2017-18 Academic Catalog

Educational Specialist Degree Completion Requirements

  • The Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) is offered by the College of Education and is comprised of a planned program of at least 30 semester hours above the master’s degree under the direction of a major professor.
  • Check Requirements Quick Reference for admission requirements for specific programs.
  • Consult Admissions Information and the Educational Specialist program descriptions in the College of Education section.
  • Go to the Graduate School website to apply online.

Ed.S. Graduate Committee

Committee Composition

  • For an educational specialist degree committee, three members are the minimum required and they may be hold either a Level 1 or Level 2 Graduate Faculty appointment. One of the committee members may be a minor professor, if the student has a minor program.
  • The major professor is chair of the committee, must hold a Level 1 or Level 2 Graduate Faculty status, and must be from the student’s major department/program.  
  • A limited number of non-Graduate Faculty members may serve on a committee. Non-Graduate Faculty members are expected to have a graduate degree or commensurate expertise in the field of study. The decision whether or not a person who does not hold Level 1 or Level 2 status is qualified to serve on a master's degree committee will be determined by the department/college. 
  • Non-Graduate Faculty committee members can serve as a co-thesis director of the research along with a Level 1 or Level 2 member of the Graduate Faculty, for students in a thesis-option program. Non-Graduate Faculty committee members cannot serve as a major professor or committee chair. If a non-Graduate Faculty committee member serves as co-thesis director, it is expected that the individual will have education and research expertise commensurate with Level 1 or Level 2 Graduate Faculty. 
  • The Committee Request form is submitted to the Graduate School.

Committee Changes

When the committee composition changes, the student submits the change(s) to the Graduate School on the Committee Change form. The form requires signatures of the new and departing committee members, the student, and the graduate coordinator.  If, subsequent to the administration of the final or oral/written comprehensive examination, a student’s request to remove a member of the graduate committee is not met with the approval (signature) of that member, then the student must submit to the dean of the Graduate School a written request containing suitable justification for removal of the committee member. The dean will then decide if removal is necessary and accordingly inform the student, the committee member, the major professor, and the graduate coordinator.

Ed.S. Program of Study

A minimum of 30 credit hours is required on the program of study.  A maximum of 6 credit hours of graduate credit may be earned in DIS courses.   A student may be required to take an ESL, LSK, or undergraduate course; however, these courses or an audited course are not permitted on a graduate program of study. Courses taken in previous graduate work that fulfill current degree requirements are not part of the program of study but are listed on the Attachment Sheet to show the student has fulfilled those course requirements. 

A student who has taken a course at the 4000 level is not allowed to enroll in the same course for credit at the 6000 level without explicit permission of the instructor and graduate coordinator of the department offering the course, and the dean of the Graduate School.

Program of Study Changes

If a program of study must be changed, the student must submit a committee-approved Change of Program Form to effect additions and/or deletions.


A minor is a current block of approved coursework derived from a current MSU degree program or concentration other than the major program.  The option of a minor is at the discretion of the major area in which the program is offered and must be approved by the student's major professor and graduate committee.  The minor coursework is designated on the student’s program of study.  

Up to one-third of the required hours for a minor may be transferred to MSU.  Hours transferred toward fulfillment of a minor must be relevant in content to the graduate program when the degree is awarded and must fit within the time-limit requirements for the specific degree.

A minor in an educational specialist program must meet the following requirements.

