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Earning Your Graduate Degree

Preparing for Graduation

As you prepare for graduation, please follow the steps below to ensure that you will receive your MA degree.

Review your student record to make sure that you have completed your degree requirements

As you prepare to graduate, double check your student record to verify that you have completed the sequence of required core courses, have earned the 40 units required for the MA degree, and have grades reported for all of your courses. You will not be able to graduate with outstanding incompletes on your student record. (Note that Master's Thesis and Defense, Master's Thesis II, and Thesis Advisement will appear as incomplete grades until you successfully defend your thesis. Gallatin will change these grades at that time.)

If you are unable to meet the requirements for a particular term, you will need to postpone graduation until the following term.

Register for the term when you plan to graduate

You must be registered during the term in which you plan to graduate. If you are planning to graduate in September, you should be registered for Master's Thesis and Defense, Master's Thesis II, or Thesis Advisement during the Summer term.  

Verify thesis proposal approval

If you have not already submitted your adviser-approved MA thesis proposal to Gallatin, you should do so as soon as possible by submitting the Thesis Proposal Submission form.  Students must have an approved thesis proposal in order to proceed with submitting the thesis and scheduling the defense.

Submit and defend the thesis

Review the Thesis Submission and Defense Process information on the Gallatin website for information about submitting the thesis, selecting the committee, scheduling the defense, and submitting the final thesis. This page includes links to all of the forms you will need. Consult the thesis defense deadline calendar to determine the defense deadline for the term when you plan to graduate.

Apply for graduation

When you have determined the semester in which you plan to graduate, apply for graduation on Albert. Please see the instructions for how to apply for graduation on the NYU Registrar's website. It is recommended that you apply for graduation no later than the beginning of the semester in which you plan to complete all program requirements. Consult the calendar of Graduation Deadlines on the Registrar’s website well in advance of your anticipated graduation. If you have questions or have missed the deadline, you may write to

Please note the difference between graduation and commencement. When you apply for graduation, you are letting the Registrar know that you plan to complete your degree in a particular term. In this context, graduation refers to receiving your degree, not to attending the commencement ceremony. For information about graduation ceremonies, please refer to the information below about NYU Commencement and the Gallatin Graduation ceremonies.

Graduation ceremonies

September graduation candidates

September degree candidates may petition to participate in the NYU Commencement and Gallatin Graduation ceremonies in May. Petitions will be granted if the following criteria are met:

  • Student has completed and submitted the petition to march.
  • Student has submitted a letter from their adviser confirming that the student will be prepared to defend the thesis before the September deadline (check here for specific date). This letter should be submitted/emailed to Administrative Director of the MA Program, no later than April 15.
  • Student has updated their expected date of graduation on Albert to September. (If student has not already done so in the Spring semester, student must also "apply for graduation").
  • Student has registered for Thesis Advisement during the Summer term.

Once a student has submitted the petition form, applied for graduation, registered for Thesis Advisement, and had their adviser confirm their plans with the MA Program, the student can make an appointment with the Administrative Director of the MA Program and pick up a Dean’s Exception Letter. Students must have a Dean's Exception Letter in hand in order to pick up graduation tickets and attire.

Final Transcript and Diploma

Every Gallatin student completing the graduate degree program will earn a Master of Arts in Individualized Study. Diplomas are mailed to a student's permanent address in Albert about eight weeks after the degree has been awarded.  More information about your diploma is available online here, including how to receive it by mail and how to collect it in person.

To request an official transcript from the NYU Registrar, please read the instructions found here.