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Culminating Activity

The culminating activity provides a means of synthesizing the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the program. This requirement may take a variety of forms, depending on the degree or concentration within the degree: a comprehensive examination (oral or written), fieldwork or internship, practicum, clinical experience, research and thesis, final seminar, master’s paper, or professional portfolio. The culminating activity is arranged in consultation with the adviser at the time of completing the degree candidacy application.

Note:  Master’s degrees in  Education do not permit a student teaching practicum or fieldwork to serve as the culminating activity for that degree.

A grade of “B” or above is required for the culminating activity for any graduate degree.  

Only matriculated students may register for independent research or for thesis. Up to 9 credits of a combination of independent research and thesis may be applied toward a degree.

Students in the master’s programs may elect to write a thesis for 6 credits toward the degree. Students should consult with their advisers to determine whether a thesis is required for their program.

To register for thesis, students must submit an approved copy of the thesis proposal with their registration form.

Students who do not complete the thesis or master’s project at the end of their coursework, or at the end of the semester or session in which they are enrolled in a departmental thesis or culminating project course, are required to enroll in an ongoing non-credit thesis writing course until all work is completed and approved. A fee equivalent to 1 graduate credit for a 3-credit culminating master’s project and 2 graduate credits for a 6-credit culminating thesis will be assessed for each semester or part thereof during which the thesis or capstone project is incomplete. (For these purposes, all the summer sessions together will count as one semester.)

Independent Research

Most departments offer a 3-credit course titled “589/689 Independent Research” that offers matriculated students an opportunity to undertake an individual project supervised by a faculty member. Students must have had formal coursework and/or experience in the area of study, have completed at least two graduate courses in the department at Arcadia University, and have a definite topic or project in mind. Students may ask a faculty member in the department to supervise the study or ask the department chair to suggest an appropriate faculty member. The independent research form must be signed by the chair of the department and contain the name of the supervising faculty member.

No more than two independent studies, each on a different topic, are allowed in a student’s degree program.

To register for independent research, students must present a copy of the approved Independent Research Application to the Registrar’s Office at the time of registration. Students may register for only one independent research or other individual project in any given semester or summer session.

NOTE: Students may not enroll for independent research in order to cover the subject matter of a regular course. Credit for independent research is given only for work completed as described above. In special circumstances, with the written permission of the adviser, the department chair and the instructor, students may register for a graduate course and take it on an independent basis.

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Degree Completion

Conferring of Degrees

Degrees are conferred on August 31st, December 31st and at the formal Commencement exercise in May. All students completing their degrees are invited to participate and will receive information regarding the Commencement ceremony. Information also is available online at in early March. Attendance at Commencement is not mandatory. All program requirements must be met before a graduate degree can be conferred.

 Notification of Expected Completion of Degree Requirements

The student is responsible for notifying the Graduate Studies Office of his or her expected date for completion of degree requirements. The Notification of Degree Completion form is available online at Forms also are available in the Registrar’s Office (Taylor Hall, Room 103).

 Fulfillment of Degree Requirements

Students should work with their faculty adviser and program director to ensure that they are making appropriate progress toward their degree. Procedures have been developed to check progress toward the degree. However, it is the student’s responsibility to know the requirements for his or her degree and to fulfill them.  

In addition to, or independent of, a master’s degree, students may prepare for teacher certification granted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  See Teacher Certification for more information.

Degree Completion for Cohort/Full-Time Graduate Programs

  • Doctor of Education in Special Education—three years plus extension for dissertation
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy—two and one half years
  • Master of Arts in International Peace and Conflict Resolution—two years; three years for part-time track
  • Master of Business Administration—18 months
  • Master of Medical Science (Physician Assistant)—two years; three years for dual degree and three-year track
  • Master of Science in Forensic Science—two years; three years for part-time track

Degree Completion for Graduate Programs with Rolling Admission Six years from the first enrollment in coursework relating to the degree:

  • Certificate of Advanced Study (post masters')
  • Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
  • Master of Arts in Education
  • Master of Arts in English
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Public Health
  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

In all of the above programs, students may enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis; if they do not want to pursue a degree or certification, they may request permission to enroll as Special Status students.

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