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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Bryn Mawr College
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899 USA Phone 610-526-5074
Fax 610-526-5076

Summary of Degree Requirements

For more details, see the Faculty Rules governing the MA and Ph.D. degrees


Units of Work
  • At least six units of work
  • At least two units must be graduate courses or seminars
  • A maximum of two units may be units of supervised work (USWs)
  • up to two units may be 300-level undergraduate courses with supplemental work for graduate level credit. Approval of the instructor and the program Graduate Advisor is required

Special Skills - Departments may require language examinations and/or other skill proficiencies

Application to MA Candidacy - Typically students apply for MA candidacy at the same time that they register for the fourth semester, in order to obtain the MA degree at the end of their fourth semester. This is done in consultation with the program Graduate Advisor

Paper or MA Thesis - Must be read and approved by at least two faculty members of the student's program, or by one faculty member of the student's program and by one faculty member of an allied program or department

Final Examination - Must be taken after all course work, the thesis, and any skill requirements have been completed

  • Tests the ability to place the special field of the thesis in a more general background and may be written (4-6 hours) or oral (at least one hour), or both
  • Typically scheduled the first week of May for a May degree or the first week of December for the December degree

Time to Degree - Typically the MA is obtained within 24 months of the student's enrollment in the GSAS. Faculty Rules specify that the maximum amount of time allowed to obtain the MA degree is 60 months.


Units of Work
  • At least twelve units of work (18 in Clinical Developmental Psychology).  The required twelve includes six from the MA degree
  • A maximum of four units may be taken at the University of Pennsylvania under the reciprocal program
  • In the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics and History of Art, at least one Graduate Seminar (GSem) must be taken

Special Skills - Varies by department; see the Faculty Rules

Application to Ph.D. Candidacy - is required in order to take the Preliminary Exams

  • The application to Ph.D. candidacy can be made as soon as sufficient coursework (as determined by the program Graduate Advisor or Chair) has been completed
  • Requires a dissertation director
  • The program appoints a Ph.D. Supervising Committee, comprising the dissertation director and three other faculty members
  • The Dean of Graduate Studies appoints the Supervising Committee Chair (a faculty member from outside the student's home program) and is subject to the approval of the Graduate Council

Preliminary Examinations

  • Must be taken before the dissertation is submitted
  • Can be taken as soon as the program skills requirements have been fulfilled
  • Preliminary exam format varies by program. Consult the Faculty Rules for specific details
  • Preliminary Exam Guidelines for Students
  • Preliminary Exam Guidelines for Outside Chairs


  • In Archaeology, Classics, History of Art, and Russian, must be submitted at least 45 days prior to the end of classes of the semester in which the student expects to complete the work for the degree. See GSAS calendar
  • In Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Clinical Developmental Psychology, must be submitted ast least 25 days prior to the end of classes of the semester in which the student expects to complete the work for the degree. See GSAS calendar
  • Dissertation Format and Guidelines
  • Must be accompanied by a letter from the dissertation director, recommending the dissertation to the Ph.D. Supervising Committee
  • Must include an abstract

Final Examination

  • Is an oral examination on the dissertation
  • If more than 60 months have elapsed since the candidate's first Preliminary Examination, the final exam must include written and oral retesting on one of the Preliminary exam fields
  • Guidelines for Outside Chairs

PhD Completion