester of enrollment, each graduate student beginning studies toward a degree prepare a complete tentative program of study in consultation with the student's advisor. This tentative program should be kept in the student's file within the department and is not to be considered as the “Application for Admission to Candidacy,” which contains the permanent program.


The admission of a student to the Graduate School does not imply admission to candidacy for an advanced degree. The major department in which the student intends to become a candidate for a master's degree must be satisfied as to the student's sound basic training and the ability to pursue studies at the graduate level. Departments may require a comprehensive qualifying examination before officially approving any candidate for the master's degree.

An “Application for Admission to Candidacy,” which formally lists curriculum requirements for the student's program of studies, must be filed with University Admissions no later than after the completion of 12 credits of graduate work.

At the time the “Application for Admission to Candidacy” is submitted, the student must have a cumulative graduate grade-point average of 3.0. The application may specify the Graduate Catalog in effect at the time of matriculation, provided that the catalog is not more than seven years old. Otherwise, the current Graduate Catalog will be used. The student's program listed in the “Application for Admission to Candidacy” must (1) meet the requirements of the chosen catalog, including the regulations of the Graduate School and of the major department, (2) include undergraduate deficiencies and required courses specified on the student's “Certificate of Admission,” (3) be certified by the student, the student's advisor, heads of departments offering major and minor fields, and the cognizant deans, and (4) list each course number and abbreviated title with the hours and grades. If the program is not satisfactory in the judgment of the graduate dean, it may be returned to the department for revision. When the “Application for Admission to Candidacy” has been approved by the graduate dean, the student will be formally admitted to candidacy for the master's degree.


A thesis in the major field is recommended and may be required, at the discretion of the department concerned.

Not more than six nor fewer than four thesis credits may be counted toward the requirements for a master's degree.

Many departments have a non-thesis option. Please check with the department on the non-thesis option.


Having once registered for thesis, a student must continue to register for a minimum of one credit in thesis or graduate course work each regular semester until the thesis is approved by the Graduate School and the copies have been accepted by the binding section in Branson Library. A student who fails to abide by this regulation will be considered withdrawn from the university and, in order to resume studies, must formally apply for readmission and satisfy the requirements in effect at the time of reapplication.


The master's degree committee will consist of a minimum of three faculty members holding at least master's degrees. The committee chair and one other member must be in the student's department; however, the home department of one of these two committee members may be outside the student's department (see Graduate Faculty Guidelines section "Appointments Outside of Home Department"). The third person on the committee must serve as the dean's representative and cannot be a faculty member of the students' home department.

The committee chair and the dean's representative must be members of the graduate faculty (please refer to "Guidelines for Graduate Faculty Appointments"). If the student has an approved minor area of study then either the dean's representative or a fourth committee member must come from the minor department.

If no minor is declared, the dean's representative may come from a related area (recommended by the committee chair) or be appointed independently by the dean of the Graduate School.

All students completing a written exam are required to have a dean's representative that reviews the process of administering the exam. The dean's representative can sign off on all of the exams of students taking a written exam for the given semester. The dean's representative must be from outside the students' home department.

The faculty committee of the student is responsible for identifying a dean's representative and completing the examination forms. A list of graduate faculty is available at the web site of the Graduate School. Faculty can use the list to identify graduate faculty to serve as the dean's representative.

Departments can nominate individuals with a master's degree and/or doctoral degree and related experience for a temporary appointment to graduate faculty (please see Appointment to Graduate Faculty of Non-NMSU Employees in the Guidelines on Graduate Faculty Appointments in this Graduate Catalog). Nomination letters must identify specific roles of the individual and the year(s) of service (up to three years per request per individual). The nomination letter must receive the endorsement of the academic dean. If granted a temporary appointment to graduate faculty, the individual will be limited to the specific role(s) identified by the department. Departments can request that the individual be allowed to serve as a dean's representative.

As indicated in the "Guidelines for Graduate Faculty Appointments," any qualified member of the graduate faculty may join any graduate program within a department. Applicants will be approved by the graduate program to which they are applying, through a process to be determined by that program, before their application is forwarded to the dean of the Graduate School. Departments may structure committees that include more than the minimum number of members as long as the stated conditions of membership are satisfied. Additional voting and nonvoting members may be any person approved or appointed by the dean of the Graduate School.


Each candidate will be given a final examination conducted by the graduate committee in accordance to the schedule provided by University Admissions. It is the student's responsibility to be sure that the form to schedule this examination is submitted to the Graduate School at least ten working days prior to the proposed date for the examination.

At the time of the final examination, a graduate student must have an NMSU cumulative graduate grade-point average of at least 3.0 and must be enrolled in the final semester; or, if the student is writing a thesis, he or she must have completed all course work for the master's degree.