  • At least 9 hours of graduate coursework in the minor field of study.
  • Approval of the student’s major professor and/or graduate committee.
  • Approval of the graduate coordinator from the minor area. 
  • An MSU Graduate Faculty member from the minor area who serves as minor professor on the student’s graduate committee.
  • Fulfillment of any additional requirements as specified by the major and minor areas.
  • A 3.00 GPA on the minor coursework.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit hours from other domestic universities, international universities, or military educational programs may be used to fulfill requirements for the educational specialist degree at MSU provided they meet the criteria established in the General Requirements of the Graduate School.  At the educational specialist level, transfer credit may constitute up to 9 semester hours of coursework except for programs requiring more than 40 hours, in which case transfer credits may constitute up to 30 percent of the total credit hours.  Thesis hours cannot be transferred.  Up to one-third of the required hours for a minor (9 hours at the educational specialist level) may be transferred to MSU.  Only courses in which grades of B or higher were earned may be accepted for transfer. Transfer credit must fall within the eight-year time limit and must be academically relevant at the time the degree is awarded.  A Transfer Approval form signed by the student's graduate committee must be submitted to the Graduate School with an official transcript, if the transcript was not submitted with the student's admission application.  See the Transfer Credit section and the Transferred and Shared Credit Hours section for additional details.

Directed Individual Study or Thesis

A maximum of 6 Directed Individual Study (DIS) credit hours may be included on a program of study. Numbered at the 7000 level, these credits may be used to meet the 8000-level course requirement. 

Ed.S. Comprehensive Examination

  • An Ed.S. student in the non-thesis option must pass a comprehensive examination to fulfill degree completion requirements during the terminal semester or when within 6 hours of completing the program of study, excluding practica and internships.
  • The student must be enrolled at MSU during the semester in which the exam is administered.  A student taking a comprehensive examination during the summer semester can be enrolled in any summer term to fulfill this policy.
  • The examination must take place by the deadline found in the Graduate Academic Calendar.
  • The student must have a 3.00 GPA on all courses taken after admission to the program (i.e., program and non-program courses).
  • The Declaration of Examination/Defense form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date of examination. 
  • The candidate's examination should demonstrate
  • the candidate's thorough familiarity with the literature in the major field;
  • the relation of the special subject to allied subjects; and
  • the level of general knowledge and training, including use of oral and written English.
  • One negative vote will not constitute failure of a preliminary/comprehensive examination. Two negative votes will constitute failure of a preliminary/comprehensive examination.
  • A student who fails the comprehensive exam can apply to schedule another examination after a period of four months has elapsed from the date of the original exam.  Two failures result in the student’s being dropped as an educational specialist degree candidate.
  • Following the examination, whether pass or fail, the student’s committee must complete the examination results report and submit both the original and a copy to the Office of the Graduate School by the deadline.  Submission of the report by the student is prohibited.

Ed.S. Thesis

Thesis Preparation

All candidates for a thesis-option master's degree must submit a thesis to complete degree program requirements.  The student’s graduate committee must approve the thesis topic, the outline, and the final submission.  Thesis research is subject to review and approval by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB).  

The student must register for at least the minimum number of required thesis/research hours (6).  Upon the final submission of the thesis to Mitchell Memorial Library, the student is awarded credit for the six hours of thesis/research, regardless of the actual number of hours earned.   

The manual entitled Standards for Preparing Theses and Dissertations (6th edition, 2012) describes the regulations governing dissertation preparation and must be followed.  The student should access the Standards and review Office of Thesis and Dissertation Format Review information at http://library.msstate.edu/thesis/index.asp.

Thesis Defense

Both a public presentation of the thesis research and a thesis defense are required. While the presentation is open to the general public, the defense is open to any member of the Graduate Faculty including the Dean and Associate Dean of the Graduate School. The student must be enrolled at MSU during the semester of the thesis defense.  A student defending during the summer semester can enroll in any summer term to fulfill this policy. The following requirements must be met.

