2023-24 Catalog

Degree Information

The following degrees are offered by the university: the master of arts, the master of business administration, the master of business administration and educational leadership, the master of business administration and engineering, the master of education, the master of engineering, the master of science, the doctor of philosophy, the doctor of education, and the doctor of arts.

Students pursuing multiple graduate level degrees must meet minimum unique degree credit-hour requirement for courses taken at Lehigh. A single master’s degree requires a minimum of 30 credits (see transfer credit policy for any exceptions); a single doctoral degree requires a minimum of 72 credits, or 48 for a student with a prior master’s degree.  No credit used for a master’s degree may be counted towards reducing the minimum requirement of 48 Lehigh credit hours for a doctoral degree.

Candidates for the master’s degree have six years in which to complete their programs. Students should confer with their advisers to be certain that specific department and program course requirements are met. The following requirements must be satisfied by master’s candidates in all departments.

Program for the Master’s Degree

A student’s program must include: not less than 30 credit hours of graduate work; not less than 18 credits of 400-level coursework (research or thesis registration counts as part of the 400-level coursework requirement); and not less than 18 credits of coursework in the major, of which 15 credits must be at the 400 level. Coursework for the master’s degree must be taken under at least two instructors and must be approved by Lehigh University. With the approval of the department chair, between 9 and 15 credits of graduate coursework taken elsewhere may be transferred to a Lehigh master’s program. The number of credits that may be transferred depends on the number of credits in the master’s program: Up to 9 credits for programs of 36 credits or less; up to 12 credits for programs of 37 to 48 credits; and up to 15 credits for programs of 49 to 60 credits.  Programs, departments and colleges may have more restrictive transfer rules, however, and students should consult their program offices to learn of any such restrictions.

Course transfers require submission of completed course-transfer petitions, with course descriptions and transcripts, as well as departmental recommendation. Final course marks of B or better are required, such courses may not have been applied toward any prior degree, the courses must have been completed at an institution accredited by one of the six regional accrediting associations, and those courses must have been completed within four years of the first enrollment in the Lehigh master’s program.

Students pursuing a second Lehigh master’s degree can apply a limited number of credits to both the first and second masters degrees. Individual program requirements limit the level to which this can be done, but in all cases the credits counted toward any single masters degree cannot include more than 50% of credits that are also utilized to satisfy a second masters degree.

A student must complete the form, “Program for Master’s Degree,” setting forth the courses proposed to satisfy the degree requirements. This form should be approved by the department and then submitted to Registration & Academic Services as soon as possible after 15 credit hours toward the degree have been completed. Approval of the program by Registration & Academic Services signifies that the student has formally been admitted to candidacy for the master’s degree.

Thesis and Comprehensive Exam

Candidates in some programs may be required to submit a thesis or a report based on a research course of at least three credit hours, or to pass a comprehensive examination given by the major department. The department will specify which of these requirements apply and may require both. If required, the thesis or report shall not count for more than six credit hours, and thesis registration is limited to a maximum of six credit hours. If the thesis or research project involves human subjects, the student must complete the university human subjects review packet and receive written approval from the Institutional Review Board. All approved thesis/dissertations copies must be submitted by the appropriate deadlines in electronic form by following the procedures and guidelines found on the LTS Web site URL: http://libraryguides.lehigh.edu/etd.  Please contact your college dean’s office for further clarification.

A non-thesis option exists for certain programs in the Colleges. Students should check with their departments regarding that option.

Program for the Doctoral degree

A candidate for the doctor of philosophy degree ordinarily is expected to devote at least three academic years to graduate work. In no case is the degree awarded to someone who has completed fewer than two full academic years of graduate work. All post-baccalaureate work toward the doctorate must be completed within ten years. A student beginning doctoral coursework after an elapsed period of at least one semester after the master’s degree has been conferred is granted seven years in which to complete the doctoral program.

Doctoral students whose graduate study is carried out entirely at Lehigh University must register for a minimum of 72 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree.  Students who have earned a master’s degree at another university must register for a minimum of 48 credits. These requirements include registration for research or dissertation credits. Students participating in approved dual-degree doctoral programs involving external institutions may transfer up to 25% of their total required doctoral program research credits to Lehigh for work that was performed at the external partner institution. Approval of such programs is required by the dean of the relevant Lehigh college.