Students with the nonthesis option may be required to pay a special exam fee in lieu of registering for one credit hour of graduate course work. (See “Tuition, Fees, and Other Expenses.”)

The final examination format shall be determined by the department, with the approval of the graduate dean. If a department does not specify an examination format, the final examination shall consist of an oral defense of the student's thesis (if one was written) as well as a general examination of the candidate's field of study.

Any candidate who fails in the final examination may (1) upon recommendation of the advisor and approval of the graduate dean, be granted a second examination after a lapse of at least one semester, or (2) be excluded from further candidacy for the degree. Failure in the second examination disqualifies a candidate from obtaining the degree. Certification that the thesis has been accepted and that the final examination has been passed must be filed with University Admissions not later than one week before the degree is conferred.


The graduate program leading to the master's degree must be completed within seven years (or eight successive summers) including completion of the master's thesis or final project. Any course work more than seven years old at time of the final examination will not be included in the program.


A candidate for a master's degree may select up to two approved minors in addition to the major. A minimum of nine credits of graduate work is necessary for a minor at the master's level. (See “Graduate Degree Programs, Specializations/ Concentrations, and Approved Minors” for a list of approved minors.) To record a minor on a student's permanent record, the minor must be listed on the “Application for Admission to Candidacy,” and this form must be signed by the head of the department offering the minor program. At the oral examination, a committee member may move to remove the designation of a minor with the concurrence of the committee.

A minor will not be awarded after the degree has been posted to the transcript.


Interdisciplinary studies at New Mexico State University are intended for individuals specializing in programs that require the integration of more than one discipline to fully engage in the field of study. Interdisciplinary studies provide a mechanism to address emerging scholarship, innovation, and research and allows graduate students to engage in emerging technologies, optimizing their education outside the traditional disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinary study takes advantage of traditional academic training within specific departments yet allows students to customize their own career preparation.

In these programs, a coherent common core is expected and is intended to combine existing courses across disciplines to meet unique objectives. The Master of Science or Master of Arts degrees are awarded for interdisciplinary programs and are carried out under the direction of the student's graduate committee. The interdisciplinary studies option should not be used in cases where the applicants' objectives can be realized by admission to a specific department and inclusion of up to two minor areas in the program of study.


Students follow the regular admission procedures set forth by the Graduate School. In completing the application, the applicant indicates IMAS in the section requesting Department or Program and designates the area of interdisciplinary study in the section requesting “Field or area of advanced study." A proposal for interdisciplinary studies (see 1 below) must be submitted with the application. A departmental referral form will be generated and sent to the primary department specified in the proposal (see 3 below). Once the student's graduate committee is designated, the committee can require additional materials such as a statement of interest, letters of recommendation, GRE or GMAT scores, and a personal interview.

Thesis/Non-thesis option

As with any graduate student, the student in interdisciplinary studies can select to follow a thesis or non-thesis option. Students enrolled in the thesis option register for six thesis credits. Students not wishing to follow the thesis option will be required to complete a project report. The project must reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the program in which the student is engaged.

Comprehensive exam

Students in interdisciplinary studies take a comprehensive exam composed of questions designed by the student's committee. Two individuals in the areas of study plus the dean's representative outside of the department/program/interdisciplinary study option will be involved. A chair is also identified.

Degree awarded

Students receive a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) and a concentration in the interdisciplinary study area.

Other conditions that apply

  1. The student must present a written description of the program concept consisting of (a) objective of the program of study including proposed areas of skill development, proposed courses in more than one graduate degree granting department of NMSU, and (b) a justification for not using an existing departmental degree program. In addition the student needs to designate the degree being sought (Master of Science or Master of Arts) and a name for the interdisciplinary area.
  2. The student's program of study must include a minimum of 30 graduate level credits and a maximum of 36 credits. The student may take six credits in departments that do not grant a graduate degree but the courses must be numbered 450 and above, and be pertinent to the program of study.
  3. The majority of the departments involved in the student's program will be master's degree and doctoral degree granting departments. The student is expected to take at least 15 credits in the primary area of study within one department. The department selected by the student will receive a copy of the student's application for admissions from University Admissions. In addition, the student is required to select an approved minor area of study in another department that consists of at least 9 credit hours (see the Approved Graduate Minors and Programs section for the approved list of minors).
  4. The student will form a committee composed of members of the graduate faculty and select an advisor who will chair the committee. The chair must be from the primary department where the student has taken at least 15 credit hours listed in the proposal submitted and the other committee member must be from another department in which the student has selected a minor area of study from the approved list of minors listed in the Graduate Catalog. The third faculty member must be the dean's representative.
  5. The student will be required to submit the Candidacy Form to University Admissions after 12 credits are satisfactorily completed.
  6. The program will meet all requirements of a master's degree, as listed in the Graduate Catalog; with the interpretation that “major field” includes courses from two or more departments and in the designated interdisciplinary study area.
  7. The program of study will include completion of a research thesis or project. The work may be submitted in the form of a publishable manuscript, technical report, thesis or creative option.
  8. The student may enroll on a part-time basis keeping in mind that coursework cannot be more than seven years old at the time of the final examination.
  9. The student will be administered a final comprehensive exam that is consistent with the department selected for the primary area of study. For example, if a department requires a written exam, the student in the interdisciplinary masters will also be required to take a written exam.
  10. The final oral comprehensive exam will consist of questions pertinent to the area of study and the defense of the research thesis or project. In both cases an integrated approach to the areas of study chosen should be followed.
  11. All other rules for graduate study at NMSU must be followed.


