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Washington State University Graduate School

Procedure to Request Extension of Degree Program

1. First Extension

A one-year extension may be requested by the thesis/dissertation chair as an exception to Graduate School policy in the following circumstances:

  • Students who have not completed their master’s degree within the 6-year time limit.
  • Students who have not completed their doctoral degree within 3 years of the semester they pass their preliminary exam or within 10 years from the beginning date of the earliest course applied toward the degree. (Student must meet both deadlines.)

The student must make a formal request in writing to the student’s thesis /dissertation chair. The thesis/dissertation chair must discuss this situation with the student and they should mutually outline a plan for completion within one year. The thesis/dissertation chair must then consult with the thesis/dissertation committee and, if all parties agree, forward a memorandum for review to an Associate Dean of the Graduate School requesting a one-year extension. The thesis/dissertation chair must explain why this exception is requested, and the thesis/dissertation chair should indicate the support of this request by the student’s committee. An Associate Dean of the Graduate School will grant, or reject, the exception to policy and this decision will be communicated to the thesis/dissertation chair and recorded in the student’s file.

NOTE:  Students must be enrolled for a minimum of two research credits during either the fall or the spring semester of a First Extension (enrollment is required in the semester of degree completion).

2. Second Extension

After having been granted a first extension, a second extension for one year may be requested by following the procedure outlined below. The second extension is a serious matter and should be considered a final stage of the process to complete the degree.

The student must submit a request for a second extension to the student’s thesis/dissertation chair. The student must explain, in writing, why the student was unable to complete the thesis/dissertation after a first extension. The student also must develop a detailed timeline for completing the thesis/dissertation if the student is to be granted a second extension.

The thesis/dissertation chair must evaluate and approve the rationale and timeline for the requested second extension. The student must schedule and complete a thesis/dissertation committee meeting where the time-line for completion is discussed.

A faculty meeting must be held where the student’s request for a second extension is discussed by the entire faculty of that graduate program. Once the thesis/dissertation advisor presents the circumstances for this request, the Chair of the degree-granting unit must ballot the faculty for their support of the request. The results of this balloting must be reported to the Graduate School as part of the request for a second extension.

If the faculty vote supports the action, the thesis/dissertation chair must write a memorandum to be reviewed by an Associate Dean of the Graduate School requesting a second extension. This memorandum must explain the rationale for this extension, provide the details of the timeline, verify the date of the thesis/dissertation meeting, and indicate that the thesis/dissertation committee concurs with the decision to request a second extension. This memorandum must be copied to the Chair of the degree granting unit.

The Associate Dean will render a decision to extend a second request. If the extension is granted, a letter will be sent to the student (and copied to the department or program chair, the chair of the thesis/dissertation committee, and the Dean of the Graduate School) explaining that this second extension is essentially a final opportunity to complete the thesis/dissertation by following the timeline developed by the student and thesis/dissertation committee. The letter will indicate that third extensions are very rare.

NOTE:  Students must be enrolled for a minimum of two research credits during both the fall and the spring semesters of a Second Extension or until degree completion.

3. Third Extension

It is possible to obtain a third extension under exceptional circumstances (personal and/or family medical issues, etc.). The third extension is absolutely final. The following process will be used to request a third and final extension.

The student must request a third extension to the student’s thesis/dissertation chair. The student must explain, in writing, why the student was unable to complete the thesis/dissertation after the second extension. The student also must develop a detailed time-line for completing the thesis/dissertation if the student is to be granted a third extension.

The thesis/dissertation chair must evaluate and approve the rationale and time-line for the requested third extension. The student must schedule and complete a thesis/dissertation committee meeting during which the timeline for completion is discussed.

A faculty meeting must be held during which the student’s request for a third extension is discussed by the entire faculty of that graduate program. Once the thesis/dissertation advisor presents the circumstances for this request, the Chair of the degree granting unit must ballot the faculty for their support of the request. The results of this balloting must be reported to the Graduate School as part of the request for a third extension.

If the faculty supports the request, the Chair of the degree granting unit must write a memorandum to the Dean of the Graduate School explaining the rationale for the request, providing a detailed timeline for completion of the thesis/dissertation within one year, and including any extenuating circumstances that need to be considered. This memorandum of request is submitted to the Graduate School for review and approval.

If approved, the Dean of the Graduate School will write a letter to the student and explain that this is a 3rd and final extension. The student will acknowledge receipt of this letter in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School and the Chair, explaining that the student understands that this is the student’s final opportunity to complete the thesis/dissertation degree. NOTE:  Students must be enrolled for a minimum of two research credits during both the fall and the spring semesters of a Third Extension or until degree completion.

4. Denial of Extension

If the student is denied an extension, the student may appeal the decision of the Dean of the Graduate School using the Graduate School’s grievance procedures in Chapter 12, Section E.3.

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