Final Steps

Final Steps

The Master's Exam and Beyond

What is the master's examination?  How do I submit my finished, approved project?  When do I attend graduation?

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Submission Copy (10 days before the examination)

At least ten days before your master's examination, you must submit a copy of the project as an MS Word document to for distribution to all three members of your master's examination committee.  (This committee consists of your supervisor, another graduate faculty member and either the GLS director or assistant director as chair.)  At this stage, the project should include a brief 200-250 word abstract that summarizes your project (its central concerns, its methods, its results and conclusions). This abstract plays no part in the argument of your project (other than summarizing it), but functions as a stand-alone advertisement for your project. This penultimate draft should conform to the GLS master’s project format, meet all appropriate academic standards, be easily readable and need nothing more than minor corrections.  Last-minute efforts by any students who have failed to work steadily with their supervisors will not be considered.  

Supervisor’s Endorsement (10 days before the examination)

At the same time you submit your Submission Copy (ten days before the exam), your supervisor must submit by email or in writing a statement to the GLS office for distribution to the other two members of the examination committee that: 

  • Confirms that your project is ready for the examination; and 
  • Briefly explains why this project meets the requirements of the degree.  

If your supervisor feels you have not yet successfully completed your project by the end of the semester, you will have to wait until the next semester to graduate.

Examination Committee’s Determination (2-3 days before the examination)  

Two to three days before the examination, the examining committee will confer by email to determine whether it is appropriate to proceed with the examination, based upon the submitted version of the project.  If the committee finds that the project does not yet meet standards, your examination will be rescheduled for the following semester.  This process ensures that your project is passable before going forward with your master's examination.  

The Master's Examination 

You meet with your examination committee (your supervisor, another graduate faculty member and either the GLS director or assistant director as chair) to discuss what you have learned while engaged in the master’s project, and in the GLS program in general.  This is not a defense, but your opportunity to share with others your intellectual journey and the work that it produced.   Upon receiving a passing grade by this committee (and assuming all other degree requirements have been fulfilled), you are awarded the master’s degree, and graduate that semester.  The examination committee may recommend corrections to the final version.  At the examination, your committee members will sign the card that confirms you have completed degree requirements for graduation.

​​Final, Corrected Project (two weeks after the examination)

Within ten days of the master’s examination, you must submit the final version of the project.   Once you have completed all corrections, convert your entire project – including the title page, abstract, table of contents, main text, and bibliography – into one pdf document in the master's project format.  

Submit your revised master’s project to  GLS master’s projects are archived electronically in the GLS office.  Projects that meet certain program standards can also be published on a site dedicated to the program on DukeSpace through the Perkins Library.  Once your project is approved by GLS for DukeSpace, you can follow these guidelines for publishing there.  

Graduation 2016.jpg


Once you have turned in your final, corrected project -- and completed all courses, coursework and other degree requirements -- you graduate with a Master in Arts degree from Duke University!  Those who finish in the summer semester graduate in September; those who finish in the fall semester graduate in December; those who finish in the spring semester graduate in May.  While graduation ceremonies are held in May, all those who graduate in the previous academic year (including September and December graduates) are welcome to participate in the school-wide ceremony (typically held on a Sunday) -- and are urged to attend the very pleasant and meaningful Graduate Liberal Studies hooding ceremony (typically held on a Saturday).