Graduate Degree - Plans A, B and C

SJSU offers three plans for candidates for master's degrees.

Plan A - Thesis Plan

This plan requires approval by the candidate's advisor and other members of the thesis committee of a thesis topic and its satisfactory production in written form. Plan A requires registration in departmental 299, Master's Thesis, for at least one unit. Departmental 298 units or other department-specific thesis research or methodology courses are often also taken during the data-gathering stages of the thesis research. While the total number of 298 and 299 units, as well as units in any other project or thesis-research or preparatory course, is restricted for degree credit (and therefore inclusion on the candidacy form) by departmental rules and university policy, the total number of these units taken is not restricted.

Plan B - Degree-Without-Thesis Plan

Plan B is characterized by substitution of the thesis and departmental 299 units with another set of courses and either a project or comprehensive exam. The plan is expected to provide substantial practical experiences by means of the tools and techniques of advanced study in the field. The purpose of Plan B is most often to provide breadth, rather than specialization, and so is tailored by the selection of courses and the nature of the final, comprehensive exam. The exam may be oral, written, or both and constitutes the culminating experience in the plan. Many departments historically have assigned students to Plan B for projects, whether they are also accompanied by a comprehensive exam or not. The projects are usually conducted as part of a departmental 298 or otherwise numbered 200-level project course for a maximum of six units, as stipulated by the department, and the write-up for the project is required as part of the culminating experience. Departmental 299 units are not permitted for graduate credit under this plan.

Plan C - Special Plans Including Creative Projects

This plan is reserved for exceptional cases for which needs will be served best through a special arrangement of courses and/or special creative assignments. The assignments might include original paintings, dramatic presentations, motion picture productions, works of sculpture, electronic media or videotapes. In these cases, the candidate is required to submit a written report on the creative project in the form of a supplementary guide or handbook that puts the work into historical, cultural and/or professional context. This written report is to be cataloged in the university's institutional repository in the University Library in the same manner as regular theses discussed under Plan A. Departmental advisors will provide further information on special requirements of the plan. Plan C requires registration in a minimum of one unit of departmental 299. Note that creative projects can also be conducted under the Plan B umbrella without the submission of a thesis or taking departmental 299 units.

Thesis/Creative Project Unit Conditions

Registration for departmental 299 thesis courses occurs only after advancement to candidacy for the master's degree. By that point, the thesis committee should be fully established in accordance with the SJSU University policy. Before collection of data from human subjects, prior approval must be granted by the Institutional Review Board; see the section on Human Subjects Data Collection in this catalog. Similarly, prior approval for research on or employing animals must be granted by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; see the section on Animal Research Guidelines in this catalog.

A student is allowed a maximum of nine semester units of thesis research and writing courses (departmental 299 and usually 298 but other thesis courses apply) for graduate credit in Plan A and Plan C, although more of these units can be attempted. There is no minimum requirement except that all thesis students must have at least one 299 unit. The student may register for any or all of the required thesis units in one semester, but the sequence should follow departmental guidelines and regulations. All 299 units will receive a grade of "RP" until a final grade ("CR" or "NC") is awarded when the thesis is approved by Graduate Studies. "RP" units cannot be changed to "CR" until that time. Extensions of the two-year period for completing thesis work under the "RP" designation should be made before the period expires by means of the form available at Upon satisfactory completion of the thesis, a "CR" is submitted by the thesis chair via the Change-of-Grade form to the Registrar to clear the "RP." A separate form must be submitted for each occurrence of "RP" (each semester the grade is displayed) on the record.