Full-time students working toward the doctorate normally register for a minimum of nine credits each semester. If the minimum degree registration requirement of 72 or 48 credits is attained prior to formal admission to doctoral candidacy, continued registration of at least three credits per semester is necessary. Such registration does not automatically grant full-time student status, however. Full-time student status must be confirmed on the graduate full-time certification form.

Students seeking to receive both a master’s degree and a doctoral degree must complete a minimum of 72 graduate credits at Lehigh and must meet all requirements of both degrees.

After admission to doctoral candidacy, a student must maintain candidacy by registering at least two times each calendar year (in each academic semester or in one academic semester and one summer session). After completion of the minimum registration requirement, plus any additional requirements of the student’s department or program, students are permitted to register for ‘Maintenance of Candidacy’ and will be charged a single credit hour of graduate tuition at the appropriate rate for the degree program in which they are enrolled. Full-time status must be certified on the full-time certification form each semester.

Concentrated Learning Requirement

Each doctoral degree candidate must satisfy Lehigh’s concentrated learning requirement. This requirement is intended to ensure that doctoral students spend a period of concentrated study and intellectual association with other scholars. Two semesters of full-time Lehigh graduate study, or 18 credit hours of Lehigh graduate study, either on or off campus, within a fifteen-month period must be completed.

Individual departments may impose additional stipulations. Candidates should check with their advisers to be certain that they have satisfied their concentrated learning requirements.

Language Requirements

Language requirements for the Ph.D. are the option of, and in the jurisdiction of, the candidate’s department. Since proficiency in a language is not a university requirement, each department decides which languages, if any, constitute part of the doctoral program.


Many departments require students who wish to enroll in doctoral programs to pass qualifying examinations. Since these examinations vary among departments, students should ask their advisers or department chairpersons for more detailed information. If a qualifying examination is not used, students should find out how and when eligibility to pursue doctoral studies is determined.

Admission to Candidacy

With the help of an academic adviser, the student names the faculty members of the doctoral committee, a special committee formed to guide the student through the doctoral program. The committee is responsible for assisting the student in formulating a course of study, satisfying specific departmental requirements, submitting a suitable dissertation proposal and for overseeing progress in research, and evaluating the completed dissertation. At least four faculty are appointed to the committee; one must be a member of an outside department. Committee membership must be approved by the university’s Graduate and Research Committee or its designee.

A doctoral student should apply for candidacy no later than two years after completion of the master’s degree or its equivalent and after passing qualifying examinations, if they are required by the major department. The prospective doctoral candidate must submit to the doctoral committee a written program proposal that includes a discussion of proposed dissertation research. Upon receiving committee approval of the proposal, the candidate submits the proposal, signed by the committee members, to the appropriate dean for action by the Graduate and Research Committee or its designee. The dean will advise the student of the committee’s decision.

If the dissertation research involves human subjects, all research procedures and instruments must be approved by Lehigh University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to the involvement of the subjects.

General Examinations

Examinations composed and administered by the members of the student’s doctoral committee are designed to test the candidate’s proficiency in a particular field of study. These examinations, which may be either written or oral, should be passed at least seven months before the degree is to be conferred. If a student fails the general examination, a second examination may be scheduled not earlier than five months after the first. If the results of the second examination are unsatisfactory, no additional examination is scheduled.

Dissertation and Defense

The doctoral candidate is required to write a dissertation prepared under the direction of a Lehigh University professor. The dissertation must address a topic related to the candidate’s specialty in the major subject, show the results of original research, provide evidence of high scholarship, and make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field.

Upon approval of the advising professor and, if required by the department, secondary readers, the final draft of the dissertation is submitted to the appropriate dean (or designee) for inspection by the date posted in the academic calendar. Upon its return, the student should distribute copies of the draft to the members of the doctoral committee for review and for suggestions for revision. The candidate then schedules a dissertation defense before the doctoral committee, additional faculty members the department may add to the examining committee, and the general public. After the dissertation has been defended and revised accordingly, the student must submit the finished dissertation to the appropriate dean for review by the university’s Graduate and Research Committee (or its designee) no later than the date specified in the academic calendar for completion of all degree requirements. All approved dissertations must be submitted by the appropriate deadlines in electronic form by following the procedures and guidelines found on the LTS Web site URL: http://libraryguides.lehigh.edu/etd. Please contact your college dean’s office for further clarification. Guidelines stipulating the standard form of the dissertation are available in the dean’s office.

© 2023 All Rights Reserved