3.4 Time Limit

A. Master's Degrees
B. Doctoral Degrees
C. Exceptions to Time Limits

A. Master's Degrees
Students must complete all requirements for the master's degree within six (6) calendar years, beginning with the date the student commences courses carrying graduate credit applicable to the degree program either at NC State or another institution, unless a more restrictive time limit has been established by the academic college/school or program. The time limit remains at six (6) years even if a student was on approved leave of absence during the six-year period. The student’s degree clock for time to completion starts with the first course approved for inclusion in the plan of work or the date of admission to the program, whichever comes first.

B. Doctoral Degrees
All doctoral students must attain candidacy for the degree within six (6) calendar years from the date of admission and complete all degree requirements within ten (10) calendar years. The time limit remains at ten (10) years even if a student was on approved leave of absence during the 10-year period. The student’s degree clock for time-to-completion starts with the first course approved for inclusion in the plan of work or the date of admission to the program, whichever comes first. Academic colleges/schools or programs may have more restrictive requirements than the above stated University policy.

C. Exceptions to Time Limits
The Graduate School may grant exception to the above time limits for a period of up to two (2) years. The Dean will consider and evaluate the specific nature of the extenuating circumstances and the compelling reasons that prompted the advisory committee and program to make the request. Requests may be submitted informally and only need to explain the extenuating circumstances and provide a reasonable timeline for completing the work within the limits of the extension.

Requests for extensions of more than two (2) years, or requests to further extend extensions granted by the Graduate School, may be presented to the Administrative Board of the Graduate School (ABGS). The Graduate School will decide whether the request should be presented before the ABGS on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances of each case. Factors and circumstances that the Graduate School will consider in making this decision include, but are not limited to, the currency of the coursework and/or research effort falling outside the allowed time limit window.

Requests for extensions of more than two years should be submitted in writing to the Graduate School when the completion date is clearly in sight, e.g., when a defensible thesis/dissertation is in hand or the last course(s) in a coursework only degree has/have been undertaken. The request should include the following:

  1. A proposed Plan of Work;
  2. A timeline for completing the degree;
  3. A statement documenting the extenuating circumstances that justify the request for a time extension;
  4. A statement explaining the impact that the proposed extension would have on the validity of the student's course work and program, including the currency of the courses, not just in material but in pedagogy and interpretation, and the research (if appropriate); and
  5. Endorsement of the request from the student's advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Programs (DGP).

The request will be formally considered by the ABGS who will recommend approval or denial. If the request is approved, the student is bound to the terms of completion outlined in the request. Failure to follow the approved plan will result in termination from the degree program. Except under extraordinary circumstances, the ABGS will not consider extending a request they have previously granted.