A student who has earned one master's degree at NMSU may be allowed to count a maximum of six semester credits earned on the first degree toward a second master's degree, if those credits fit into a logical graduate program. The number of shared credits may be increased for dual and joint degree programs.


A dual degree program is a program of study whereby courses of study are combined so that students can complete two degree programs of study in less time than it would take if the programs were independently pursued. Upon graduation, they receive two separate diplomas from each degree program of participating departments and/or institutions. To enroll in a dual, students must complete two separate applications, receive two independent offers of admissions, and meet program and course requirements of both programs of study.

A joint degree program is one where two or more departments interweave their courses and course requirements to create a single degree program. Students are admitted into one program, take courses in each participating department, college or university, but only received one degree and diploma. These degree programs allow departments and/or campuses to take advantage of faculty talents.

Both dual and joint degree programs must have prior approval by the Graduate School. Students must apply and be accepted into graduate programs of each department participating in a specific dual or joint degree program. The list of approved dual and joint degrees can be found in the section “Graduate Degree Programs.”


Students wishing to take graduate courses for licensure or renewal of licensure or for personal enrichment must be fully admitted to a department to do so. Undeclared students may not register for teacher licensure classes. Endorsement is available at both the elementary and secondary levels in bilingual education, TESOL (Teaching of English as a Second Language), reading, and special education. Endorsement is also available in early childhood education at the elementary level. Contact for more information.


The degree of specialist in education is provided for experienced members of the education profession who have completed the master's degree (except the school psychology program, which requires the bachelor's degree) and have maintained a 3.3 grade-point average during pursuit of this degree or its equivalent. Primary emphasis is placed on the development of competencies needed for a professional specialization in a given field. Programs are available in curriculum and instruction and school psychology.

Students must complete the general application for the Graduate School. They should also check with the admitting department for specific departmental requirements.

Residency and Credit Requirements

The specialist in education degree requires a minimum of 30 semester credits beyond the master's degree, including research, intern experiences, and graduate courses. The student meets the campus residency requirement by completing a minimum of 24 credits from faculty of New Mexico State University.

The student must maintain a 3.0 average. No more than six semester credits of C level work are allowed in this program.

Program of Study

It is recommended that, during the first semester of enrollment, each graduate student beginning studies toward a degree prepare a complete tentative program of study in consultation with the student's advisor. This tentative program should be kept in the student's file within the department and is not to be considered as the “Application for Admission to Candidacy,” which contains the permanent program.

Transfer of Credits

A maximum of six graduate credits earned at another approved institution may apply to this degree. Transfer credits must have been earned during the five-year period prior to completion of the specialist in education degree.

Major Field

All course work taken for the degree should apply directly, through a logical program of study, to the specialty which the candidate has selected. Two to six credits will be earned through research that is acceptable to the College of Education and the cooperating educational agency. Each department is responsible for defining the required sequence of courses.


Following the successful completion of 12 semester credits beyond the master's degree, the student is eligible for admission to candidacy. With the achievement of candidacy, a committee is appointed to work with the candidate on the remainder of the program. The committee consists of three members of the graduate faculty in the College of Education.


Each candidate will earn from three to six semester credits in an internship. This experience will consist of supervised performance of duties related to the candidate's specialty. The structure of the internship will be determined by the student's department. A research project will be conducted in conjunction with the internship.

Oral Examination

The oral examination committee will consist of the student's committee plus a dean's representative appointed from the graduate faculty by the dean of the Graduate School. This committee will conduct an oral examination at the conclusion of the research project and no earlier than the candidate's last semester of enrollment.

The examination will consist of a defense of the project along with general questions on subject matter related to the candidate's field of study. Any candidate who fails the oral examination may, upon recommendation of the advisor and approval of the graduate dean, be granted a second examination after a lapse of at least one semester. Failure in the second examination disqualifies the candidate from obtaining the degree.

Time Limit

The specialist in education degree must be completed within seven years following admission to the program.

Students cannot include any course work on their program of study that is more than seven years old at the time of the final oral examination.