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Taking Graduate Courses Prior to Admission

You’ve decided you want to earn your master’s or doctoral degree from Colorado State University, maybe you have submitted your application and supporting documents, or maybe you want to “try it before you buy it” to see if your life really is ready to take on this commitment, but you know you are ready to learn – now what?

You have options that can move you toward your goal while you are in a “holding pattern” of either waiting for acceptance to the program, waiting for the semester for which you are accepted to begin, or just looking at courses to take that could possibly transfer into a program later. Be careful; there are rules about when credits are earned, how many are earned, and advisor approval.

While it is the best idea to contact your department and/or the Graduate School, here are a few thoughts on the subject.

Pick Your Master’s Plan

Are you planning to earn a Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C master’s degree?

  • Plan A master’s degrees require the preparation of a thesis. The thesis is typically a written formal document that addresses, in an original fashion, an important concern of the discipline. A thesis involves significant independent work.
  • Plan B master’s degrees do not require a thesis; instead, more credits are earned in other types of courses and/or a scholarly paper is required. Plan B master’s degrees may also require a project, journal, or professional paper.
  • Plan C master’s degrees, in general, have additional course requirements but no formal paper or publication.

For more complete information, visit the Graduate School website. Here are a few basics from the site:

  • At least 24 credits must be earned at Colorado State University. This includes courses completed both prior and after admission to the Graduate School.
  • Of the courses earned at Colorado State University, at least 21 credits must be earned after admission to the Graduate School.

Review the Rules for Ph.D.s

If a Ph.D. is in your future rather than a master’s, the rules change a bit – and they depend on what previous credits you are wishing to include. Again, according to the Graduate School website, when submitting previously earned master’s degree courses/credits in partial fulfillment of requirements:

  • A master’s degree from an accredited college or university may be accepted for a maximum of 30 credits.
  • Up to 10 credits earned after the date on which the master’s degree was awarded may be accepted in transfer if approved by the student’s advisory committee, the department, and the Graduate School. Please review the Transfer of Graduate Credit From Other Institutions section for the requirements regarding transfer coursework.
  • At least 32 credits must be earned at Colorado State University after admission to the Graduate School.

When not submitting previously earned master’s degree courses in partial fulfillment of requirements:

  • Up to 10 credits earned at an accredited college or university may be accepted for transfer if approved by the student’s advisory committee, the department, and the Graduate School. Please review the Transfer of Graduate Credit From Other Institutions section for the requirements regarding transfer coursework.
  • At least 62 credits must be earned at Colorado State University after admission to the Graduate School.

For more complete information, visit the Ph.D. Degree section of the Graduate School website.

Options Prior to Enrollment

Okay, that has all been interesting, but how do you go about earning these credits if you aren’t yet admitted? Again, you have options. If you happen to be in the Fort Collins area, you can come to campus and earn the credits as a GUEST (Granting University Enrollment for a Specific Term) student. To learn more about this option, go to the GUEST section of our website. If you are not near campus or you prefer to take online or distance courses, go to the CSU Online website and see what courses will work for your degree that are available for registration, and enroll. And if it happens to be summer, go to the Summer Session section of the Colorado State University website because summer is open enrollment, which means anyone is welcome to enroll who has the prerequisites. The final way to gain entrance into a course is to contact the instructor and ask for an override – but don’t forget, you still need to register to earn the credits.

You now know how many credits you can earn and how to register; all you need is to make the commitment to learn.

 

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