Program of Study

Process and Procedures

What is a program of study?

The program of study helps you define your path to degree completion. Students create their program of study in collaboration with their graduate committee. All committee members must sign the program of study before it is submitted to the Graduate School. Major Professors and committee members often prefer to discuss a student's program of study at the same meeting that the research review is held. This is not a rule, and the two separate tasks can be completed at separate meetings. The online system you use to submit your program of study is housed online at the Graduate School's website. If you are attempting to complete the form but run into issues on the Committee tab, this may be because you have one or more committee members who do not have the appointment type needed for committee service. If you need help with this, please see the information on forming your graduate committee and contact the FWCS Graduate Program Coordinator for assistance ( 

The program of study defines:

  • The courses you plan on taking as a graduate student
  • Who is on your graduate committee
  • Whether your degree involves a thesis, capstone or internship
  • If you are completing a minor and/or an option

The Graduate School uses your program of study to determine your eligibility for exams and to complete the final audit of your course work prior to awarding your degree. Please review the specific policies listed on the program of study form.

Students who wish to include transfer credit on their program of study must submit a Transfer Credit Request form before the end of their first year of study.

All graduate student programs of study must include a minimum of 50 percent graduate stand-alone courses (max ratio slash (4XX/5XX): overall credits 50%). The remaining credits may be the 500 component of 400/500 slash courses.

If a minor is declared, approximately two-thirds of the coursework (30 graduate credits in a Master's program) should be listed in the major field and one-third (a minimum of 15 graduate credits in a Master's program) in the minor field. In such cases, the student’s graduate committee must include a member from the minor department.

Beginning January 2nd, 2020 the Graduate School will discontinue use of word and PDF program of study forms in favor of a digital program of study. After your program of study has been approved by the Graduate School, grades for listed classes taken henceforth will automatically populate and no further action is required by the student to update grades for courses listed in the program of study. If courses are not completed with a satisfactory grade or not taken, a petition for change in program of study or an updated program of study should be submitted the term before you defend.  Please contact the FW Graduate Program Coordinator with questions about how to use this software.

      Master's Students

  •      Students should assemble their committee, obtain faculty appointments for committee members, and then complete Program of Study by the end of their second (preferred) or third term.
  •      The Graduate School recommends that the program of study be submitted prior to the completion of 18 credits of coursework.
  •      Program of Study and Research Review normally completed in same meeting.

           At least 15 weeks before your thesis defense:

  •       Update your Program of Study (if needed).

PhD Students

  • Students are required to submit a Program of Study to the Graduate School by the end of their fifth term.
  • Program of Study and Research Review may be completed at different times.

At least 15 weeks before your dissertation defense:

  • Update your Program of Study (if needed).

How to create an effective program of study

Your program of study helps you and your major professor develop clear expectations for completion of the degree. When creating the program consider program requirements, whether courses are offered when you need them, and when you intend to complete your thesis requirement. Talk with your major professor about how to create your full Graduate Committee and get input from these professors regarding the courses you take and a reasonable time line for completion of degree requirements. It is also important to read and understand the Graduate School policies related to the program of study.

All MS and PhD students are required to include three credits of graduate seminar (e.g. FW 507 or similar seminars offered by other departments) on their program of study. The Graduate School also requires that students complete training in the conduct of ethical research. The Graduate Orientation class (FW 599) offered in Fall term includes content that fulfills the ethical research training required by the Graduate School. Other options for fulfilling this requirement include GRAD 520: Responsible Conduct of Research, or completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training Module from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). Students choosing the CITI module to complete their ethical research training will not list this course on their graduate program. A copy of the certificate of completion for the CITI module should be provided to the FW Graduate Program Coordinator. 

The OSU Schedule of Classes and the online catalog contains up-to-date course offerings for the current and upcoming terms. For a listing of courses by campus and terms offered through the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, visit our Curricula and Course Offerings page. The Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Student Association (FWGSA) also keeps a Graduate Course Guide and Recommendations list of courses offered through other Departments that are highly recommended for our students. You can check the general catalog and schedule of classes website for subject descriptions before you register for classes.

The program of study for a Master's degree should include 12 credits of FW 503: Thesis; the program for a PhD students should include a minimum of 36 credits of FW 603: Thesis . Students can locate a CRN for the correct thesis credits under their advisor's name in the online catalog each term. If you do not see the correct type of Thesis credits listed for your Major Professor in any given term, email for assistance. 

Graduate Minor

Neither the Masters of Science nor the Doctor of Philosophy programs in Fisheries and Wildlife require a minor. If a graduate minor is declared then the minor should be in an academic area that clearly supports the major. A graduate minor may be:

  1. an academic area available only as a minor,
  2. a different major,
  3. the same major with a different area of concentration, or
  4. an integrated minor.

An integrated minor consists of a series of cognate courses from two or more areas. These courses must be outside the major area of concentration, with most of the courses being outside the major department. The graduate faculty member representing the integrated minor must be from outside the major department. Graduate minors are listed on the student's transcript.

Grade Requirements

Satisfactory Progress

A grade-point average of 3.00: 1) for all courses taken as a degree-seeking graduate student, and 2) for courses included in the graduate degree or graduate certificate program of study. Grades below C (2.00) cannot be used on a graduate program of study. A grade-point average of 3.00 is required before the final oral or written exam may be undertaken. Enforced graduate-level prerequisite courses must be completed with a minimum grade of C. Programs may have more stringent grade requirements than those prescribed by the Graduate School.

Incomplete Grades

An “I” (incomplete) grade is granted only at the discretion of the instructor. The incomplete that is filed by the instructor at the end of the term must include an alternate/default grade to which the incomplete grade defaults at the end of the specified time period. The time allocated to complete the required tasks for the course may be extended by petition to the University Academic Requirements Committee. You can obtain the form from the Registrar’s Office. It is the student’s responsibility to see that “I” grades are removed within the allotted time.

Residence Requirements

For a doctoral degree, the residence requirement consists of two parts:

  • A minimum of 36 graduate Oregon State University credits must be completed
  • The student must spend at least three terms of full-time graduate academic work (at least 9 credits per term) on campus or at an off-campus site approved by the Graduate School. The latter requirement of three terms of full-time enrollment does not have to take place in consecutive terms. Thesis hours are counted toward residency.

For a master's degree, the residence requirement is completion of 23 graduate credits.

Adequate fulfillment of the residence requirement shall be determined by the Graduate School. Note - these rules relate to the design of a student's academic program and are not the same as the residency requirements imposed by the OSU Office of Admissions.