Overview from Admission to Graduation!

Completing your graduate degree from beginning to end may seem daunting…never fear, we are here to help you through the process!

Remember that the 7-year clock starts once you begin taking graduate-level courses. Graduate coursework older than 7 years may not count toward a graduate degree; this restriction includes transfer credits.

Registration Start and Status

Students will have one of three classifications: Regular, Certificate/Licensure, and Graduate Special.

  • A Graduate Regular student is pursuing a master’s degree in a specific field of study. A regular graduate student is eligible for financial aid as long as they are attending at least part-time. Contact Financial Aid for details.
  • A Graduate Certificate/Licensure student is pursuing coursework with the planned objective of completing a post-baccalaureate certificate or licensure. Most certificate and licensure programs are eligible for financial aid as long as the student is attending at least part-time. Contact Financial Aid for details.
  • A Graduate Special student is pursuing graduate course work without a planned objective but with the goal of personal and/or professional enrichment. Graduate special students are ineligible for financial aid and will need to cover their own education costs.

Application for Admission to Graduate Studies

The application process is the same for all graduate students: Complete electronic application and payment. Additional instructions, including individual department requirements, will automatically be provided to you. Additional application requirements can also be found on related program pages.

Form 2: Application for Admission to Candidacy

After students have been admitted into a specific graduate program and have completed 13 to 16 graduate credits of coursework for their degree, they must begin the process of completing the Application for Admission to Candidacy form associated with their program.

Form 6:  Graduate Petition

If students need to make changes to their Candidacy Form (such as substitutions for required program courses), they must complete the Graduate Petition Form and submit to their advisor for approval. More than three non-elective courses, or six credits, in substitutions to the approved program will require the submission of a revised Candidacy Form 2.

Competency Requirement

If students have not completed the competency requirement for their program, they should contact their advisor as soon as possible to determine which requirement is necessary to complete their degree.

Written Exam

Once students are near the completion of their coursework, the School of Graduate Studies generally suggests that they consider making preparations at this time to complete their written examination (please do not confuse this exam with the oral examination). However, each department may more accurately determine the correct time frame in which the written exam must be completed.

Form 3: Graduate Research Paper/Thesis/Final Project Proposal Approval

Students must consult with their advisor as to who should serve on their graduate committee. Once committee members have been determined, the student must complete a proposal according to the guidelines of their department or program. After the proposal has been approved by the student’s committee/department, students should complete the appropriate Graduate Research Paper/Thesis Proposal Approval Form for their program, obtain signatures from their committee members, and submit the form to the School of Graduate Studies along with an electronic copy of their proposal.

Form 4:  Application for Graduation

After the Graduate Research Paper/Thesis Proposal or Graduate Project and Presentation Form is approved, students must access the correct Application for Graduation form, determined by their program. Students must submit this form, along with a preliminary curriculum vita, to the School of Graduate Studies.

Preliminary Curriculum Vita (CV)

The preliminary curriculum vita must contain a precise listing of all the courses used to fulfill the master’s degree program. Curriculum vita examples and templates can be found on the MA/MS Track or Applied Master’s Track pages. If you are unsure as to which program you are pursuing, please contact the School of Graduate Studies at grad@bemidjistate.edu.

Form 5: Graduate Research/Thesis Paper/Final Project Defense

Once the student’s Application for Graduation Form and Preliminary Curriculum Vita have been submitted, the student must complete and submit a Graduate Research/Thesis/Final Project Defense Form.

Oral Defense/Presentation

Students seeking a MA or MS degree will participate in an oral defense at the end of their program. Guidelines are available under the MA/MS Track.

Student seeking an Applied Master’s degree will participate in an oral presentation as determined in their final course for their program.



Due to the number of spring graduates each year, spring diplomas are generally mailed mid-summer. Students who complete their degrees during summer session or fall semester may expect their diplomas within a month after their completed degree has been approved by the School of Graduate Studies. Students who need confirmation of their degree before the receipt of their diploma should contact the School of Graduate Studies at grad@bemidjistate.edu to request verification notification.


Commencement events and activities happen in May of each year and will be posted on the Records Office and School of Graduate Studies’ websites. Make sure that you are on the Commencement list (posted online by the Records Office) and that your address information is current in the Records Office so that your degree is not misdirected. Graduate students must use the appropriate cap, gown, and hood from the BSU Bookstore in order to participate in the “hooding” commencement ceremony.