  • The defense must occur by the deadline posted on the Graduate Academic Calendar.
  • To allow time for careful and thoughtful evaluation and discussion, the examination for the oral thesis defense should be scheduled no sooner than seven days after the final manuscript has been distributed to all committee members and graduate coordinator.  typically, committee members and graduate coordinator are provided a minimum of two weeks to review the final manuscript prior to the defense.
  • The time and location of the presentation and defense must be announced to all faculty, staff, and students in the academic department at least two weeks prior.
  • The Declaration of Examination/Defense form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date.
  • The student, graduate coordinator, or a committee member may request that the Graduate School appoint an outside observer to attend the dissertation defense.
  • The student’s graduate committee will evaluate content of the completed thesis. One negative vote will not constitute failure for a student on a thesis defense.  Two negative votes will constitute failure for a student on a thesis defense.
  • A grade of S for satisfactory or U for unsatisfactory is given for thesis credit.  A student cannot graduate with a U grade in the final semester.
  • A student who fails to defend his/her thesis successfully can apply to schedule another defense after a period of four months has elapsed from the date of the original.  Two failures to defend the thesis will result in the student's removal from candidacy
  • Following the defense, the student’s committee must complete the examination results report, whether pass or fail, and submit both the original and a copy to the Graduate School by the deadline.  Submission of the report by the student is prohibited.

Thesis Submission

  • The student must meet the Library's initial and final submission requirements and deadlines posted in the Graduate Academic Calendar.
  • The student must be enrolled for at least one graduate credit at MSU during the semester(s) of both submissions to the Library.
  • The student submits the thesis electronically.  Submission must be in Portable Document Format (PDF) and uploaded to the Library’s electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) database.
  • The committee signature page complete with required signatures must be submitted to the Library before the thesis will be reviewed.  Signatures represent that the signer is satisfied with the contents of the document and that no further changes will be made to the content.  Any subsequent content changes will require a newly signed signature page to allow for each member to re-evaluate the document including the new changes.  For security reasons, signatures should not be scanned for the PDF document; this page will remain absent of signatures for the electronic version.  The Library will retain a copy of the signature page for archival purposes.
  • The University has an agreement with ProQuest Information and Learning Company (ProQuest) for the archiving of all theses.  Under this agreement, if desired, the document will be copyrighted with the copyright in the name of the author.  The hard-bound copies will be published in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT electronic database and the full document made available to subscribing institutions.  The author is also free to use any other method available to create physical copies of their approved work.  There is no longer a fee for publishing theses.  The fee for copyrighting is $55.00; one may also ask ProQuest to publish the document with open access for $95.00.  As an alternative to copyrighting through ProQuest, copyright can be achieved by submitting to http://www.copyright.gov for a $35 fee.

Late Thesis Submission (after Initial and Final Submission Deadlines published in the Graduate Calendar)

Graduate students who pass the thesis defense by the end of a semester and meet all other graduation requirements except the deadlines for thesis submission to the Library may adhere to the following procedure.

  • Defend their thesis no later than the end of the semester. End of semester is defined as the date/time grades are due to the Registrar's Office. This date is posted each semester on the Graduate Calendar.and the University Calendar.
  • Enroll in a zero-credit hour course (GRD 9010 01) the following semester. The zero-credit hour course shall have an associated fee of $100. Students are allowed to enroll in the zero-credit hour course only one time. 
  • Students enrolled in the zero-credit hour course must meet all of that semester's Library submission and graduation application deadlines.
GRD 9010Graduate Degree Completion0

Ed.S. Time Limit

Eight years is the time limit for completion of educational specialist degree requirements.  An Extension of Time form must be used to request a one-year extension if needed under well-justified, extenuating circumstances.  The request must be approved by the major professor and Dean of the College and submitted for approval by the Dean of the Graduate School.   In the rare circumstance that a second request is made, additional approvals are required, including approval of the Dean of the Graduate School and the Provost.  This request must be made using the Request for Additional Extension of Time form.

Residency Requirement

The residency requirement for the educational specialist degree is a minimum of 30 weeks.  No student is permitted to complete the educational specialist degree in two summer sessions or equivalent.  The residency credit is computed as follows:

  • During a regular semester, a student taking 9 hours or more earns half of the required residency credit or 15 weeks.
  • During each term of the regular summer school, a student taking 4 or more hours earns 6 weeks residency.
  • A part-time student earns residency in weeks, equivalent to the semester hours scheduled.
  • Night classes, Saturday classes, and 3-week short-term courses carry residence credit equivalent to the number of semester hours earned.