Pursuing a Degree

Graduate Student Handbook

Master's Degree Requirements

Time and Registration

The Master's degree is granted to properly qualified students who complete satisfactorily at least two full semesters of advanced work.  Candidates for the Master's degree have six years in which to complete their program, beginning with the first course the student wishes to apply toward meeting degree requirements.  Students should confer with their advisers about specific department and program course requirements.  A checklist of procedures and deadlines is provided below:

  1. Formulate a tentative program of course work in consultation with your adviser;
  2. File a Master's Degree Program with the program coordinator.  Submit as soon as 15 semester hours are complete;
  3. Apply for degree in Registrar's Office before date specified in catalog.  Reapplication for degree is required if student misses expected graduation date.  The Registration & Academic Services Office has the Application for Degree forms; 
  4. Obtain clearance form and cap-and-gown information from the Registration & Academic Services Office.  Obtain the appropriate signatures and return to Registration & Academic Services.  The Cap and Gown Form is returned to the Lehigh University Bookstore;
  5. Registration is required in the semester in which the degree is to be conferred.  (Those completing degree requirements during summer sessions need not register for fall provided all requirements are completed by the 10th day of class.) Always verify with the Registration & Academic Services Office that you have successfully completed all requirements.
Program for the Master's Degree

In meeting the requirements for the degree, the student complies with the following regulations:

  1. Complete the form Program for Master's Degree listing the courses proposed to satisfy the degree requirements.  This program must have the approval of the Chairperson of the Department of Education and Human Services.  All courses included which are not offered by the Department of Education and Human Services must also be approved by the Chairperson of the departments concerned.  The form must be submitted to and approved by Registration & Academic Services.  Submission should be as soon as possible after 15 credit hours toward the degree have been completed.  The student should consult with the program coordinator to assure that the form has been properly completed.  Approval of the program by the Registration & Academic Services Office signifies that the student has formally been admitted to candidacy for the degree.
  1. The "minimum" program for the Master's degree includes: not less than 30 semester hours of graduate work; not less than 24 hours of 300- and 400-level course work of which at least 18 hours is from the 400 group; not less than 18 hours in the major field; and not less than 15 hours of 400-level courses in the major field.
  2. The 18 hours required in the major field are ordinarily taken in one department.  Specific exceptions to this rule are mentioned in the departmental statements at the head of course listings.  The remaining 12 hours of a "minimum" program, or any part of them, may also be taken in the major department; or they may be taken in any other field in which courses for graduate credit are offered, as the needs or interests of the student may indicate, subject to the approval of the Chairperson of the major department.  In all cases the work for the Master's degree is taken under at least two instructors.
  3. A graduate student may include in his or her program courses numbered 200 or higher outside the major field and courses numbered 300 or higher in the major field.  A graduate student registered in 200- or 300level courses may be assigned additional work at the discretion of the instructor.
  4. The Master's degree is not granted unless the candidate has earned the grades A or B in at least 18 hours of the work on his or her program and in all 300-level courses in the major field.  No course in which the grade earned is less than C is credited toward the degree.
  5. All work to be credited toward a Master's degree must be in courses approved by Lehigh University.  A student who receives more than four grades below B in courses numbered 200 or higher becomes ineligible to qualify for the Master's degree or to register for any other 400-level courses.
Transfer Credits

The College of Education has adopted a more restrictive policy on transfer of credits than has been approved by the university.  Such policy is permitted by R & P 3.22.2.

With the approval of the department chair offering commensurate courses and the student’s department chair (if different), a maximum of six credits may be transferred from another university to a Lehigh master’s program.  

Students must complete a course transfer petition (available online at https://ed.lehigh.edu/sites/ed.lehigh.edu/files/documents/LU_TransferCreditForm_122717_0.pdf ) and see that it receives the necessary signatures and is submitted to the Registration & Academic Services Office, along with course descriptions and an official transcript.  Students may also be asked for a statement from their former institution to confirm that the course has not been used toward a prior degree.

To be eligible for credit towards a Lehigh Master’s program, all transferred courses must:

  1. Have been taken at the graduate level
  2. Be one in which the student received a final mark of B or better
  3. Not have been used toward any prior degree
  4. Have been completed within four years of first enrollment into a Lehigh graduate program
  5. Be transferred from an institution that is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting associations.

Transfer Credits within the Five-year Teacher-certification program:

Graduate students who were undergraduates admitted to the five-year program are covered under a special policy and may petition to transfer up to 12 credits of completed Lehigh coursework taken while they were undergraduates, provided those courses meet ALL the criteria listed below.

To be eligible for transfer toward a teacher-preparation master’s degree each course must:

  1. Not have been applied toward the Lehigh undergraduate degree.
  2. Have been reserved for application to the graduate degree through completion of the required form.
  3. Be a course in the program of study for that master’s degree.
  4. Be one in which the student received a final course mark of B- or better.

NOTE: Students do NOT need to petition to apply courses toward meeting the requirements of certification, since there is no requirement that such courses be part of a degree program.

Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education Degree Requirements

The degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education are conferred on candidates who have demonstrated general proficiency and high attainment in a special field of knowledge and capacity to carry on independent investigation in that field, as evidenced by the presentation and public defense of an approved dissertation offering original research findings.

When completing the doctorate, students must follow two documents: (1) Lehigh University College of Education Doctoral Program Requirements and Procedures and (2) College of Education, Lehigh University, Guidelines for the Preparation of the Doctoral Dissertation.  Both documents are available at: https://ed.lehigh.edu/insidecoe/doctoral-procedures-guidelines

The first document details program requirements and lists the procedures for completing a doctorate in the College of Education.  In following the steps outlined in the College of Education's procedures, doctoral candidates should be aware of the deadlines for submitting dissertations to the Dean's office (at least six weeks before the degree is conferred) and for completing all degree requirements (at least three weeks before the degree is conferred) for the fall and spring semesters.  These exact dates are published in the calendar found in the university catalog and on the Registrar's website.

The second document specifies the exact way in which the dissertation must be prepared.  Further, you must follow university procedures for the protection of human subjects if your dissertation involves human subjects (see Protection of Human Subjects in Research in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Transfer Credits: Lehigh University does not permit the transfer of coursework into doctoral programs.

Other procedures and requirements 

University Withdrawal

A student withdrawing from the university (dropping all courses during a given term) must submit the Add/Drop Form signed by the adviser and instructor to the Registration & Academic Services Office.  It is possible to Add/Drop online with the approval of adviser and instructor, when applicable.  Adding a course late requires the approval of both the adviser and instructor, and you must petition to do so.  Withdrawal after registration day and during the first eleven weeks of instruction will be noted on the academic transcript by assigning a grade of "W" to all courses.  A withdrawal after the eleventh week of instruction and before the end of classes will have the grade of "WP" or "WF" assigned for each course at the discretion of the instructor.  The date of the withdrawal will be noted on the academic transcript.  (This applies to fall and spring semesters only.)


A previously admitted student who fails to take any coursework for more than one academic year must petition for readmission. Petitions must be approved by the Chairperson of the Department of Education and Human Services and the dean’s office and then forwarded to the Registration & Academic Services Office.

University Catalog

The university catalog can be found online at: http://catalog.lehigh.edu/