Graduate Study Timeline

Follow the timeline below to advance through your graduate program in the proper sequence. Using this timeline will help ensure that you meet the necessary requirements for graduation. The process begins after you are admitted to the Graduate College, and it culminates with your degree conferral.

Note: When submitting required forms, please bring & mail your signed original to the Graduate College. We do not require any additional copies. If you would like a copy for your records, please make one for yourself before mailing or bringing your original to the Graduate College.

  1. Meet your Advisor

    Your department will assign an advisor when you're admitted to the Graduate College. Please contact your department to determine your advisor, and make an appointment to meet her or him to discuss your program plans and requirements.


  2. Determine if you need a Graduate Advisory Committee.
  3. Not all graduate students require an advisory committee, but most do. To determine whether you need a graduate advisory committee, please check with your graduate coordinator or advisor, and review your program requirements in the Graduate Catalog. If you do require an advisory committee, you must select this committee before completing 12-16 credit hours, and prior to establishing and submitting your proposed degree program.   If you do not require an advisory committee, please continue to step #4.

    If you need a Graduate Committee Advisory committee, please be aware that your committee must consist of a chair from your department, at least two other faculty from your department, and one graduate college representative from a different department.  Note that committee chairs and graduate college representatives on advisory committees must have full graduate faculty status. Graduate advisory committee members may hold either full or associate graduate faculty status. If after establishing a graduate advisory committee there is need to change the composition of the committee, the student should complete and submit the Change in Advisory Committee form to the Graduate College immediately.

    Form: Appointment of Advisory Committee (PDF)

    Form: Change of Advisory Committee (PDF)

  4. Submit Proposed Degree Program, Parts 1 & 2, to the Graduate College at the same time
  5. Master’s, specialist, and certificate students
    Submit both Part 1 and Part 2 of your proposed degree program together before applying for graduation, and no later than the first week of the semester in which you plan to graduate.

    Form: Part 1 – Proposed Master’s & Specialist Degree Program (PDF)
    Form: Part 1 – Proposed Graduate Certificate Program (PDF)
    Form: Part 2 – Obtain all Part 2 forms from your academic department.

    Doctoral students
    Submit both Part 1 and Part 2 of your proposed degree program together before applying for graduation, and no later than the first week of the semester in which you plan to graduate.

    Form: Part 1 – Proposed Ph. D. Degree Program (PDF)

    Form: Part 1 – Proposed Graduate Certificate Program (PDF)

    Form: Part 2 – Obtain all Part 2 forms from your academic department.


  6. Submit thesis/dissertation prospectus approval to the Graduate College (applies to thesis track and doctoral students only)

    Master’s students
    Submit this form, along with an abstract of your proposal, when you submit your proposed degree program (see #4).

  7. Form: Prospectus Approval Form (PDF)

    Doctoral students
    Submit this form when you submit your proposed degree program, and prior to advancing to candidacy.

    Form: Prospectus Approval Form (PDF)


  8. Advance to candidacy (applies to doctoral students only).
  9. This step typically occurs after you have completed all course work, passed any required qualifying and/or comprehensive exams, completed your prospectus, and have had it, along with your description, approved by the Dean of the Graduate College. This sequence may differ slightly by department, but you must advance to candidacy before enrolling in dissertation credits.

    Graduate Assistants: In order to be eligible for a GA stipend increase, you must Advance to Candidacy and submit all other required paperwork (see steps 1-5 above) to the Graduate College by the following deadlines: August 1st for a Fall stipend increase; December 23rd for a Spring stipend increase; and May 1st for a Summer stipend increase. For additional information, visit the GA Information webpage.

    Form: Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy Application (PDF)


  10. Apply for graduation.
  11. Be sure to be aware of important graduation deadlines. You may apply for graduation up to 2 semesters prior to your intended semester of graduation, but you MUST SUBMIT all forms (except your final defense forms or culminating experience forms) prior to applying to graduate.  To do so, please login to your MyUNLV and apply to graduate.  When you apply, if you are enrolled in more than one program or certificate, please be sure you select the correct one from which you intend to graduate.

  12. Work with your Graduate Advisory Committee to draft your thesis or dissertation, and eventually submit final draft for their review no less than two weeks before your scheduled defense (Master’s Thesis and Doctoral Students ONLY)
  13. Be sure that you have prepared your final document in the appropriate style (follow the Style Manual directed by your advisors) and make sure the formatting is consistent with the UNLV guidelines available here: http://graduatecollege.unlv.edu/current/thesis/. It is the student and the graduate advisory committee’s responsibility to ensure that style and formatting are done appropriately and to specifications.


  14. Defend thesis/dissertation (Master’s Thesis and Doctoral Students ONLY)
  15. It is essential that you are registered for at least 3 graduate credits in the semester in which you defend your document.  Remember that defenses are public and must be advertised (date, time, location) on campus at least a week prior to your defense.  Finally, be sure that you hold your defense no less than three weeks prior to the last day of instruction (each semester we post a “last day to defend your thesis or dissertation” deadline).


  16. Submit final documents to the Graduate College
  17. For MASTERS THESIS or DOCTORAL students:  This includes one copy of your final approved (and properly formatted) thesis or dissertation on 20 lb. watermark bond paper to the graduate college for final formatting approval.  You must successfully complete this step at least two weeks prior to the last day of instruction in the semester in which you anticipate graduating.  For guidelines, click here: http://graduatecollege.unlv.edu/current/thesis/

    For students taking final exams, completing professional papers, or doing other approved culminating experiences:  You must submit the results of your final exam or project defense immediately after you receive them, and no later than two weeks prior to the last day of instruction.

    Form: Culminating Experience Results (PDF)

  18. Submit your final, approved E-version of your thesis or dissertation to ProQuest (Masters Thesis & Doctoral Students ONLY)
  19. This is a mandatory final step in the process of completing your thesis or dissertation.  The submission to ProQuest is done in conjunction with the UNLV Library, but you may not upload your electronic document until you receive an email invitation from the graduate college with your e-signature page to insert in your document.  This only happens after your hard copy is approved for correct formatting.  Directions are available here: http://graduatecollege.unlv.edu/current/thesis/

  20. Graduate!
  21. Your degree will be conferred after you have fulfilled all degree requirements, submitted all your required signed forms, and submitted your final documents (both in hard copy and via ProQuest submission for Masters thesis and Doctoral students. You may not participate in commencement prior to completing all degree requirements. Learn more about completing your academic program and preparing for the commencement ceremony.


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