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The following information is targeted toward those pursuing MS degrees in Higher Education and Social and Philosophical Studies. For more information about our new MS in Research Methods in Education, click HERE.


Steps To A Successful Master’s Degree

  • Work with your temporary advisor to choose your first courses and register for the EPE 601 “Proseminar”
  • Select a major professor to help you complete your program of study and supervise your scholarly paper
  • Complete your program of study
  • Work with your major professor to outline your scholarly paper and select potential committee members (a total of 3 faculty including your major professor)
  • Write your scholarly paper
  • Complete steps below to prepare for graduation and your final exam
  • “Sit” for your final exam (a discussion with your committee of your scholarly paper)
  • Celebrate!

Major Professor

Unlike students in the doctoral program who answer to a faculty advisory committee, master’s students work primarily with their major professor and do not meet with their advisory committee until the semester of the final exam. In fact, there are no forms to compose a committee until you turn in your request for final exam. Choosing a major professor by the end of your second semester is important. Your major professor should have an interest in the topic on which you wish to focus, but this does not have to be their research area. Your major professor does not have to be your best friend or your favorite professor. It is strongly recommended that you complete at least one course with a faculty member before asking them to serve as your major professor. You may also want to consider if the professor you have in mind is planning on sabbatical or retirement before you finish your program.

Program Of Study

Working at first with your temporary advisor and then with your major professor, you will complete a 31 hour program of study which includes courses in your concentration, at least 3 credit hours of inquiry coursework, and at least 6 hours outside the College of Education. The purpose of this last requirement is to provide your program with breadth and ideas from other disciplines to apply to your studies in education. Note: some EPE courses are cross-listed outside of the College of Education and these are eligible for this requirement.


Many of our master’s students complete an internship as part of their program of study. An internship is NOT required. Arranging an internship is the responsibility of the student. The Director of Graduate Studies will be the faculty member of record, but the work of the internship will be assessed by the person directly supervising the student. To sign up for an internship, design a learning contract with the person in charge of your internship site and submit to the DGS. See the learning contract template, this is an agreement between you and your supervisor of your learning goals and any deliverable products. For example, one of our students produced a handbook for new residence life advisors for working with LGBT students. Another student completed an institutional research experience at KCTCS. An internship should provide opportunities for you to learn new skills, to gain an understanding of an area of practice previously unfamiliar to you, or to design and implement an applied research or evaluation project under the supervision of a knowledgeable practitioner. Internships should not consist of doing everyday work that would typically be done by a paid employee. Grades are submitted by email by the supervisor to the DGS at least two weeks prior to the end of exam week.

Independent Study

Students may arrange to study a topic not offered in regularly scheduled graduate courses with a faculty member. Independent studies are typically very self-directed, often simply the independent reading of a bibliography developed by the supervising instructor. To sign up for an independent study, design a learning contract with the faculty member and submit to the DGS. This is an agreement between you and the faculty member of what is expected of you and a timeline for completion. Grades are submitted by email to the DGS at least two weeks prior to the end of exam week.

Scholarly Paper

Your scholarly paper is intended to be a capstone to your master’s program. For some students this takes the form of a research report. For others it may be a scholarly reflection of experiences during an internship. Your scholarly paper is expected to reflect the lessons learned from your experiences in the program against the backdrop of your coursework. Well in advance of preparing your scholarly paper, you should work with your major professor to clarify expectations. For most students the scholarly paper (using APA style) will include at least a review of the literature in a particular area of interest, a description of a specific area of educational practice framed in its national context, and a discussion of a particular problem or compelling issue. Papers range in length from 15-20 pages without appendices. You might think of this paper as an in-depth policy brief or conference paper written for an educational, governmental, or non-profit audience. Be aware, however, that our department upholds a tradition of intellectual discussion so be sure to reflect upon the more conceptual issues that your project engages as well as practical concerns and blend those reflections into your work.

Check with your major professor regarding your timeline for drafting your paper. You should plan on submitting a draft or extensive outline of your paper to your major professor at least eight weeks prior to the last day to schedule an exam (see academic calendar). A complete draft of your paper must be finished two weeks prior to the last day to schedule an exam for the semester in which you’d like to complete your degree. Your major professor will help you recruit your exam committee and schedule your oral exam, but you must initiate the on-line paperwork (see forms). Keep in mind; this “exam�? is more accurately a considered a discussion of your experience in the program and what you have learned from the experience and coursework. It is not a quiz or didactic test. A well prepared student will have reviewed their scholarly paper and reflected upon material covered in their program of study.

How To Finish

Hurrah! You’ve reached the end of your program. To graduate from EPE you must do the following:

  • Submit an “Application for Degree” to the Graduate School by the deadline stated in the Registrar’s academic calendar
  • Work with your major professor to identify two additional faculty members to serve on your exam committee. These faculty do not have to be members of the Graduate Faculty, but they do need to have faculty status
  • Submit an electronic copy of your final program of study with descriptions of topical seminars and independent study hours to all of your committee members and the DGS. Your final program of study should also include a short (1-2 page) narrative that summarizes your program, including conceptual and topical highlights that have inspired you as a scholar.
  • Submit an electronic copy of a summary of your internship (if you completed one) to all of your committee members and the DGS
  • Submit an electronic copy of an abstract of your scholarly paper to all of your committee members and the DGS
  • Submit a “Request for Final Exam” to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the date and time agreed upon by your committee members. You should check “Non-Thesis” and “Option B.”
  • Submit a final copy (cleanly edited and complete) of your scholarly paper to your committee at least two weeks prior to your exam date
  • Pass your exam
  • Complete the Graduate School’s online master’s exam evaluation.